The Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn has submitted his resignation as both premier and chairman of the ruling coalition. The academician-turned-politician who has led Ethiopia since 2012 after the death of former strongman Meles Zenawi is stepping down in an effort to facilitate reforms following a period of mass unrest.

An urban development plan for the capital Addis Ababa sparked political unrest that spread in 2015 and 2016 as demonstrations against political restrictions and human rights violations broke out. The demonstrations engulfed much of the restive Oromia and Amhara regions before spreading into other parts of the country, leading to a months-long state of emergency that has since been lifted.

Read: Oromos still oppressed in Ethiopia

In his televised statement Desalegn said, “Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many, … I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy.”

Leading up to the resignation the government in recent weeks has released more than 6,500 detained opposition figures, journalists and others after the prime minister in an unexpected announcement in January said he wanted to “widen the democratic space for all.”

Read: Africa Rising: Ethiopian Tedros Ghebreyesus elected to lead the World Health Organization

Fana Broadcasting Corporate report said. “The 53-year-old prime minister will continue in his role until the power transition is completed.” He will stay on in a caretaker capacity until ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and parliament both accept his resignation and name a new premier.

Al Jazeera reported that the Ethiopian parliament will meet to choose Hailemariam’s successor with Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu as the current favourite. “If they choose a candidate from either of the two main groups who have been protesting for most of the past three years, the Oroma and the Amhara, then it will be interesting to see how they are going to appease the other group that they leave out of this coalition,” said the publication. Others however see Lemma, the president of the largest federal state, as the favourite for his political assertion and having the acceptance of many in the younger generation.

Jacob Zuma resignation

Desalegn’s resignation came just within a few hours of the departure of Jacob Zuma as president of South Africa, after weeks of negotiations and boisterous calls for his stepping down.

Zuma announced his resignation late into the night on Valentines Day, a move that many found both surprising in his choice to finally relinquish power and unsurprising that he ultimately heeded the recall from his party ANC.