Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Demeke Mekonnen, a stalwart in the position for over 11 years across three successive prime ministers, is set to be succeeded by spy chief Temesgen Tiruneh, according to a senior government official speaking to Reuters on Friday.
Temesgen, recently elected as the vice president of the ruling Prosperity Party, a role synonymous with the deputy prime minister, as reported by state-run media.
Demeke’s tenure has been marked by continuity during turbulent times in Ethiopian politics. He assumed the position following the demise of longtime Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 2012 and navigated through the reorganization of the ruling party after Abiy Ahmed assumed power in 2018.
Temesgen, the head of the national intelligence service, has been instrumental in coordinating the government’s response to the conflict that erupted last year in the Amhara region involving local militias.
Following the outbreak of civil war in the northern Tigray region in November 2020, Abiy appointed Demeke as foreign minister. The conflict lasted two years, claiming tens of thousands of lives. While a peace deal was signed between the government and rebel forces in Tigray in November 2022, Ethiopia continues to grapple with insecurity.
Apart from the unrest in Amhara, the Oromiya region, the country’s largest, has seen escalating violence in recent years, resulting in hundreds of casualties and displacing tens of thousands.