Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegne, has become the country’s acting leader after the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
He is the first Protestant Christian head of government in the history of Ethiopia, and one of few southern region politicians in the Cabinet.
The 47-year-old politician was appointed deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs in September 2010, after the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front won a fourth consecutive election.
The party’s congress promoted Mr. Hailemariam to deputy chair of the party a few weeks later.
Mr. Hailemariam became seriously involved in politics in the late 1990s as a member of Ethiopia’s ruling party. He also became the deputy president of Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR), replacing Abate Kisho who was removed on corruption charges.
The acting prime minister’s education is in civil engineering.
He is expected to take the oath as prime minister in the coming days. It is not clear if he will remain in power until the next elections in 2015.