Ethiopia’s Abiy taps opposition, keeps finance head in cabinet

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (center) is sworn in for a second five-year term, at the House of Peoples Representatives in the capital Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Oct 4, 2021. (PHOTO / AP)

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed named opposition leaders to join his new cabinet, while he retained his deputy, Demeke Mekonnen, and finance minister, Ahmed Shide, in their roles.

Abiy proposed three opposition politicians, including Berhanu Nega as education minister, in a speech to lawmakers on Wednesday. The others are Belete Molla, who comes in as innovation and technology minister and Kejela Merdassa as the head of the culture docket.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who lawmakers reappointed on Oct 4 following his party’s landslide election win, now has a five-year mandate to lead Ethiopia

Abiy also named Abraham Belay to head the defense ministry. Abraham led the interim government in the Tigray region before the rebels regained control of the region in June.

The parliament approved Abiy’s nominees. 

ALSO READ: Ethiopian leader secures new mandate as conflict rages on

Deputy Prime Minister Demeke will also continue as the nation’s foreign minister. 

Meanwhile, Dagmawit Moges was named to remain as transport chief. She is expected to announce the final report into the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines-operated Boeing Co. 737 Max jet in March 2019, an incident that led to the grounding of the planemaker’s best-selling aircraft at the time.

Habtamu Iteffa is set to take over as the new head of the water and energy ministry, and is expected to supervise operations of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam. The facility is at the center of a diplomatic standoff with Egypt and Sudan, the nations wary of Ethiopia damning the Nile River and potentially hurting the flow of water downstream.

The prime minister, who lawmakers reappointed on Oct 4 following his party’s landslide election win, now has a five-year mandate to lead Ethiopia in the face of a civil war in the northern Tigray region that’s triggered an economic and humanitarian crisis. 

READ MORE: Ethiopia ruling party scores landslide election victory

Finance Minister Ahmed is overseeing the government’s push to revamp some of its almost $30 billion of external debt to give it room to support recovery from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Ahmed is also leading the government’s request for a new credit facility from the International Monetary Fund amid plans to transform the economy, partly by attracting foreign capital in sectors such as telecommunications.  

Yields on Ethiopia’s $1 billion 2024 bond climbed 6 basis points higher to 13.3 percent by 1:30 pm in London.