During one of his North American tours, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed …

During one of his North American tours, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) was asked whether the ruling coalition, the EPRDF, is weakening as a result of inter-party infighting among its leaders. His prompt answer was negating the premise of the question and affirming that the EPRDF has never been stronger in its existence as it is now.

Yet, the health of the ruling party will be evident very soon when it holds its long-awaited and often postponed convention, planned for the first week of September 2018, in Hawassa, says gossip. Prior to this though, each member party of the coalition should hold its respective congress, most likely during the last week of August, gossip disclosed.

These congresses will not be held in a business as usual manner, gossip foresees. The days when the EPRDF Secretariat, with direct supervision from the chairman, prepares documents to get translated into the different working languages of the coalition members for deliberations, appears to have gone, claims gossip. There is hardly any centrality to the party, following the loss of its culture in democratic centralism, claims gossip.

Finding themselves in a divergent course, each party will likely have rather animated and tense discussions on several issues of the time, says gossip. The political battleground to control the leadership and their respective central committees will get to its pick, many of them being in a populist contest to leverage on popular supports, claims gossip.

The conclusions of these congresses will have to lead to the convention by the ruling, whose composition of membership in its council will be different, gossip anticipates. It is the 180-member council that has the mandate to re-elect the chairperson, thus the Prime Minister. Nonetheless, the coalition member in the south, the Southern Ethiopian Peoples` Democratic Movement, which is expected to host the convention, finds itself in disarray, putting a shadow of a doubt on whether the EPRDF convention can be held according to its schedule, gossip disclosed.

Inter-ethnic violent conflict in the south led to the sudden resignations of the chairman, Shuferaw Shigutie; his deputy, Siraj Fegessa; and the region`s President, Dessie Dalkie. The first two had not served even a year in their respective positions, since they were elected following the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn, former chairman of the EPRDF, in April 2018.

Neither does Muferiat Kemil, the current chairwoman of the Southern People Party and also the speaker of Parliament, appear to have the permissive environment to stay for long, claims gossip. The demand to be elevated to a regional state by the Sidama Zone – where the current President of the regional state, Million Mathias, comes from – has put additional pressure on her after politicians of other zones in the region show strong inclinations to leave the Southern People Party, gossip revealed.

Muferiat rose to power in the party by contesting against Redawn Hussien, now appointed as an ambassador to Eritrea, and Teklewold Atnafu, former central bank governor, receiving only one more vote, gossip recalled. She had won 18 votes of the central committee members, making it likely for them to prevail should there be another election soon, gossip claims.

The possible meltdown in the south will make it verify difficult for the EPRDF Secretariat to proceed with the planned convention, although preparations are well underway and hotels are already booked, disclosed gossip. However, the longer it takes to convene the executive committee meeting of the EPRDF, and its convention, the broader and deeper problems are festering in relationships between the federal government, the regional states and the regions, gossip claims.

Already, there are worrying signs of regional states beefing up their respective militia forces with renewed mobilisations and training, gossip disclosed. In an environment where the political goodwill between the coalition members is thinning, such developments do not ring well with the well-being of the whole nation, claims gossip. The toughest days could yet to come, gossip foresees.

Published on Aug 04,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 953]



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