Berhanu Deressa, a former official in the Derg military regime and representative to the World Bank, has been appointed head of a new caretaker administration in Addis Ababa. The appointment, made by prime minister Meles Zenawi and endorsed by parliament with 300 votes in favour, 54 against and eight abstentions, ends the political impasse that has prevented the council elected in May 2005 from taking office. The provisional administration will hold office for a year before handing over to a new elected body. No indication has been given of when elections will be held.

The opposition won a clear victory in Addis Ababa in 2005 but the elected council has fallen foul of disagreements at national level over the results of parliamentary elections, also in May 2005, which returned prime minister Meles Zenawi and his Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) to power amid claims of massive fraud. Elected city mayor Berhanu Nega, deputy leader of the main opposition party Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), is currently in prison following his arrest last November in connection with violent anti-government protests involving clashes between the opposition and security forces which left dozens of people dead.

Deressa has taken over from state minister of works and urban development Arkebe Equbay, who was appointed provisional mayor in 2003 after Zenawi dismissed the previous government for incompetence.

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