Hailemariam confirmed as leader of EPRDF

Hailemariam Desalegn has been elected as the head of Ethiopia's ruling coalition the Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) after receiving unanimous backing, according to government spokesman Bereket Simon.

Hailemariam was appointed acting prime minister on the death of Meles Zenawi in August, and previously served as deputy prime minister under his predecessor who ruled Ethiopia for 21 years. Meles was president of the EPRDF in addition to being prime minister, and Hailemariam will be a candidate to succeed Meles when parliament votes on the matter after reconvening in October.

It is widely expected that Hailemariam will be chosen as prime minister, leading Ethiopia until the elections scheduled for 2015 and finishing the five-year term of government begun by Meles.

Highlighting the fact that Hailemariam belongs to a new era of Ethiopian politicians without a history as rebel fighters, the EPRDF "has decided that the leadership should pass to the new generation which had not taken part in the armed struggle" that brought the coalition to power, according to a statement released by the party.

Meanwhile the current education minister Demeke Mekonnen was elected vice-president of the EPRDF, and will seek election as deputy prime minister when the parliament votes in October.

The EPRDF holds an overwhelming parliamentary majority and comprises four parties, each representing a specific region: Meles's party the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF); the Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organization (OPDO); Hailemariam's party, the South Ethiopian Peoples' Democratic Movement (SEPDM); and Demeke’s party, the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM).