In the House of the Revolutionary Democrats, comrades neither retire nor resign…

In the House of the Revolutionary Democrats, comrades neither retire nor resign; they are assigned to whatever role the Party deems fit and dispatched to wherever it is decided useful, gossip heard. If those at the gossip corridors are sceptical that last week’s news that Muktar Kedir and Aster Mamo, chair and deputy chair of the OPDO, resigned of their own free will, it stems from the traditions within the Party.

These two leaders have made unprecedented moves to relinquish powerful party positions, whether they did indeed “resign” or were rather “pushed out of the door”, claims gossip. Nonetheless, what transpired in the OPDO’s power echelons last week was a sort of leadership coup d’etat on those known to be diehards of the “Meles Legacy”, claims gossip.

The way in which both Muktar and Aster have ascended to power had been an issue of contention within the ranks of the OPDO, gossip recalled. Back in 2010, the OPDO’s Central Committee members had to yield to the late Meles Zenawi’s pressure to change their election of Abadula Gemeda as chair of the Party, gossip recalled. While the majority had voted the late Alemayehu Atomsa to the chairmanship a week later, it was Lemma Megersa and Worqneh Gebeyehu (PhD), very close pals, who were among the very few to show defiance by sticking to their original votes made to Abadula, gossip disclosed.

The sudden death of Alemayehu paved the way for Muktar and Aster’s claims to the helm, but both had continued to be viewed as an imposition by senior partners in the EPRDF and not as the reflection of the genuine desires of the wider cadres, claims gossip. Thus, last week’s OPDO meeting focused on two seemingly separate but interrelated agendas: the balance-sheet of the OPDO’s conduct over the years and the extent of its autonomous existence from the perceived influence and alleged interventions of the TPLF, gossip disclosed.

On both counts, members of the Central Committee agreed that both leaders have failed their organisations, revealed gossip. But nothing has angered the majority of these members, and led to the eventual resignations of these leaders, more so than a rumour circulated in the midst of heightened debate that three veteran EPRDFites from the other parties had offered to “extend their helping hands”, gossip revealed. The majority of the cadres became irritated because they viewed it as a blatant act of intervention in the autonomous affairs of the OPDO, says gossip.

The two new leaders owe their grooming and promotion to power to Abadula, according to gossip. As young cadres, they were first elected to the Central Committee back in 2003, in the case of Lemma, and three years later for Worqneh.

Both had their debuts in security and law enforcement offices in both regional and federal agencies, before Lemma was elected to serve as Speaker of the Regional Council and Worqneh became Minister of Transport. The latter is known to have a tense working relationship with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, and was observed to have uttered no words during the recently held council meeting of the EPRDF, gossip disclosed.

Now, their tenure in the OPDO leadership is to be measured largely by how much they can enable the organisation to claim autonomy in exercising power in the region and maintain harmony with its coalition partners at the national level, claims gossip.

The jury is out for the duo to persuade their constituencies that the OPDO can overcome its historical baggage in being perceived as a proxy to the TPLF; and that it can be accepted as an authentic and genuine party that works in the best interests of the region, says gossip.

In doing so, the OPDO cadres have set the rules clear to them, gossip disclosed. They should only have engagement in OPDO’s role as a coalition member of the ruling party based on “struggle and cooperation”, says gossip.

Published on Sep 28,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 856]



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