Political estrangement has dawned in the house of the EPRDFites...

May 4 , 2019

Political estrangement has dawned in the house of the EPRDFites: increasingly, their leaders are at odds with their rank and file, gossip observed.

Muferiat Kamil, chairwoman of the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SPEDM), the youngest in the coalition of four under the EPRDF, is dealing with a full-blown rebellion within the party. No less than seven of the zones under the regional administration are calling for the status of a state for their respective constituencies. The largest of these, the Sidama Zone, has been spearheading this drive, causing considerable anxiety over further political fragmentation.

Ambachew Mekonnen (PhD), head of the Amhara Regional State as well as deputy chairman of the Amhara Democratic Party (ADP), is now confronted by an aggressive demand from his constituency for his resignation. He was elected to preside over the regional state only recently, propelled by the viral protests in the region that saw the previous leadership feeble in asserting ADP’s place within the ruling coalition, claims gossip.

The ruling coalition had its council meeting back in April. The highest decision-making body of 180 who convene twice a year. It is this body with the mandate of installing the chairperson of the Front, who traditionally ends up becoming Prime Minister.

The communiqué the Council released upon the conclusion of its meeting comprises phrases that gossip sees as unorthodox to the EPRDFites. It endorsed a minute summarising broader issues discussed on the state of the nation.

Nonetheless, perhaps for the first time in the Front’s 30-year history, the minute passed without winning a consensus, but “with a majority vote” in its favour, as the communiqué stated. It reveals that EPRDF’s ironclad political culture of democratic centralism has moved beyond redemption, claims gossip.

Neither was the meeting business as usual, where consensus on agendas designed by the Executive Committee was reached within the respective parties long before the Council members meet. Traditionally, the Council was a venue for validation to whatever the party bigwigs and ideologues cared to shove down the throats of the broader public.

The recent meeting in Addis Abeba was a political battleground between the Chairman, Abiy Ahmed (PhD), and many of the TPLFites, who had demonstrated their calibre with clarity, purpose and organisation, gossip disclosed. They confronted him on the issues of the rationale for creating a border commission, his alleged haste to amalgamate the Front into a united national party and his ambiguity over the schedule for the next national elections, revealed gossip.

Although Abiy had shown impressive footwork in responding to these, the most daunting to him was the challenge over the issue of the absence of the rule of law in the country, claims gossip. Despite Abiy’s posturing to push the criticism back at his interlocutors, blaming elements in the TPLF as the forces destabilising his administration, there appeared a broader consensus among many Council members that unless the state reasserted itself more forcefully, the Ethiopian state could be lost, gossip revealed.

The minute came out admitting that firm measures should be taken in ensuring the rule of law. But on issues of national elections and unifying the Front, further studies should be carried out. About 30 members, representing 17pc of the Council, voted against the minute, gossip disclosed. While only one from SEPDM was included in this list, 29 of the 45 were from the TPLF, including the most vocal voices such as Alem Gebrewahid, its secretary general, and Kindeya Gebrehiwot (Prof), revealed gossip. Getachew Reda, another TPLFite who is critical of Abiy’s administration, was not in attendance, according to gossip.

However, Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), chairman of the TPLF, reportedly voted in favour of the minute, demonstrating his estrangement within his own party, claims gossip. He is hardly alone in such estrangement though. Troubles are brewing within the leadership of ODP, for the rank and file see their leader, Abiy, riding on the pan-Ethiopian nationalism horse, claims gossip.

PUBLISHED ON May 04,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 992]

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