Ethiopia elects first Muslim PM to tackle political turmoil
Ethiopia has picked a leader from the Oromo ethnic group that drove years of anti-government protests for the first time on Wednesday, but analysts say Abiy Ahmed faces a tricky task of reconciliation and reform.
The 42-year-old former minister of science and technology, who is the first Muslim prime minister to lead the country, will take the reigns of one Africa's fastest growing economies after more than two years of protests and political turmoil that led to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn's shock resignation last month.
But analysts say Abiy cannot stabilise Ethiopia unless he convinces the country's long-serving ruling coalition to change its authoritarian ways.
First on his agenda, they say, should be repealing a widely criticised state of emergency imposed after Hailemariam's resignation last month.
"Lifting the state of emergency is, I think, the first or most important step. Without that, there is no reform agenda," said Awol Allo, an Ethiopian political commentator who teaches law in Britain.
Ethiopia's spiral into crisis began in late 2015 when Oromo activists who have long complained of marginalisation condemned a government development plan they felt was unfair.
This sparked protests that would spread across the country and cause hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of arrests.
Their grievances were targeted at the all-powerful Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the coalition of four ethnically based parties which has ruled Ethiopia since chasing the communist Derg regime from power in 1991.
The government declared a 10-month state of emergency in October 2016 to stop the protests, but many from the Oromo and the second-largest ethnic group the Amhara still feel alienated from a government they criticise for locking up dissidents and ignoring the demands of local communities.
"His priority should be to calm the country and, secondly, he needs to address the questions of the youth because the young people are the ones that can help our country," Hana Dabele, a data encoder in the capital Addis Ababa, said of Abiy.
Agencies contributed to this report.