More worrying to Abiy may come from his own backyard

Sep 28 , 2019

Abiy Ahmed (PhD), prime minister of Ethiopia elected under the EPRDF's platform, is doing everything he can to undo the very vehicle that propelled him to political power. He has been busy rewriting a new programme hoping to replace the Leninist mantra of Revolutionary Democracy the EPRDF followed since its formation 30 years ago.

For an administration under criticism for lacking an unambiguous road map and coherent centre to govern, Abiy is trying to make advances in introducing his political and economic policy thoughts. Suffice the new economic reform package his advisors baptised as “homegrown.” Lauded by members of the international community as “ambitious but doable”, the blueprint to jumpstart the economy from its slumber has met not as much intellectual challenge from the domestic constituency as it was originally feared, says gossip.

Abiy is now in full gear pushing for the introduction of his political thoughts he loves to call “Me`demer," an Amharic word translated as “positive-sum.” Gossip recalls that Abiy's fascination with the concept the word represents is not new. He has been on the record while contemplating the idea of synergy in social constructs a couple of years before his ascent to political power a year and a half ago.

His holding state power and everything that comes with it - if not leverages and resources - has brought an imminent significance to what goes on in his mind. Abiy believes Me`demer is neither an ideology nor a philosophy but something in between - a “thought”, perhaps.

Nonetheless, such is a thought that needs to evolve in its theoretical and conceptual underpinning, before it is marketed to the broader public, claims gossip. Abiy does not seem to be in short supply of intellectuals near and afar to help him give flesh to the bones of Me`demer, gossip observed. Workshops, seminars and orientations are underway aiming to instill the concept - cooperation where there is competition - in its political, economic, diplomatic and security applications, according to gossip.

A couple of weeks ago, senior ministers from his cabinet gathered in the town of Adama (Nazareth) to go through the indoctrination process. A series of retreats at the Kuriftu Lodge, in Bishoftu (Debrezeit), began two weeks ago, according to gossip. Select groups of people believed to influence society get invited to these sessions where the Prime Minister gives the closing sermon, gossip says.

A book authored by the Prime Minister on the subject has been published and close to a million copies will soon be distributed, gossip claims.

All this could be an attempt to fill the ideological vacuum created by the rejection by some in the ruling coalition of the Revolutionary Democracy mantra, says gossip. The effort to merge the EPRDF into a national party may incorporate the rewriting of the programme to embrace the thoughts of Me`demer. But it appears that such political manoeuvering hardly passes without a challenge from within, according to gossip.

The senior partner in the Front, the TPLF, has already made its position clear. It communicated to the Chairman its resolve not to join the party that will merge, in no uncertain terms, gossip says. It is highly unlikely its leaders will accept an outcome of a merger as legitimate if it fails to follow procedures where each party's political bureau, central committee and congress first endorses the decision to merge, gossip claims. In the event Abiy pushes it in the absence of meeting these procedures, they may consider it as a formation of a different and new party with hardly any claim to the legacy of the EPRDF, says gossip.

More worrying to Abiy may come from his own backyard, claims gossip. His deputy in the ODP, and once staunch political ally, Lemma Megerssa is vocal in opposing the direction Abiy is taking, gossip claims. He was in Adama a couple of weeks ago, defending his position against the merger before members of ODP's senior cadres, gossip reveals. Time will show the degree of support Lemma can have in the leadership and rank and file of the ODP, says gossip.

However, the EPRDF has called members of its Executive Committee to a meeting in the first week of October. If held as planned, gossip foresees, it will be one of the turning points in the ongoing political logjam.

PUBLISHED ON Sep 28,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1013]

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