The last executive committee meeting of the EPRDF...

Jan 15 , 2020

The last executive committee meeting of the EPRDF, as it has been known for the past three decades, was held over the weekend in Addis Abeba. It is a turning point event, claims gossip. The founding political force of the EPRDFites, the TPLF, will part ways with the other three that it was instrumental in helping to establish as part of a drive to oust the military junta of Mengistu Hailemariam (Col.), leader of the Dergue. The coalition that has been mobilised under the Leninist Revolutionary Democratic platform has now crumbled, according to gossip.

Abiy Ahmed (PhD), whose rise to power ought to be owed to the EPRDF vehicle, is determined to transform or obliterate the Front - depending on who is talking. He is now on steroid speed to carve out a new party out of the debris of the EPRDF.

Whether coerced or co-opted, the three parties in the coalition have leaders signed up to his new formation whose name was yet to be decided from the four proposed, claims gossip. Of these, the Prosperity Party (PP) (minus the prefix Ethiopia) is the most he is passionate about over the closest contender, the Democratic Party (DP), gossip disclosed. Whichever the name to be picked up, the bylaws and political programme of the new party has been completed, adopting a rather liberal orientation in contrast to the centre-left background of its predecessor, says gossip. It is a "big tent politics" aspiring to appeal to the growing urban middle class, claims gossip.

The TPLFites who have attended the weekend meeting were adamant not to buy into this ethos, thus would register their protest in the strongest terms possible before they say adieu to the PP or DP, gossip says. The guys from ADP have the most to cheer over this move, for they have been plotting the purging of the TPLF from the new party for months, claims gossip.

The late Meles Zenawi had to rely on the loyalties of their predecessors in the ANDM in his bid to oust his foes in the TPLF right after the war with Eritrea. In a manner hardly different, Abiy now depends on the ADP to push forward with his drive to amalgamate the other three parties in the incumbent in more ways than he could rely on his party, the ODP, gossip claims. While the ADP's political bureau and central committee were the first to rush to endorse the merger, the strongest resistance to Abiy came from his backyard; ODP's highest political organs were the last to give him their divided nod, even after the SEPDM under the chair of Muferiat Kamil did.

The TPLFites appear to have followed a two-pronged strategy in response to their political nemesis, according to gossip. They came to the meeting not only to reject the decision to the merger. They tried to challenge the process Abiy and allies have followed as non-procedural, thus unlawful, for the dissolution of each party, and the EPRDF should be endorsed by their respective congresses, says gossip. Although Abiy's camp does not deny the merit of such an argument, it fired back invoking a mandate the EPRDF Executive Committee had received from the congress of the EPRDF held in Hawassa last year, according to gossip. The TPLFites - eight of the political bureau members - were outvoted on this agenda. Similarly, they would lose the vote on the timeliness of the merger; only consent to the merger would allow them to proceed to the third agenda of discussion on the by-laws and the party`s program. They have reached a point of no return over the weekend, gossip.

Though the merger of the three was inevitable despite opposition from the TPLF, the latter is forming a new coalition by mobilising what its leaders determine are federalist forces, says gossip. They had assembled representatives of close to 39 political parties a couple of months ago in Meqelle to explore the possibilities of a new alliance. The completion of a new manifesto and a by-law for the formation of a new political front was followed, which will likely bear the name of "constitutionalist" or "federalist" in its acronym, gossip disclosed.

Late last week, an array of opposition personalities viewed mainly by the public as subdued - such as Tolosa Tesfaye, Mesafint Shiferaw, Ayele Chamiso and Tigistu Awelu - have convened in Meqelle to sign up for the new federalist formation, gossip disclosed. TPLFites are expecting more to join this coalition, such as heavyweight politicians like Bekele Gerba and those from the OLF, the latter formally registered by the electoral board last week, claims gossip.

With the TPLFites outside of the big tent politics, and with the minority position in federal institutions but a governing party in one of the historically determinant region's, Ethiopia`s federalism is on the cusp of an acid test. Thus, a showdown along the road is imminent, gossip foresees.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 15,2020 [ VOL 20 , NO 1029]

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