Ethiopia’s prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn has offered to resign from his position as premier of the country and chairman of the ruling coalition.
State media Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) confirmed the news on social media, saying Desalegn had submitted his letter to the the House of People’s Representatives and that he hoped the council would accept his request.
Desalegn’s resignation comes as the country struggles to conatin a political crisis with unrest in the restive Oromia region.
“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.
Political prisoners including opposition figures have recently been released to ease tensions.
According to FBC, Desalegn said he had done what he was able to do to solve the problem in the country.
“I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy,” the 53-year-old leader.
Desalegn became prime minister of Eastern Africa’s biggest economy in 2012 after the death of his predecessor, Meles Zenawi. He was elected chairman of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) on 12 September 2012.
He has previously served as deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.
An engineer by training, Desalegn is credited with maintaining the country’s economic progress, overseeing grand projects like the standard gauge railway and the Grand Renaissance Dam.
But his failure to deal with a political crisis that has seen hundreds of people die in demonstrations against political restrictions and human rights abuses, since 2015, has proved costly.
Hailemariam said he would stay on as prime minister in a caretaker capacity until the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the country’s parliament accepted his resignation and named a new premier.