The Executive Committee of the ruling EPRDF reveals

May 18 , 2019

If there is anything the frequency of the meetings by the Executive Committee of the ruling EPRDF reveals, it is the magnitude of the crises and the weight of burden the administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) carries in governance, gossip observed. Things appear to have turned around so much so that it is the chairman of the EPRDF who now insists on having these meetings as regularly as possible. It is a marked departure from his mood a few months back when he was pushing back on pressure to convene these meetings, citing the Front`s bylaws that the Executive Committee meets every quarter, according to gossip.

Last week’s meeting was the third called in the past three months and will be followed by another in about a week, gossip disclosed. Despite its content, such intensity of the meetings reveals a retreat by Abiy from his earlier leadership style of dodging the party machinery in favour of the state’s structure, claims gossip. It ought to be a reckoning to him that in the absence of the very party machinery that propelled him and his allies to political power, it is unlikely for him to restore political order and stability, as well as pursue social and economic policies, according to gossip.

Unlike the Executive Committee meeting held two weeks ago, where the subject of interest was macroeconomic assessment and policy reforms, last week was about what is most crucial to the viability of the Ethiopian state. Members of the party’s top leadership reflected on the party’s achievements over the past year in reconciling with insurgent groups camped in Eritrea and calming the mutual hostility entrenched for the past two decades with the Eritrean state.

A notable absence from last week’s meeting was Chairman Debretsion G. Michael (PhD) of the TPLF and its Secretary-General, Alem Gebrewahid, two of the most powerful men in the senior party of the ruling coalition, gossip disclosed. The excuse made for their non-appearance was that both were leading town hall meetings in the central (in the case of Debretsion) and western (in the case of Alem) parts of Tigray Regional State when the call for the EPRDF meeting was made, gossip disclosed. But whether this was meant to send a signal to show their displeasure with the way the current EPRDF leadership runs the affairs of the state remains unclear, says gossip.

What is clear is TPLF leaders’ divergent views over the source of Ethiopia’s current debacle in national security and Abiy’s lack of force in ascertaining law and order across the country, claims gossip. The report tabled by Abiy to the Executive Committee meeting pointed its fingers to the rise of the mob, the proliferation of smuggling in light arms, incitement to violence perpetrated on the social media and the growth of political forces with an agenda of “narrow nationalism”, gossip says.

In the meeting last week, leaders of the TPLF made a case otherwise, claims gossip. They attached the mother of all troubles to a resurgence of “chauvinism” by political forces, including the leaders of parties in the ruling coalition, and the loss of a political culture of democratic centralism, gossip disclosed. Whether arms smuggling, destructive behaviour of those vocal on social media or complacency by members in the lower ranks of the party structure but in charge of weredas are byproducts of “chauvinism” or fallout from the party’s lack of discipline is uncertain.

To their dismay, the Executive Committee finally reinforced its views of blaming “narrow nationalists” for all the trouble and showed its resolve to fight back by restoring law and order and ascertaining “national security” goals, according to gossip. Henceforth comes the acid test for the administration of Prime Minister Abiy in keeping the balance between too many moving parts, gossip foresees. Restoring law and order; restraining law enforcement agencies in their conduct and holding them accountable when they misbehave; and ensuring citizens’ fundamental human and democratic rights will no doubt overwhelm the administration.

Welcome to the daunting task of balancing, if not bargaining, between citizens’ rights and collective security, says gossip.

PUBLISHED ON May 18,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 994]

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