Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced Thursday that he has resigned as head of government and as president of the ruling coalition in an effort to facilitate reforms after a period of protests.
Hundreds of people have died in the protests that began in 2015 and continued in 2016 following an urban development project in Addis Ababa that degenerated into demonstrations against political restrictions and human rights abuses in the country that were severely repressed.
“The instability and the political crisis have led to the loss of lives and the displacement of many,” Hailemariam said in a televised message to the nation. “I see my resignation as vital in the attempt to carry out reforms that would lead to a sustainable democracy and peace,” he added.
Desalegn has clarified that he will remain as interim prime minister until the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and Parliament accept his resignation and appoint a new head of government.
Desalegn, in office since September 2012, announced a few weeks ago a partial amnesty for political prisoners that has led to the release of hundreds of detainees during the protests as well as some prominent opponents.