Ethiopia’s ruling coalition will hold a two-day governing council meeting from Friday to choose a leader to succeed former prime minister Meles Zenawi, who died last month, it said.
“The council assigns the chairperson of the organisation that replaces our great leader, who departed from us suddenly,” said an online statement Thursday by the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
During his 21 years in power, Meles was both EPRDF chairman and prime minister.
Government spokesman Bereket Simon told reporters that “automatically the chairperson will be the prime minister.”
However while this was the case under Meles, there is nothing to say that it will remain the same following his death, said a western diplomatic source in Addis Ababa.
After Meles’s death, deputy prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn was quickly named interim prime minister and presented by the government as the natural successor to the long-time ruler, who had groomed Hailemariam as his heir.
Parliament, however, has not yet reconvened to confirm Hailemariam as the country’s new leader.
An extraordinary session of parliament set for the end of August was cancelled and government spokesman Bereket told reporters that there was “no hurry” to reconvene the legislative body.
“There is no reason it will do it (reopen) before the last Monday of September,” Bereket said.
Hailemariam, 47, is considered an outsider compared to other core members of the ruling coalition, despite having held several high-ranking positions, including the post of foreign minister, according to analysts.
He did not participate in the guerilla war that ousted dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam from power in 1991 and does not come from the same northern Tigray region as Meles.
Hailemariam also belongs to Ethiopia’s minority protestant faith rather than the country’s dominant Christian Orthodox church.