Meles dissolves the Ministry of Information

By Bruck Shewareged, The Reporter

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – In a move that came as a surprise to many watchers, Prime Minister dictator Meles Zenawi announced the dissolution of the Ministry of Information and made a reshuffle in his cabinet. The dissolution of the ministry was announced on Thursday by the PM while addressing parliament.

Meles did not give any specific reason for dissolving the ministry but said in general that it is not due to a particular reason.

The dissolution of the ministry, some legal experts say, raises some questions as regards who would assume the mandates that the ministry used to have such as licensing newspapers and regulating the media.

So far, nothing has been said as to the fate of the different government media outlets and the Broadcasting Agency, which were accountable to the ministry.

It is not clear so far to which government institution the Ethiopian Television and Radio Enterprise and the state-owned newspapers will be accountable in the future.

While the Ministry of Information was dissolved, a new Ministry of Science and Technology came into existence. Parliament voted to accept the establishment of the ministry less than a month ago.

PM Meles also reshuffled his cabinet and appointed new ministers and reassigned some of the ministers to other ministries.

Junedin Sado, who was the Minister of Transport and Communications, now has become the first minister of Science and Technology.

Tefera Deribew takes over the ministerial portfolio for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development from Deputy Prime Minister Addisu Legesse, who was heading the ministry.

Diriba Kuma replaces Junedin Sado as Minister of Transport and Communications while Muferihat Kamil, the only female amongst the newly appointed ministers, takes the place of Hirut Dilebo as Minister of Women’s Affairs.

The Ministry of Defense, which was without a minister for over five months, has now Siraj Fegessa as its new minister. The position has been vacant since the former minister, Kuma Demeksa, left to become the mayor of the Addis Ababa City Administration nearly five months ago.

Dr. Shiferaw Teklemariam now heads the Minister of Federal Affairs in place of Siraj Fegessa, who is now the defense minister.

The Ministry of Education too has a new minister, Demeke Mekonnen, in place of Dr. Sintayehu Woldemichael. The former information minister, Berhan Hailu, was appointed as the new Minister of Justice ousting Assefa Kesito.

The government’s whip in parliament, Shiferaw Jarso, was also removed from his position and replaced by the former president of the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Regional State Hailemariam Desalegn.

In response to EDUP-Medhin party chairman Lidetu Ayalew’s inquiry as to why the government decided to reshuffle his cabinet, Meles said that in some ministries like the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, a full-timer minister was needed as the deputy prime minister also headed that ministry. He said that due to lack of time. the deputy prime minister could not give his full attention to the ministry.

Meles also said that the Ministry of Defense needed a new minister as the former minister left his position to become mayor of Addis Ababa.

Parliament approved the minister’s nominated by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi by a majority vote of 309 to 14 while 50 MPs abstained.