Ethiopia's demonstrations demanding wider freedoms began in late 2015 and spread into other parts of the country, leading to a months-long state of emergency that has since been lifted.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in the capital Addis Ababa on October 10, 2013.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in the capital Addis Ababa on October 10, 2013. (Reuters Archive)

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said on Thursday he had submitted his resignation as both premier and the chairman of the ruling coalition in an effort to facilitate reforms following a period of mass unrest.

Hundreds of people have died in violence sparked initially by an urban development plan for the capital Addis Ababa. The unrest spread in 2015 and 2016 as demonstrations against political restrictions and human rights abuses broke out.

"Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many," Hailemariam said in a televised address to the nation.

"... I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy," he said.

The 53-year-old prime minister will continue in his role until the "power transition is completed," the Fana Broadcasting Corporate report said. He also seeks to unseat himself from the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, the report said.

Ethiopia's demonstrations demanding wider freedoms began in late 2015 and engulfed much of the restive Oromia and Amhara regions before spreading into other parts of the country, leading to a months-long state of emergency that has since been lifted.

Ethiopia's government has long been accused of arresting critical journalists and opposition leaders. Rights organizations and opposition groups have called for their release, saying they were arrested on trumped-up charges and punished for their points of view

The academician-turned-politician has led Ethiopia since 2012 after the death of former strongman Meles Zenawi. He also served as deputy prime minister and foreign minister under the former leader before assuming power. He also was elected chairman of the African Union in 2013.

Source: Reuters