The post-EPRDF politics began last week...

Jan 4 , 2020

The post-EPRDF politics began last week, with the highest political body of the Prosperity Party (PP), the inheritor of the EPRDF, convening its founding meeting. Notable absences were Lemma Megersa, once a staunch ally of Abiy Ahmed (PhD), the chairman, and Takele Uma, deputy mayor of Addis Abeba.

A few days later, the TPLF held an extraordinary assembly of its congress, the first such event in the over 40-year history of the founding force behind the now-defunct EPRDF. The convention in Meqelle will put an official stamp on the decisions both the political bureau and the central committee of the TPLF have taken not to join the bandwagon of the Prosperity Party. This will open a new era of bitter political contestations between the multicultural federalist and the integrationist federalist forces.

Rival political forces active in the Oromia Regional State have formed an electoral front against the Prosperity Party. Jawar Mohammed, the consequential figure in contemporary politics; Dawid Ebsa, the soft-spoken and thoughtful leader of the OLF; Merera Gudina (Prof.), the sharply witty politician chairing the OFCo; and Kemal Gelchu, a former military General leading a faction of the OLF, have all teamed up to deny support in the Oromia region to a political force they see is determined to roll back gains of the federal political structure in favour of a nostalgic bureaucratic empire, gossip observed.

Political developments over the past few weeks signal a day of reckoning is nearing should divorce with the TPLF and divergence with other forces fail to be handled delicately, claims gossip.

One of the concessions Lemma has won in his reconciliation with Abiy is the unfeigned commitment to federalism, says gossip. However, his protégé, Takele, appears to be out in the cold, subjected to a series of campaigns in undermining his authority and eroding his popularity by groups camped at Arat Kilo, gossip revealed.

The coming weeks will see several reshufflings in his cabinet, driven by electoral campaign strategists of Prosperity Party trying to place their loyal soldiers to fight for every vote in the city council and seats the capital has in the federal parliament, claims gossip. It is also very likely that the decision by the TPLF not to join the Prosperity Party will lead to the purging of its members both from the City Administration and the federal government, gossip anticipates.

Already, changes in high profile positions in the federal government are taking place. Redwan Hussien is back from his brief debut as Ethiopia's ambassador to Eritrea to serve as state minister for Foreign Affairs. This was despite the displeasure of Muferiat Kamil, minister of Peace, who had resisted Redwan's nomination to the cabinet before he was assigned to Asmera, gossip claims.

Redwan has replaced Markos Tekle (PhD), who angered his bosses for tweeting in favour of the Sidama Zone referendum, and recently for putting out a statement on the dispute about an interrupted flight to Meqelle. Despite obtaining clearance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a flight a few weeks ago bound for Meqelle with a high-level Chinese delegation onboard was stopped at Bole airport due to the security establishment confusing names in the flight manifesto with Chinese nationals on the run for alleged tax-related crimes, gossip disclosed.

Less than a year since the current cabinet formed, Prime Minister Abiy will have to reshuffle it to fill a number of departures, gossip foresees.

No less than three have already tendered their resignations: Amir Aman of Health; Tilaye Gete (PhD) of Education; and Sileshi Bekele of Water, Irrigation & Electricity. The first two have joined international organisations, while Sileshi is likely to go back to his former employers, gossip disclosed. Besides nominating ministers for these cabinet portfolios, a series of other ministries such as Trade & Industry; Science & Higher Education; Finance; Women, Children & Youth; and Culture & Tourism are expected to see new faces, gossip anticipates.

It may include two of the four state ministers under Muferiat - Seyoum Mesfin (PhD) and Almaz Mekonnen - who are most likely to be relieved of their positions, while Frealem Shibabaw, a businesswoman, is most likely under consideration for an appointment, gossip disclosed.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 04,2020 [ VOL 20 , NO 1027]

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