Controversy as PM Abiy appoints Ethiopian as IGAD Executive Secretary

Former Ethiopia Foreign Affairs Minister Workeneh Gebeyehu has been appointed as the new IGAD Executive Secretary.

In a letter seen by The Brief and signed by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, who is also the Intergovernmental Authority on Development chairman, Gebeyehu’s appointment is effective November 1, 2019.

“In my capacity as the chairman of the Assembly of the IGAD Heads of State and Government, and pursuant to the decision of the latter during the October 10, 2019 consultations on the margins of the inauguration of Unity Park in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I am pleased to confirm your appointment as the IGAD Executive Secretary,” the letter dated October 22, 2019 reads in part.


The position, which is currently held by Ambassador Mahboub Maalim, a Kenyan, was reportedly desperately wanted by Somalia.

Maalim took over from Dr Attalla Bashir of Sudan, who had served two four-year terms between 2000 and 2008.

However, VOA News reporter Harun Maruf reported controversy over the appointment, saying, “Multiple diplomats are now suggesting the appointment of Workeneh Gebeyehu as IGAD Executive Secretary was a “unilateral decision” by Ethiopia.”

Quoting a diplomatic source, Maruf said the signing of the letter appointing Workeneh was u-procedural as it should have been preceded by the Summit in which a communique as to which country becomes the new chair and as to who becomes the new IGAD Executive Secretary of is agreed on.

On March 8 this year, Gebeyehu was appointed as Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi to succeed Hanna Tetteh of Ghana who was appointed as Special Representative to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union.


Workneh Gebeyehu was Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia between 2016-2018.

He served as Member of the Addis Ababa City Council since 2012, and previously served as Minister of Transport of Ethiopia (2013-2016) and Member of Ethiopian House of People’s Representative Parliament (2005-2012).
He served in different positions at regional and federal levels of the government of Ethiopia, notably, Commissioner General of the Ethiopian Police (2001-2012), Head of Administration Affairs Bureau and Cabinet member of Oromiya Regional State (1999-2000). He also served in different positions (officer to department head) under the Security, Immigration and Refugee Authority (1992-1998).

Gebeyehu holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Master of Arts (MA) in Political Science and International Relations, Addis Ababa University, and PHD in police science from Criminal Justice and Police Science Department of the University of South Africa (March 2016).

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