These are the 7 leaders on the race to become Ethiopia's new Prime Minister

The resignation of Hailemariam, in power since 2012, came amid a political crisis and lingering unrest in the Horn of Africa country,

The resignation of Hailemariam, in power since 2012, came amid a political crisis and lingering unrest in the Horn of Africa country, which has been releasing thousands of political prisoners to ease tensions.

"Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many," Hailemariam said in a televised address on Thursday.

"I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy," he said.

Ethiopia's ethnic make-up: Oromo - 34.4%, Amhara - 27%, Somali - 6.2%, Tigray - 6.1% and others - 26.3% will play a decisive factor in determining who carries the day.

Here are seven candidates who are on race to replace Mr. Desalegn.

#1. Lemma Magersa

He is the current President of the Oromia Regional State and deputy leader of the OPDO.

The charismatic 47-year-old was born and raised in East Welega, Oromia is seen as a fearless and eloquent reformer.

He was once quoted as saying he was ready to go out and join demonstrators if the government did not heed the demands of protesters especially from his region.

He is deemed as an acceptable candidate who can unify the country but his path to the top seat is complicated. He's not a member of the federal parliament, the House of People's Representatives, a requirement to become prime minister.

However, despite his meteoric rise within the ruling party and Ethiopia's complex politics, his critics believe he is too inexperienced to take on the intricacies of the EPRDF.

#2. Abiy Ahmed

Mr. Ahmed is an astute politician with impressive academic and military credentials.

He is the current leader of the OPDO which he joined in the late 1980s, and he is seen as the front-runner in the race to succeed the outgoing prime minister having just been elected to head the party.

The 42-year-old was born in the city of Agaro in Oromia and comes from a mixed Christian-Muslim family.

He was the founder and director of the country's Internet Security Agency between 2009 and 2012 after which he became the minister for science and technology.

He is seen by many as outspoken and competent and a person who leans to a participatory leadership style.

Mr Abiy is younger than the other potential leaders and is believed to have huge support among the Oromo youth as well as other ethnic groups.

His critics however say that as an EPRDF insider, he won't offer much of the change demanded by protesters.

#3. Debretsion G Michael

Mr Debretsion os the chairperson of the TPLF party and the deputy head of state for the Tigray region as well as the minister for information and communications.

He was born in Shire, located in the northern Tigray region, h dropped out of his studies at the University of Addis Ababa to join the armed struggle.

During this time he travelled to Italy where he completed training in communications technology. After which he established the regional TPLF radio station known as "Dimtsi Weyane".

Activists and opposition political parties argue that the TPLF dominates the political power in the coalition, so his election as prime minster would be a controversial move that would be likely to deepen divisions within the coalition and further inflame feelings of exclusion among the Oromo and Amhara communities

#4. Demeke Mekonen

He is the current deputy prime minister.

He joined the EPRDF after university and a few years later became a member of the Amhara region council.

Prior to coming to power, Mr Demeke was a teacher and served as the education minister.

#5. Siraj Fegessa

The sharply dressed but straight-faced politician is currently Ethiopia's defence minister.

He has been the face of the state of emergencies announced in October 2016 and again in February 2018 and is seen as one of the least favourite to become the new prime minister.

He constantly appeared on state media articulating the conditions imposed by the state of emergency.

He is a member of the SEPDM, the same party as the recently resigned prime minister and has just been announced as its deputy leader, further complicating his ascendancy to power.

Some analysts say his party might argue that Mr Hailemariam never finished his term and therefore might suggest that Mr Siraj or someone from within SEPDM for the premiership.

#6. Workneh Gebeyehu

Born in the late 1960s, Mr Workneh is a member of OPDO and is the current foreign affairs minister.

He has served for many years as the commissioner for the federal police commission.

A member of the OPDO since the late 1980s, Mr Workneh has since the late 2000s served as a member of the executive committee for both the OPDO and EPRDF.

#7. Shiferaw Shigute

Born in Haroressa, in the southern Ethiopia region,  Mr. Shiferaw was a teacher before joining politics.

Shiferaw is the newly elected chairman of the SEPDM replacing the recently resigned prime minister who was also the chairman of the party.

When the outgoing prime minister was still the region's president, Mr Shiferaw was deputy president of the southern Ethiopia regional state government.

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