The Office of the Prime Minister has...

Nov 27 , 2018

The Office of the Prime Minister has introduced the public to a new logo, bearing the architectural design of a building that was built under the Dergue. Circular in shape and with a pine background in colour, it appears that the White House inspired the picture, perhaps revealing the temptation by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) of feeling presidential.

Between him and his most likely presidential aspirations lies Ethiopia’s constitution, which has installed a parliamentary system of governance, claims gossip. Citizens do not vote for a leader but rather for the party nominees who contest the seats in the legislative houses; those parliamentarians then select a Prime Minister from among themselves.

Changing the constitutional provisions may not be an easy task, since each region, regardless of size and clout, has veto power. Nonetheless, this is only with the part where the constitution deals with issues of fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as the very provisions that refer to constitutional amendments.

The part that talks about the amendment of the state structure, where the powers and responsibilities of the president and the prime minister are defined, does not require that every region consent by majority vote. It is possible if a joint session of the federal legislative bodies and two-thirds of the regional states agree on a likely proposition for amendment.

It is not unheard of for countries to play around with their constitutions and swap the roles of a president and that of a prime minister. Recall Russia and Turkey?

Neither will it be insane to contemplate a possible constitutional amendment in Ethiopia so that there can be a hybrid of a parliamentary and presidential system of governance, claims gossip. Indeed, it may be one viable option to cure a polarised policy diverging with a growing regionalism if voters across the country are allowed to vote for someone as their president, while members of parliament and regional councils are elected through the parliamentary process, gossip says. A president voted into office by a majority across regional boundaries may serve as a symbol of unity to a divided nation, claims gossip.

In the meantime, a prime minister who fancies himself presidential is overseeing an extreme makeover of the Office of the Prime Minister that was established in the late 1980s. The ambience in the otherwise dull building gets illuminated while fitted with the most advanced and latest technological gadgets, gossip disclosed.

This makeover is followed by another significant renovation of the former residence of Mekonnen Hailesellasie (Prince), the Duke of Harar. Neighbouring the US Embassy on Entoto Street, the estate has been under restoration for the past four years and a presidential office has been added. Officials at the Palace Administration have planned for years to move the official residence of the president there. The idea was to transform the Jubilee Palace on Menelik II Avenue into a national museum.

There appears to be a change of plan here. Mulatu Teshome (PhD), pushed out of office a couple of weeks ago, was hastily relocated last week to a residence in the estate, gossip disclosed. It ought to be depressing for his family to land in a compound where water is in short supply and electricity is only provided from a generator, claims gossip.

Mulatu and family are unlikely to be the only residents in the estate, claims gossip. Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, whose state-provided house in Old Airport area was handed over to the former Patriarch of the Orthodox Church who returned from the US recently, will claim one of the villas in the estate, reveals gossip. As will the family of former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, which will reside in one of the newer villas, gossip disclosed.

PUBLISHED ON Nov 27,2018 [ VOL 19 , NO 970]

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