Ethiopia's Ambassador to China; Former Minister for Foreign Affairs; Deputy Chairperson of the TPLF; Executive Member of the EPRDF; Chairman of Ethiopian Airlines
Date of Birth: 25/01/1949
Place of Birth: Tigray province
With his January appointment as Ambassador to China, Seyoum Mesfin steps back from the day-to-day battles in Addis politics. He will, however, maintain a central role in his country’s relations with Beijing, which is an increasingly important ally. Seyoum was among those senior figures who resigned in 2010, making way for a new generation of politicians under the unshakeable Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)Chairman, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Seyoum will be charged with attracting investment in infrastructure and encouraging more projects like the China-Africa Development Fund-backed leather processing plant that opened in November. Ethiopia-China relations do not seem to need much improvement: in January, China Eximbank approved a US$293.5 million loan to Ethiopian Shipping Lines, which will buy nine new ships.
Born in 1949 in Tigray Province, Seyoum holds a degree from Bahir Dar Polytechnic Institute and taught for four years at the science faculty of Addis Ababa University. He was a founding member of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and acted as TPLF Foreign Affairs Secretary in its formative years. With the overthrow of Mengistu Haile Mariam’s regime in 1991, he took the Foreign Affairs portfolio in the new EPRDF-led government. He was a member of the House of Peoples’ Representatives, the lower house of Parliament, for Adigrat.
Seyoum left the Foreign Ministry in September 2010. He was replaced by Hailemariam Desalegn, who also took over from him as TPLF Deputy Chairman. Shortly before departing for Beijing, Seyoum quit his post as Chairman of Ethiopian Airlines; former Deputy Prime Minister Addisu Legesse takes over there.