Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has resigned unexpectedly, saying he hoped to end years of unrest and political upheaval.
He said his resignation was “vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy”.
Mr Hailemariam, who has led the country since 2012, also stepped down as chairman of the ruling coalition.
Hundreds of people have died in three years of anti-government protests.
Political and Economic Reform
Demonstrations first spread across the country in 2015 amid calls for political and economic reform and an end to state corruption.
Most of the unrest has centred on Ethiopia’s two largest regions, Oromia and Amhara.
A 10-month national state of emergency that ended last year failed to stop the protests, as did the release of thousands of opposition supporters from jail last month.
“Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many,” Mr Hailemariam said.
“I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy.”
Report says Leaders of the governing coalition – the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) – held an emergency meeting following the announcement.
Ethiopia’s economic growth has been impressive but its steamroller approach to development has sparked years of regional, ethnic-based protest.