Ethiopian PM’s security advisor is new Amhara leader

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Ethiopia’s Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) named the security adviser to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed head of the restive Amhara region after his predecessor was killed in a violent attempt to seize power.

Dozens were killed in fighting during the foiled coup by a rogue state militia in Amhara that claimed the life of regional president Ambachew Mekonnen and other top officials. The same night, the army’s chief of staff and a retired general accompanying him were killed in Addis Ababa in a related attack, government said.

The ADP said on its Facebook page it nominated Abiy’s security adviser Temesgen Tiruneh as Ambachew’s successor in Amhara. The party controls the Amhara regional government and is one of four in the national governing coalition.

The Amhara violence was the strongest challenge yet to the rule of Abiy, who rolled out ambitious political and economic reforms in what was once one of Africa’s most repressive countries since coming to power in April 2018.

Abiy freed political prisoners and journalists, offered amnesty for some rebel groups and opened up space for some parties ahead of planned parliamentary elections next year in Africa’s second most populous country.

His government also presided over a rise in ethnic violence as regional powerbrokers try to grab more power and territory and air long-held grievances against the Addis Ababa coalition. More than 2.4 million of Ethiopia’s 100 million citizens are displaced.

Temesgen’s nomination is expected to be ratified by the Amhara regional council at a later date, according to an ADP central committee member.