As the reshuffling the Federal Government began two weeks ago at the highest echelons of the government continued, Mukhtar Kedir, vice president of Oromia Regional State, has been brought to the central government as Advisor to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Public Mobilization with Ministerial Portfolio last week.
His predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, is also expected to leave his other post as EPRDF’s Deputy Secretary General to Mukhtar, as the former has just been appointed Government Representative at Parliament with the same portfolio.
Hailemariame’s predecessor, Shiferaw Jareso, has also gone the PM office as his advisor on Basin Affair’s.
Both Mukhtar and Shiferaw are the first officials from Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) – one of the four regional parties that form the ruling coalition, EPRDF – to assume such posts at the Prime Minister Office.
Following Mukhtar’s transfer to a senior position at the central government, Abdulaziz Mohammed, who has been Head of Addis Abeba City Mayor’s Office for about six months, will now head for Oromia to take over the former’s position. Abdulaziz was officially appointed as the new Vice President of Oromia last Thursday, November 13, 2008.
Currently, Bereket Simon from Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), Abay Tsehaye from Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) and the soon to depart Hailemariam Desalegn from Southern Ethiopia Peoples Democratic Movement (SPDM), are the three major politicians surrounding the Prime Minister as advisors on Public Relations, Security and Public Mobilization matters, respectively, with Ministerial Portfolios.
Mukhtar is the new entrant to the circle of the most influential politicians of the country. The former Vice President of Oromia, who took on his new duty a few days back, makes political history as one of the first OPDO members to enter the PM’s in his present capacity.
Before being the second top most official in Oromia in 2003, Mukhtar had been Administrator of Jimma Zone from 1999 to 2003, one of the ten zones in the region that includes the Special Zone established more than a week ago to administer the eight towns around Addis Abeba. He was also Secretary General of the Regional Government for months in between his jobs in Jimma and as Vice President of the region.
He earned his first degree in Law from the Civil Service College and his second degree in International Leadership from Asuza Pacific University of California in August 2008.
“Mukhtar graduated with great distinction, especially for his second degree, winning a gold medal,” said Mohamed Abagisa, mayor of Jimma Town and a close friend of Mukhtar. “He also has a good reputation in Jimma Zone for his works.”
Early last week, Mukhtar was busy handing over his office in Oromia Regional Government to Abdulaziz, who had been Mayor of Dire Dawa Town Administration before becoming Head of Kuma Demeksa’s Office nearly six months ago.
After spending half a year at the municipality office, Abdulaziz is now heading to the largest region in Ethiopia to be its second most powerful person.
The incoming Vice President of Oromia obtained his first degree in Forestry from Haromaya University in 1995 and has just earned his second degree in Organizational Leadership from the same school at the same time as Mukhtar.
Before being appointed as mayor of Dire Dawa in 2006, he was the Deputy Administrator of East Harege Zone and Hareri Regional State.
“The changes Adulaziz has brought about during his time in Hareri are significant,” Murad Abdulhadi, president of Hareri Regional State, told Fortune. “He has the ability to work with people effectively and is professional in his job.”
Although Abdulaziz had not been in full swing in his month’s stay with the Addis Abeba City Government, he had been handling people who came to the Mayor’s Office with complaints.
For example, more than a week ago, he talked to hundreds of tenants of the Government Houses Agency (GHA) who gathered at his office complaining about a recent move by the agency to evict them, claiming that they were illegal.
Some of the complainants told Fortune that they noticed that Abdulaziz was sincere in his attempts to look into their problems and gave them hope that the city government would discus the issue with GHA and seek solutions.
It is expected both officials will become active in their new positions next week.