Abiy Ahmed (PhD) is an excellent illustration...


February 9 , 2019


The aura of power changes people. Abiy Ahmed (PhD) is an excellent illustration of this. Barely a year in the most powerful office in the country, he has evolved so much since beginning as a political maverick, gossip observed. Abiy seems to have developed long term goals with far-reaching consequences for the country. But he appears to be tactical in his approach, demonstrating a certain ambiguity in playing his cards, claims gossip.

Abiy enjoys a surprising level of goodwill from the international community, including from the Western media that portrays him as no less than a divine messenger to Ethiopia, gossip observed. Never mind that his once close friend, Getachew Reda, believes such support can be deceptive.

Although waning, his social and political capital domestically makes him confident not to worry about winning the next national election even under the EPRDF ticket, according to gossip. Winning a popular mandate for the EPRDF under his reign, he may believe, gives him the confidence to pursue grand re-engineering that will change the face of the political landscape, claims gossip.

But there could be short-term hurdles to overcome in somewhat tactical manoeuvering; there are too many loud voices in the opposition and the civil society that need to be subdued, according to gossip. Abiy might have understood that there are many individuals whose energy he needs to neutralise, tapping on the tools of soft power in acknowledging a sense of self-importance, claims gossip.

One such tool is a charm offensive whereby opposition stalwarts such as Brehanu Nega (PhD) are given regular access to his office on Lorenzo Te`azaz Road, says gossip. A leader of an insurgency against the EPRDF government Abiy now leads, Brehanu appears to have been dazzled by his access to the Prime Minister Office, where he frequents as many as two or three times a week, gossip disclosed.

Abiy also seems to have a knack for setting up advisory councils and commissions, using them as vehicles to bring many into the fold, hence legitimising his rule, claims gossip. They can serve as emissaries to his reign, helping him focus on his strategic political objectives, gossip says.

Just last week, Abiy tabled to parliament a list of 41 nominees each to serve in the commissions of border and identity issues and reconciliation. Never mind that many people were included in the list prior to their consent being sought, gossip observed. History will record that two of these - Gebru Tareqegn (PhD) and Assefa Fesseha (PhD) - have declined to accept their nominations.

Although parliamentarians remained true to their tradition in accepting the nominees as a bloc, it was not without a fight over the nomination of Hailemariam Desalegn, a former prime minister whose resignation from office cleared the way to Abiy’s ascendance. Hailemariam could perhaps be one of the three individuals pulling the levers of power to which Abiy owes his rise, claims gossip.

Observing some of the parliamentarians who resisted Hailemariam’s nomination to the reconciliation commission, it reveals the grudge TPLFites harbour against him, claims gossip. Indeed, TPLFites in parliament were joined by those from the Sidama Zone constituencies, for the latter hold him responsible for the killings of 26 protesters in Hawassa circa 2004, when he was a president of the regional state.

No less, Hailemariam has misgivings concerning the TPLFites, blaming them for incapacitating him while in office, claims gossip. His two major policy initiatives - rapprochement with Eritrea and privatisation of state assets, such as Ethio telecom and the state power company - were harshly attacked at the EPRDF Executive Committee meetings, gossip recalled.

Ironically, these are the very policy initiatives that have made his successor the darling for the international community, claims gossip.



PUBLISHED ON Feb 09,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 980]



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