Hailemariam Desalegn says he has submitted his resignation as both Ethiopia’s prime minister and chairman of the country’s ruling coalition.
Hailemariam’s announcement comes amid a political crisis and lingering unrest in the Horn of Africa country, which has been releasing thousands of political prisoners to ease tensions.
“Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many,” Hailemariam said in a televised address on Thursday.
“I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy,” he said.
Hailemariam added, however, that he will stay on as prime minister in a caretaker capacity, until the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the country’s parliament accept his resignation and name a new premier.
Media reports say parliament will meet on Friday to choose Hailemariam’s successor and noted that Ethiopian Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu is considered to be a leading candidate for the position.
“If they choose a candidate from either of the two main groups who have been protesting for most of the past three years, the Oroma and the Amhara, then it will be interesting to see how they are going to appease the other group that they leave out of this coalition,” he said.
Hundreds of people have died in a wave of violence across Ethiopia, initially sparked by an urban development plan in the capital, Addis Ababa, in 2015.
The unrest spread as demonstrations against political restrictions and human rights abuses broke out.