November 30 , 2019
The public's attention, if not space, has been overwhelmed since late last week by a pronouncement of political dissent by Lemma Megersa, a once ardent ally of Abiy Ahmed (PhD). The coup de cœur of the two did not last long since the ascendance to power of Abiy, after unseating the historical hegemony of the TPLF from the ruling EPRDF, gossip recalled.
A cleavage between the two has been in the making since months after April 2018, gossip recalled. Lemma might have begun viewing the courting of Abiy by the Emirs as obscure, and the spectacular renovation of the Grand Palace as misappropriation of resources, clams gossip. He may believe this should not have been a priority, and it is unnecessarily taking the focus and energy away from the new administration, gossip claims.
The growing differences over substantive issues, such as the dissolution of the ODP and the evolution of the Prosperity Party (PP) out of the debris of the EPRDF, remain evident among their close circles, Worqneh Gebeyehu (PhD), a close mutual friend, being active in mediating between them, gossip recalled.
Lemma may have been a voice of caution from within, claims gossip. Nonetheless, the formidable challenge to Abiy's aspiration to go beyond party business and redefine how politics is undertaken comes from the TPLF. Its leaders have openly defied the making of PP and decided to go their separate ways, effectively becoming a political force governing a historically significant regional state in opposition to the force that is running the show at the federal level and in the rest of the regional states.
Any separation between parties in a union, whatever its form, like a divorce between a couple, leaves behind outstanding issues that require delicate handling. So is the sundering between the forces that have chosen to amalgamate and the TPLF, with a number of options on the table for contemplation by the respective parties.
Abiy had a meeting with leaders of the TPLF the following morning after the EPRDF Central Committee voted on the merger of the EPRDF, against the former's strong objection. Subsequently, the TPLF declined to attend the EPRDF Council meeting that has cemented the decision to merge, and there has been hardly any formal communications between the two since, claims gossip.
Perhaps troubled by such a turn of events, Abiy gave an audience on November 23, 2019, to a little over 50 business people who are natives of the regional state, gossip disclosed. He gave them his perspective on the rundown of development between him and the TPLF`s leadership, in as much as he put the blame on the latter for a breakdown of the relationship, reveals gossip. Abiy reiterated the options he has offered the TPLF political bureau a couple of weeks ago, according to gossip.
TPLFites may reconsider their position not to join the PP; that they may consider having a relationship with PP as an “allied party”; or, they may continue to be a governing party, provided that they could win the next elections in the Tigray Regional State, and a contending force with the seats in the federal parliament of the regional state, disclosed gossip. Abiy took the occasion to reassure these business people that the new political dynamics within the incumbent party should be no worries to them, claims gossip. He had also suggested that Debrtsion Gebremichael (PhD), chairman of the TPLF, needs to be supported, a remark some of them found uncanny, claims gossip.
Not many among the business people had the appetite to speak, bar three of them. Nonetheless, they had agreed to travel to Meqelle and speak with TPLFites and met five of the nine political bureau members, gossip disclosed. Alem Gebrewahid, Asmelash Woldesellasie and Getachew Reda were strong in the diatribe against Abiy, revealed gossip, emphasising the deficit of trust they have with Abiy as an obstacle to moving forward, claims gossip.
The group has since been back to Addis and expected to meet Abiy this week, hoping to impart their impression, says gossip. There is little they brought back in the form of a definitive answer though, according to gossip.
PUBLISHED ON Nov 30,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1022]
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