CHARM OFFENSIVE




Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) has continued to charm the nation, addressing the public from east to west to north, last week. His latest appearance was in Meqelle, the capital of the Tigray Regional State, where thousands of people showed up at the airport to welcome him on Friday, April 13, 2018. It was one piece of the bigger picture, where he is touring the nation in an attempt to reassure communities that change is on the way.

However, he pleads for more time as he alluded in his address in the town of Ambo, 120Km west of Addis Abeba. The epicentre of protests in the west, where the popular uprising began three years ago, tens of thousands of residents in the town were seen packing the town`s stadium early last week. Accompanied by his staunch political ally, Lemma Megerssa, president of the Oromia Regional State, and Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, the town of 250,000 people was Abiy`s second stop after he was sworn in as the Prime Minister on April 2, 2018. His first sojourn was in Jigjiga, the seat of the Somali Regional State.

Prime Minister Abiy is scheduled to address members of the private sector on Monday at the Sheraton Addis, according to officials from the Government Communications Affairs Office (GCAO). Some of the private sector leaders have heard him speak to religious leaders, the civil society and opposition leaders as well as prominent personalities during the state dinner.

The Prime Minister echoed his core messages that were mentioned during his inaugural speech before parliament, two weeks ago. In all his addresses, a common theme emerges; his public apology to victims of political violence; acknowledgement of the struggles of opposition leaders and activists; a pledge to broaden the political space; and to urge for constitutionalism and democratic order.

“Our action failed to match our policies and rhetorics,” Abiy told a crowd of nearly 300 who were invited to the Jubilee Palace on Thursday.

He was pointing out the public frustration that was caused by the gap between promises in the constitution and the practice by the EPRDF administration.

“No one has a monopoly over truth and conviction,” said Abiy. “We should be judged in the marketplace of ideas.”

To the delight of his audience gathered in Martyrs` Hall, in Meqelle, Abiy declared, “Ethiopia is larger than the EPRDF”, and not everything should be scaled on an identical political worldview.

The Prime Minister challenged the political opposition to leave the politics of rhetoric, polemics and warned the price to the nation of zero-sum politics. But he also offered an olive branch to opposition groups here and abroad, for peaceful dialogue and negotiations.



Published on Apr 15,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 937]


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