Leaders of the parties in the ruling coalition are playing chicken...

Nov 2 , 2019

Abiy Ahmed (PhD), chairman of the ruling coalition, is determined to go full speed ahead in forming a unified party out of the ashes of what has been the EPRDF. Persuading or co-opting - depending on who sees it - regional political elites who are leading the parties in the ruling coalition so that they give concessions has been his primary occupation over the past few months, gossip observed.

It appears that he has not been disappointed when it comes to the regional elites in the south, gossip disclosed. The political bureau and central committee of the SEPDM, chaired by Muferiat Kamil, have brought a significant gain to the merger camp, revealed gossip.

After a  series of meetings last week, both entities of the Movement have decided to dissolve their party and fall into the fold of the newly emerging national party under the leadership of Abiy, claims gossip. Abiy was so pleased, he had invited leaders of SEPDM over to the renovated Menelik II Palace up at Arat Kilo for dinner to show his gratitude and gave them a tour of Unity Park, gossip disclosed.

It is the second of the four parties in the ruling coalition to have brought news that pleases Abiy. A couple of months ago, leaders of the Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) reached a similar decision in favour of a merger; both parties now need to take the case to their respective conventions by party delegates, says gossip.

Abiy is halfway through in this though, claims gossip.

The push for the merger has been rejected by leaders of the TPLF, a senior member of the coalition when it was formed 30 years ago. They believe there is no longer unity of purpose and action in the EPRDF to remain as a Front, let alone pursue the merger, according to gossip.

Many of them believe the top leadership of the EPRDF - that is Abiy and his deputy, Demeke Mekonnen - have committed betrayal on the Revolutionary Democratic conviction of the Front, while the TPLFites remain true to its ideals, claims gossip. They see the merger in the making represents not a rearrangement of the organisational structure of the EPRDF, but that it is also compounded with a significant departure toward a different dispensation but without first having the ideological battles within, says gossip.

What better characterises the response from Abiy and company to this is one of “good riddance,” gossip observed. If the TPLF wants to part ways from the other three, Abiy will likely co-opt other politicians and political parties from the Tigray region to become members of the newly emerging party, gossip anticipates. Names such as Aregawi Berhe, a former military leader of the TPLF, and Abraha Desta, a university lecturer chairing an opposition party, Arena, are flying around as prospective members of the national party in the making, gossip claims.

However, Abiy is not out of the woods yet, according to gossip.

What is considered as the other “three” are yet to meet the number, after a political rebellion Abiy faced from his own backyard, claims gossip. Failing to get explicit consensus at the political bureau level of the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), the disagreement at the central committee was significant, gossip disclosed.

The resistance to the proposed merger is different from what has been argued by the TPLF in that the ruling coalition has moved on from the Revolutionary Democratic programme over the past two decades, gossip disclosed. Nonetheless, the political dissidents within the ODP argue that it would be much harder to address the demands of their political base after dissipating into a national party, gossip revealed. The resistance was so overpowering, Abiy had resorted to not put the debate up for vote, and instead let the issue carry on to another meeting round, gossip disclosed.

In a week or two, the Executive Committee meeting of the EPRDF will be convened; it is clear that leaders of the parties in the ruling coalition are playing chicken, claims gossip.

PUBLISHED ON Nov 02,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1018]

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