Homage to China

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has paid homage to China, immediately after his position as chairman of the EPRDF was cemented and his place in the governing party left unambiguous.

This was not the case with his deputy, Demeke Mekonnen, chairman of the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), whose election to the second spot in the EPRDF was nearly lost when the ballots were counted in Meqelle two weeks ago, gossip disclosed. Muktar Kedir, chairman of the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic (OPDO), had missed the deputy chairmanship position in a way which prompted those at the gossip corridors to evoke the election loss of Arkebe Oqubay (PhD) to Meles Zenawi of the TPLF chairmanship few years ago.

Now that Hailemariam has established his full and uncontested mandate as head of the Revolutionary Democrats, the next parliament where they and their allies control 100pc will have to reinstall him as Prime Minister for the succeeding five years, gossip foresees. Although there is no law which prohibits the governing party from picking someone other than the chairman of the party with majority seats in Parliament, such movement is most unlikely and against the tradition of the EPRDFites, claims gossip. If anything else, the Revolutionary Democrats are often averse to the idea of creating more than one power centre in their rule, gossip claims.

Hailemariam’s first priority was therefore to show the Chinese, who bankroll several of Ethiopia’s infrastructure projects, how valuable they are to his rule, according to gossip. He led a rather large delegation to China last week, where two of the three closest confidants – Arkebe and Seyoum Mesfin – were on board, gossip disclosed. For obvious reason, Abadule Gemeda, speaker of the outgoing Parliament, remains as his staunch political ally, gossip claims.

The visit to China, particularly the high level meeting in Beijing, was deemed successful in the eyes of those at the gossip corridor. The Prime Minister was lucky in inking a deal for a loan worth 1.4 billion dollars, meant mostly to pay for the nation’s railway network construction.

Hailemariam may not be an orator but he is adjudicated to be a politician who is focused and to the point, according to gossip. That is a rarity among the majority of the Revolutionary Democrats who are currently at the helm of power, claims gossip. Ironically, his focus in Beijing was not matched by his aides and top lieutenants in the bureaucracy, who were seen faltering in selling the idea of Ethiopia as a preferred destination for Chinese foreign investments, including for manufacturing in the special economic operating zones, gossip says. They were judged to be little prepared to impress “even the Chinese.”

The dissatisfaction over the performance of his deputies in the investment and industrial bureaucracy is taken as a signal to the significant restructuring of his next cabinet and reshuffling of his ministers, gossip anticipates. Indeed, the politics within his administration is yet to begin, with the commencement of Parliament in October, claims gossip.

Little will those at the gossip corridor be surprised to see Aster Mamo of the OPDO rise to prominence in the federal structure, thanks to her new found alliance with Abadula, and distancing herself from Azeb Mesfin, widow of the late Prime Minister and archrival of Hailemariam within the EPRDF, claims gossip.

With the inevitable departure of Sufian Ahmed, the longest held office of the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development (MoFED), is open for take, although Girma Birru, the Prime Minister’s envoy to the United States, has declined the offer, gossip disclosed. So is a change expected in re-merging the ministries of Trade and Industry, perhaps to pave the way for the formation of a new ministry in charge of special economic operating zones, an impassioned project of Arkebe, despite continued formidable opposition of an ideological nature within the Revolutionary Democrats’ camp, gossip disclosed.

Published on Sep 14,2015 [ Vol 16 ,No 802]



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