A brand new think-tank, re-christianized from its original…

A brand new think-tank, re-christianized from its original name to Centre for Research, Dialogue & Cooperation (CRDC), was launched last week. Its first appearance was marked by rather and refreshing discourses on foreign affairs matters, including whether the status quo with Eritrea can be substantiated. In the situation that it cannot be, a Norwegian sociologist with insights to both Eritrea and Ethiopia has enlightened his portly audience on the need for Ethiopia to make good use of its hegemonic status in the region to break the stalemate.

Foreign affairs policy gurus of past and present have graced the launching of the centre held inside Golden Tulip Hotel and established by none other than Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopia’s longest serving Foreign Minister, and now the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to China. Ironically, a noteworthy absence of this distingue audience discussing affairs of the nation’s foreign policy was Teodros Adhanom (PhD), the current Foreign Minister.

Beyond the discourse of the day, though, the launching of Seyoum’s Centre, bizarrely registered under the Ministry of Education, heralds the dawning of an epoch of the thinkers, gossip noted. It shows EPRDF veterans, upon retirement from active politicking, found a new vocation of joining existing think-tanks paid by taxpayers money or go at establishing their own hoping to get financed by non-state sources, claims gossip.

Seyoum is just one among several who have done so over the past couple of years, especially ever since EPRDFites have all felt the vacuum left by the passing of their ideological chief priest, the late Meles Zenawi, according to gossip.

Nonetheless, the pioneer in the nascent industry of thinking through hard policy options and choices is Newayab Gebreab, the longest serving chief economist in the administration, both under Meles and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who was present when CRDC was launched last week. His Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI) was the oldest think-tank legislated by Parliament, and partially funded by taxpayers’ money, and behind many of the macroeconomic policy decisions of the EPRDFites over the past two decades.

Another old-timer in the think-tank industry is the Ethiopian Foreign Relation Strategic Studies Institute, a legislated centre formerly known as the Ethiopian International for Peace & Development. Headquartered in a government building at the Mesqel Square, the Institute is now under the stewardship of Sebhat Nega, a titan of the EPRDF.

Lately, two giants of the Revolutionary Democratic camp, Abay Tsehaye and Bereket Simon, have established the think-factory with yet a legislated outfit, Policy Study & Research Centre (PSRC). The Centre, formed two years ago after the two retired from the politbureaus of their respective parties, and headquartered in a private building on Africa Avenue, currently pursues research in 17 areas. But its much talked about findings on lack of governance was introduced to the top face of the EPRDF last year, thus a televised discussion in the Prime Minister’s office was an intense topic of interest to the public, gossip recalled.

Another old hand of the EPRDF to join the think-factory is Teodros Hagos, head of the TPLF secretariat up until recently before his retreat from active politics. He is now appointed to head the Meles Zenawi Foundation, another legislated think-tank headquartered DAR Sahara St., in front of Mrs Ford Elementary School, in Kazanchise area. The Foundation desires to leave its marks on issues of leadership, hoping to be a premier centre in promoting the ideals of the late Meles.

Published on Apr 12,2016 [ Vol 16 ,No 832]



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