Hailemariam Desalegn (Amharic: ኃይለማሪያም ደሳለኝ?) (born 19 July 1965) is an Ethiopian politician who has been Prime Minister of Ethiopia since 2012. Under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Hailemariam was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2010 to 2012. When Meles died in August 2012, Hailemariam succeeded him as Prime Minister, initially in an acting capacity. He was then elected as the Chair of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling party, on 15 September 2012. He was elected as the Chairperson of the African Union at the 20th AU Summit on 27 January 2013.
Hailemariam was born in 1965 in the Boloso Sore district of the Wolayita Zone in southern Ethiopia. He studied and spent most of his youth in the area.
Hailemariam is from the Wolayta ethnic group of Ethiopia, an Omotic community which forms the principal population group in Ethiopia's Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region. He is also the first Prime Minister of Ethiopia who is a member of the Ethiopian Apostolic denomination.
His name 'Hailemariam' is in Geez, the liturgical language of Ethiopia's Orthodox Church, and means "the power of St Mary". His official name of address is Hailemariam (long form: Hailemariam Desalegn), the second name being his father's name. The name of his father, Desalegn, is Amharic for "I am happy"(although literally it means "I became happy").
In 1988, Hailemariam received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Addis Ababa University. He subsequently worked as a graduate assistant in the Arba Minch Water Technology Institute (now Arba Minch University). After two years of working in this capacity, he won a scholarship to Tampere University of Technology in Finland, where he earned a master's degree in sanitation engineering. Upon his return to Ethiopia, he served in different academic and administrative capacities, including the dean of the Water Technology Institute, for 13 years. In between, he also earned an MA in Organizational Leadership at Azusa Pacific University, California, US.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he became seriously involved in politics as member of the EPRDF (Ethiopia's ruling party) and became the deputy president of the SNNPR. He replaced Abate Kisho who was removed from power on corruption charges, but it is believed that Abate was demoted for supporting the anti-Meles Zenawi faction when the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (the core of the EPRDF) split in 2000. Another widely accepted belief about Abate was that he was less educated and exercised poor leadership while he was in power.
President of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region
He was President of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region (SNNPR) from November 2001 to March 2006 and was promoted as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in October 2010. He has been performing leadership roles as deputy Chairman of EPRDF, Chairman of SEPDM, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. His service term has been as follows: Public Offices: Vice President of the SNNPR (2000–2002); President of the SNNPR (2002–2005); Member of the House of People’s Representatives (2005–present); Social Affairs Special Advisor to the PM, then Public Mobilization & Participation Special Advisor to the Prime Minister (2005–2008); Government Chief Whip, with a Ministerial portfolio (2008–2010). Party Posts: Member of the Executive Committee of the EPRDF and the SEPDM (2000–present); Chairman of the SEPDM (2002–present); Deputy Chairman of the EPRDF (since Sept 2010).
After his tenure as President of the SNNPR, Hailemariam worked in the Prime Minister's Office as the advisor on Social Affairs and Civic Organizations and Partnerships for two years. He led the team that drafted the Charities and Societies Proclamation law (CSO law) that limits the interference of international NGOs in local political activities. The law was adopted by the Ethiopian Parliament in 2009. He is also credited in pushing EPRDF to re-organize its structure after the 2005 elections via the '1-to-5' model (one member recruits five new people - አንድ ለአምስት አደረጃጀት) that boosted the number of party membership from 400,000 to 5 million by 2010 elections. In 2010, Hailemariam was sworn in to dual ministerial positions as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Prime Minister of Ethiopia
Following the death of Ethiopia's long-time Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on 20 August 2012, Deputy PM Hailemariam was appointed as the acting Premier. Hailemariam later became the permanent Prime Minister on 21 September 2012.
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