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Cablegate: Partial Cabinet Reshuffle

VZCZCXRO1376
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #3011/01 3080809
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 030809Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2616
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEPADJ/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 003011

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR KDEM ET
SUBJECT: PARTIAL CABINET RESHUFFLE

SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) On October 30, the Ethiopian parliament approved the
appointment of nine ministers presented by Prime Minister Meles.
Five of the nine ministers were members of the former cabinet and
four are newcomers. Four of the outgoing ministers remain without
role in the government. The following individuals shifted
position:

-- (U) Adissu Legesse - Deputy Prime Minister. Chairman and founder
of the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) party within the
Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition,
Adissu has been with the government since 1991. He served as Amhara
Region president from October 1995 until his appointment as Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in
October 2001. Adissu will remain Deputy Prime Minister, essentially
a ceremonial position, but has been stripped of the Agriculture
Ministry portfolio.

-- (SBU) Berhan Hailu - Justice Minister. An ANDM central committee
member, Berhan has been with the party since 1991. He served as
head of the Information Bureau of the Amhara region from October
2001 until his appointment as Minister of Information in early 2006
replacing Bereket Simon. While many have viewed Berhan's position
as Information Minister as merely a token after Bereket's initial
May 2005 electoral defeat (he was later re-elected in the
opposition-boycotted by-election in August 2005), his appointment
may be more an indicator of government dissatisfaction with
departing Justice Minister Assefa Kesito over the roll-out and
public engagement regarding the contentious draft civil society
organizations proclamation.

-- (SBU) Siraj Fegesa - Defense Minister. A Central Committee
member of the Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement
(SEPDM) within the EPRDF since 2005, Siraj has served as Minister of
Federal Affairs since October 2005. Siraj fills the Defense
Minister position after a five month vacancy. While Ethiopia
watchers had hoped for the appointment of a strong personality to
counter the influence of the powerful Chief of Defense Staff Gen.
Samora Yunus, the appointment of Siraj suggests business as usual
with the military.

-- (U) Hailemariam Desalegne - EPRDF Chief Whip in Parliament.
Chairman and Central Committee member of the SEPDM, Hailemariam was
an academic and Dean of Arbaminch Water Technology from 1998 until
his appointment as president of the Southern Nations Nationalities
Peoples' Regional State (SNNPRS) in 2001. He became Public
Organization and Participation Advisor to the Prime Minister in
October 2005.

-- (U) Demeke Mekonnen - Minister of Education. A Central Committee
member of the ANDM, Demeke served as Secretary of the Amhara Region
under Addisu Legesse from 1995 until October 2001. After 2001, he
ran the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Bureau in the Amhara region until
his appointment as Vice-President of the Amhara Region in October
2005.

-- (U) Junedin Sado - Minister of Science and Technology. A
Central Committee member of the Oromo Peoples' Democratic
Organization (OPDO) within the EPRDF coalition, Junedin has been a
member of OPDO since 1992. He served as President of Oromiya Region
from October 2001 until his appointment as Minister of Transport and
Communication in October 2005. There is debate as to the meaning of
Junedin's move to lead Junedin will be the first Minister to lead
the newly -formed Ministry of Science and Technology.

-- (U) Diriba Kuma - Minister of Transport and Communication. An
OPDO Central Committee member, Diriba has been the North Shoa Zone
Administrator of Oromiya Region until his appointment as Head of the
Oromiya regional Agricultural Bureau in October 2005. New to the
sector Diriba's portfolio will include the important
telecommunications, aviation, and roads sectors.

-- (U) Muferiat Kamil - Minister of Women's Affairs. At the age of
32, Muferiat is the youngest of the newly appointed Ministers. She
was born in Jimma from Silte Parents. She Graduated from Haramaya
University with BSc. degree in Agriculture in 2000. She worked as
the women's Affairs head of Silte Zone, SNNPRS from 2002 until her
appointment as Public Relations Advisor to the SNNPR President in
2007. She was transferred to the EPRDF office in Addis Ababa in
April 2008 and worked as a junior public relations officer until her
recent appointment as Minister of Women's Affairs. She is a member
of SEPDM.

ADDIS ABAB 00003011 002 OF 002

-- (SBU) Tefera Deribew - Minister of Agriculture and Rural
Development. An ANDM Central Committee member, Tefera has a
Master's of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics with 14 years
of grass-roots experience in agriculture and rural development. He
worked as head of North Gondar Zone Agriculture Department from 1997
until his appointment as head of the Amhara regional Agricultural
Bureau in October 2005. The separation of the Agriculture and Rural
Development portfolio -- which includes responsibility for
humanitarian disasters and relief efforts -- from the less
accessible and effective Deputy Prime Minister Adissu, offers
grounds for optimism that the Ministry may become more responsive to
humanitarian issues. The move also likely indicates a lack of
confidence in Adissu for his handling of humanitarian and disaster
responses as well as less-than-targeted growth in agricultural
productivity.

-- (U) Dr. Shiferaw Tekle-mariam - Minister of Federal Affairs. A
Central Committee member of SEPDM, Dr. Shiferaw is an ethnic Hadiya
who was appointed as State Minister for Health in April 2007. Prior
to his appointment, he served as a member of the House of Federation
where he was a member of the Standing Committee on Budget Subsidy
and Revenue Affairs. He additionally served as the head of the
SNNPRS regional Health Bureau from 2000 until his appointment as
State Minister in 2007.

2. (SBU) Assefa Kesito former Justice Minister, Sentayehu
Woldemichael former Minister of Education, Shiferaw Jarso former
Chief Whip of the EPRDF at the Parliament, and Hirut Delebo, former
Women's Affairs Minister now have no role in the government.

3. (SBU) EPRDF Foreign Affairs Department Head Sekuture Getachew
informed Pol/Econ Chief on October 31 that in addition to these
changes, the government will dissolve the Ministry of Information
and re-mold it into a new Ministry of Public Relations. Sekuture
confided that former Information Minister and current Public
Relations Advisor to the Prime Minister Bereket Simon will be
appointed as the first Minister of that to-be-formed Ministry.

COMMENT
-------

4. (SBU) Following the Seventh EPRDF Congress in September, it was
apparent that some members of the cabinet were out of favor. The
Prime Minister as well as top leaders of EPRDF were displeased with
the lackluster performance of some of the ministries and a reshuffle
was anticipated. While the government has maintained the delicate
balance among its ethnically-based EPRDF coalition partners, it is
notable that none of the core Tigrayan People's Liberation Front
(TPLF) members were affected by the shift. The appointment of new
Ministers of Agriculture, Transport and Communication, and Women's
Affairs will hopefully breathe new life and responsiveness into
those ministries. The injection of new blood will definitely
invigorate the performance of the cabinet, but the appointment of
very young ministers with little experience is a matter of concern
to observers.

YAMAMOTO

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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