Profile: The Newly-elected African Union Chairman Ethiopia’s Hailemariam Desalegn
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegnwas was elected as the new rotating chairperson of the African Union (AU) at the opening ceremony of the 20th AU Summit held here on Sunday.
Desalegnwas has become Prime Minister of Ethiopia after the former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died in August 2012. He was the Deputy Prime Minister under Zanawi and served as Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister from 2010 to 2012.
Hailemariam was born in 1965 in the Boloso Sore district of the Wolayita Zone in southern Ethiopia. He studied and spent most of his youth in the area.
In 1988, Hailemariam received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Addis Ababa University. He subsequently worked as a graduate assistant in the Arba Minch Water Technology Institute (now Arba Minch University). After two years of working in this capacity, he won a scholarship to Tampere University of Technology in Finland, where he earned a master’s degree in sanitation engineering.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he became involved in politics as member of Ethiopia’s ruling party the EPRDF and became the deputy president, and later president of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR). In October 2010, he was promoted as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Following the death of Ethiopia’s long-time Prime Minister Zenawi on Aug. 20, 2012, Hailemariam was appointed as the acting Premier. On Sept. 15, 2012, he was also elected as the Chair of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling party. And on Sept. 21, 2012, he became Prime Minister of the nation.