By Adis Getachew and Seleshi Tessema
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) - Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn's resignation on Thursday amid a lingering political crisis in the Horn of Africa country has drawn mixed feelings.
Politicians claim the resignation is just the tip of the iceberg as they demand genuine reform in the country.
Tigistu Awelu, chairman of the opposition Ethiopian Unity party, said the resignation is the first sign of a crumbling political system that has failed to uphold the constitutional promise of an inclusive and democratic state.
"Had this been in a presidential system we could have a national election, but this is not the case here,’’ he said.
Ethiopia follows a parliamentary system. The Parliament is expected to meet on Tuesday to approve the resignation and elect a successor.
Awelu said selection of a new prime minister will in itself not be an easy task for the ruling party coalition, which comprises of four ethnicities.
‘’The resignation and the appointment of a new prime minister is a change of a drum not the rhythm. We are wary of the country which is at crossroads,’’ he added.
Anti-government protests in the country began more than two years ago, mostly in Oromia and Amhara regions.
Several hundreds were killed and thousands arrested in a government crackdown. In October 2016, the government declared a state of emergency which lasted for 10 months.
The prime minister’s resignation came at the end of a three-day strike in Oromia, the largest and most populous region in the country.
Awelu said the country needed a peaceful transition of leadership.
‘’We cannot allow the country to descend to a failed state,’’ he added.
Mulatu Gemechu, spokesman of opposition Medrek party, said: "The resignation of the prime minister is an outcome of the popular peaceful struggle in the last three years."
He said the outgoing prime minister and his government had failed to uphold the constitution and lead the nation.
"The resignation and a new leader will make no difference. We need a new beginning. A total structural change in this country if we have to continue as a nation,’’ he said.
According to him, the current situation demanded a transitional government, which will be composed of all opposition parties including the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Revolutionary Front.
Gemechu, added that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had always dominated the four-party coalition.
Some stakeholders hope that this resignation may open new opportunities for the ruling party to introduce real reforms and address to popular demands for political freedom and economic justice.
For now Ethiopia, in the words of the outgoing prime minister, is going through a "critical phase".