Former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has said that he resigned early this year on realization that he could not inspire desired national reforms while still in the position.
He admitted that his country has been facing a set of challenges including limited democratic space which he said risked leading to disintegration of Ethiopia if left unchecked.
Desalegn was speaking at the Ibrahim Governance Weekend at the Kigali Convention Centre.
The summit which closes today is themed around public service in Africa and has convened over 1000 delegates from across the continent.
Desalegn said that as leader of the country, he realized that there were a set of problems that had ailed Ethiopia for years and required reforms which he could not implement as Premier.
“We have a problem of addressing multi-ethnic society, a problem of attitude among other issues, there is a need for deep reforms. So I said, I have to set aside myself in order to achieve these deep reforms,” he said.
His resignation he said was partly aimed at sending a message to his country, party and citizens that it was possible to leave power and still have influence to achieve the desired changes.
“The main problem in African politics is people stick to power. And I wanted to show that it is possible that you can leave while having power as a citizen in my country,” he said.
Desalegn added that his resignation and succession by a younger leader is also for the country’s best interest as it is likely to take concerns of young citizen’s going forward.
“We haven’t properly made our youth included into the system. And my government admittedly can say we do not understand the vision and the quest of our young people” he added.
The meeting has been themed around public service in Africa which a recent report by the forum showed continues to have major gaps including access and quality.
During the day’s sessions, delegates deliberated on the status of public service in the continent and ways to improve it.
Among the key challenges brought out by participants include the lack of adequate skills and capacity in public service sectors and financial constraints among others.
Dr Donald Kaberuka the former President of African Development Bank, said that among the best ways nations can fill the current gaps in public service was by fostering citizen involvement and public participation.
This he said would see public service move from a government only responsibility to incorporating the general population.
The Minister of Public Service and Labour, Fanfan Rwanyindo Kayirangwa, said Rwanda was particularly focused on improving the level of human resources to improve access and quality of public services.
“The most important thing is that we really focused on the human resources. We have few other resources and we took human resources as the first resource and we invested in the human capital,” she said.
This she said has seen the country improve various aspects of public service.