Regional to federal
The House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) has endorsed the nomination put forth by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) in his latest bid to shuffle his Cabinet. Accordingly, Lemma Megerssa andGedu Andargachew, former heads of the Oromia and Amhara Regional States, were chosen to assume key ministerial positions ofthe Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), respectively.
In aregular session of the HPR held on Thursday, the House voted on the PM’s nominees whose biographies were presented before MPs by the Deputy Whip, ChalaLemi.
Gedu fills the vacant post left by Workneh Gebeyehu(PhD) who recently left his Ministerial post for a position in the United Nations–Africa office in Nairobi.
Some political observers see the latest appointments as carefully crafted move to strengthen the Federal government’s power,which have been criticized for being overpowered by regional governments unlike before.
Ayisha Mohammed, the former Defense Minister, was reappointed as the Minister of Urban Development and Construction, a position she held before becoming the first female defense minister in Ethiopia.
For Aysha, the latest appointment is her fourth ministerial role over the past ten years.She worked as the Minister of Tourism and Culture before moving to Ministry of Construction and taking on the historic Defense post in 2018. She will be replacing Jantirar Abay, who have been minister of construction and urban development since October 2018.
All three appointees have since been sworn into office by President of Federal Supreme Court,Meaza Ashenafi.
After the current developments, even though changes have been made, Abiy’s gender-balanced cabinet that won him praise around the world remains intact having ten men and ten women members.
Immediately, after the latest appointment was approved by MP’s, Lemma’s new role to lead the national defense force has quickly sparked debate among many citizens.
Some viewed the move as a deliberate action made to help his party to tighten its grip in the country’s political and economic life, while others see it as a positive step, anticipating, he would transform the military by intensifying the ongoing reform in the Security and Military Sectors.
Born in East Wellega Zone,Gudeya Bilaworeda, Lemma Megerssa received a bachelor’s degree from Civil Service University in Economics and a master’s degree in International Relations from Addis Ababa University.
Lemma served as the speaker of Chefe, the Oromia regional council, before becoming the regional president in October 2016.
On the other side, Gedu has served as the president of the Amhara Regional State for the last five years until his resignation.He was replaced by Ambachew Mekonnen(PhD) on March.
He has also served in the past as deputy president of the region and head of the agriculture bureau.
House members commented that the nominations for such positions need to be based on a sustainable research in order to avoid frequent changes to ministerial appointments.
The House discussed the appointments and noted that the ministers had a wider experience in the public service sector in various positions and would fit for the positions for which they are appointed.
The House approved the appointments with a majority vote with one opposing and 5 abstaining.
The only vote against the nominee was from Kassa Gugsa, member of TPLF while four of the five MPs who voted in abstention are representatives of the Southern Ethiopia Democratic Movement - SEDP.