In the nearly 20-year history of Ethiopia’s parliament …

In the nearly 20-year history of Ethiopia’s parliament, a show of defiance and public expression of dissent is a rare occurrence. That is except for the few opposition MPs who employed the legislative platform to bite on the most powerful incumbent.

A few times there was dissent from within when an MP from the Somali Democratic Peoples’ Party (SDPP), now ESPDP, had voted to abstain on a resolution to intervene in Somalia, in 2006. A widow of Abdulmejid Hussien (PhD), one of the founders of the party that allies with the ruling EPRDF, Aneb Abdulkadir’s vote was only second to a similar vote of abstention by Seyee Abraha, once a strongman of the TPLF.

Seyee had abstained from voting on another crucial legislative resolution of Ethiopia’s government accepting the Algier’s Agreement, signed later on in the capital of Algeria, to cease war and take the border dispute with Eritrea to an internationally installed court of arbitration.

Parliament recorded such moment of reckoning last week when Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn appeared before legislators to explain a motion on President Mulatu Teshome’s (PhD) address to the joint session of both chambers two weeks ago.

The legislative assembly held late last week was handled by the Deputy Speaker, Shitaye Menale (MP-ANDM), while the Speaker of the House, Abadula Gemeda (MP-OPDO), was not in attendance although he was in the country, gossip disclosed. It is perhaps because his request for resignation from his role as a Speaker remains pending.

Abadula has met Hailemariam twice since his announcement of resignation, while a high-level meeting by chairs of the parties in the ruling coalition, their deputies and secretaries decided two weeks ago to let him take his time to reconsider his decision, revealed gossip. The leadership of the ruling party wants him, somewhat emphatically, to stay on serving as a Speaker, disclosed gossip.

With the eventuality that Abadulla remains firm on his decision to resign, three MPs from the OPDO are under consideration, including Tesfaye Daba, chairman of the Defense & Foreign Affairs Committee; a female MP and another male MP with a PhD, whose names gossip failed to obtain.

Last week’s motion by the President was endorsed in near full consensus if it was not for an MP from OPDO, by the name Jibril, who represents a constituency in Western Hararge. He helped out parliament record yet another history of heresy from within, whose courage won him respect even from those in the Revolutionary Democratic camp, claims gossip. It was an act of defiance exposing a glimpse of political turmoil deep inside the EPRDFites, gossip observes.

It was evident last week that the country was sliding back to yet another popular discontent, where lives were lost, and properties were damaged in towns across the Oromia Regional State, such as Ambo, Guder, Burayu, Holleta and Zeway. Unlike before, where groups in the Diaspora claimed ownership of these revolts, the latest showdown between protestors and law enforcement agencies was devoid of owners who could spell out their demands, gossip noticed. Yet, name calling and trading of blames is abound within the ruling party culminating with a statement made by Hailemariam accusing groups within who are fighting over controls of contraband and khat trades as well as smuggling of forex.

Until recently, Hailemariam had managed to stay above the fray, only siding with the various fragmented and infighting groups depending on the issues they raise, and because his administration was preoccupied with, if not consumed by, larger crises in the rest of Horn of Africa, says gossip. Gossip claims it is an unviable position to hold on to for far too long, for the collateral damage from the fallout is getting too much to bear, claims gossip. But more importantly, one faction within the OPDO is intensifying its jab not only on the TPLF but also the military and the security establishments imputing their personnel for lives lost, gossip claims.

The ruling EPRDF has now called its executive committee members for a meeting yesterday, to talk about how to respond to the current security fallout within the Oromia region under the administration of the OPDO, gossip disclosed.

Ironically, for a keen observer of public statements recently made by Lemma Megersa, chairman of the OPDO and president of the Oromia Regional State; and Abiy Ahmed (PhD), its secretary and vice president, it is obvious that the two leaders are on a divergent path. It will be hardly surprising should there emerge a power struggle between factions within the core leadership of the OPDO, claims gossip.

Published on Oct 31,2017 [ Vol 18 ,No 914]



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