Ethiopians have woken up to a new leader, and a renewed sense of hope.

Abiy Ahmed has been voted in as leader of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, paving the way for him to step into the shoes of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who unexpectedly resigned last month.

He inherits a country which has seen some of the fastest economic growth in the world in recent years.

But it has also been riven by years of protests by people who feel marginalised, with a government accused by many of human rights violations – including torture and extrajudicial killing of political dissidents.

So is Mr Abiy – praised as an astute politician with impressive academic and military credentials – the man to lead Ethiopia into a peaceful, prosperous and free future?
Who is Abiy Ahmed?

Mr Abiy’s background is crucial to the way people view him.

When he is sworn in, he will become the country’s first Oromo leader – the ethnic group at the centre of nearly three years of anti-government protests, which have left hundreds of people dead.

One of their main complaints is that they have been politically, economically and culturally marginalised for years – despite being the country’s largest group.

The election of Mr Abiy – who is believed to have huge support among the Oromo youth as well as other ethnic groups – may change that.

He is leader of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO), one of the four ethnic parties which make up the ruling the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition.
The 42-year-old, who was born in the city of Agaro in Oromia and comes from a mixed Christian-Muslim family, joined the OPDO in the late 1980s.

He has served in the military and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, before becoming the founder and director of the country’s Information Network and Security Agency, which is responsible for cyber-security in a country where the government exercises tight control over the internet.

After that he became the minister for science and technology.


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