ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s parliament on Thursday approved the appointment of intelligence service chief Temesgen Tiruneh as deputy prime minister, replacing Demeke Mekonnen, who had served in the role for 11 years, state-run media reported.

In addition, parliament accepted the nomination of Taye Atske Selassie, a former ambassador to the United Nations, as foreign minister. Demeke had also served as foreign minister since 2020.

Temesgen, who has coordinated the government’s response to a conflict that broke out last year in the Amhara region, was elected in late January to succeed Demeke as a vice president of the ruling Prosperity Party.

A vice president of the party typically serves as deputy prime minister.

Demeke has been a face of continuity during a turbulent period in Ethiopian politics. He was appointed deputy prime minister after the death of longtime prime minister Meles Zenawi in 2012 and survived a reorganisation of the ruling party after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018.

Abiy appointed Demeke as foreign minister days after civil war broke out in November 2020 in the northern Tigray region. The conflict lasted two years and killed tens of thousands of people.

Mekdes Daba, a former World Health Organization official, has also been appointed to replace Lia Tadesse as health minister, the Ethiopian Broadcating Corporation said.

(Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw; Writing by George Obulutsa; Editing by Aaron Ross)

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