Seated between bigwigs of the ruling Prosperity Party (PP) and regional presidents such as Adem Farah (left-centre), Yilikal Kefale (PhD) (right-centre) and Ristu Yirda (right), Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) chats with members of the party he chairs as they sat for their first congress since the party's registration two years ago. It evolved from the debris of the now-defunct EPRDF, a coalition of four that had ruled Ethiopia since 1991. Prosperity Party's maiden convention was attended by 1,600 delegates and guests, including representatives from ruling parties of Djibouti, China, Russia and Turkey. Opened on March 11, 2022, in Addis Abeba, it was overwhelmed by speeches, performances and a documentary on post-revolution Ethiopia.

The last time a ruling party held a party congress was in October 2018, when EPRDF members convened in the southern city of Hawassa. Like now, the party chairperson was Abiy, a mere half a year into his premiership. He sat in the front row and a few seats away from Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), chairperson of the TPLF, a striking reminder of how much politics has changed in the last few years. The slogan the congress adopted read, “From Adversity to Prevailing,” reflecting upon the brief years since the party came into existence after the dissolution of the EPRDF. The security situation in the country, nation-building and economic upheaval consumed the congress agenda. The mood was as if the ruling party has already reached the ‘prevailing’ part of its slogan. The belated convention is an inaugural congress since the Prosperity Party was formed in 2019 after the three constituent and allied parties of the EPRDF were merged. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the senior and previously the most dominant member of the EPRDF, chose to part ways. This politically fateful moment led to bitter contestations for power, climaxing in a civil war.

PUBLISHED ON Mar 12,2022 [ VOL 22 , NO 1141]

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