Last week would pass as the most consequential in Ethiopia…

Last week would pass as the most consequential time in Ethiopia`s political history since the mid-1970s right before the deposition of Emperor Hailesellasie`s government. So much happened within a few days; from the release of prisoners to the resignation of the Prime Minister and the reinstatement of a state of emergency. Gossip foresees many dramatic turns of political events are in store in the coming weeks as witnessed in the past couple of weeks.

A series of public discontents – in large part defined by violence, mayhem, destruction, and regrettable loss of lives – made the EPRDF government find itself back to square one, gossip noted. Late on Friday night, many of its ministers have agreed to reinstate a state of emergency for six-month, but with all likelihood extended to remain in place for as long as two years, gossip disclosed. Only last year, the first state of emergency under the EPRDF rule was declared, to be lifted after one extension and 10-month period, in August 2017.

But unlike widespread perception, the current decree was not a blot from the blue, gossip said. During the recent Executive Committee meeting of the EPRDF, the issue of reinstating the emergency decree was raised, with a backdrop of violent protests in some parts of the country, including the horrific development of series of attacks on civilians targeted on the basis of their ethnic identities, claims gossip.

The desperation to bring back the state of the emergency regime was agreed by many of the Executive Committee members who felt that the ruling party and its political operatives were complacent due to a sense of calm during the state of emergency last year, hence squandered the opportunity to do political works, according to gossip. Nonetheless, leaders of the OPDO, a constituent member of the ruling coalition, had argued for time – varying from a couple of weeks to two months depending who talks about it at the gossip corridors – hoping to arrest the violence and keep their region calm and stable, disclosed gossip.

One of the two agendas Chairman of the EPRDF, Hailemariam Desalegn, had tabled last week to the emergency meeting of the Executive Committee was the reinstatement of the emergency decree, gossip revealed. He also tendered his resignation from the party`s chairmanship, and from the office of the Prime Minister, eventually.

Tabled it for the party`s top leadership, but without the need to debate on the merit of the reinstatement of the decree, claims gossip. It was a political fait accompli, dictated by alarming developments on the ground, claims gossip.

But, if there was a point of contention over the decree, it was the demand by some of the heads of the regional state to have the power to command security forces operating in their respective regions, alongside the Commander-in-Chief and the Chief of Staff of the army, gossip disclosed. Worried that such a move would upset the command and control procedure of the security forces, the Executive Committee had rejected the idea, resorting to the decision of streamlining all security forces, whether federal or regional, under the command of the Prime Minister, revealed gossip.

The most important significance of the state of emergency decree is to give the legal right to federal security and military forces, to override regional authorities in their interventions in places of security breakdown, according to gossip. But the task of working out the details of the state of emergency was left to the Council of Ministers; and, members had met a day after the emergency meeting of the EPRDF`s Executive Committee.

The same night, the emergency law was decreed, after taking the whole afternoon to work out both the emergency law and operational regulation all at the same time, gossip disclosed. The jury is still out if the political leadership will have the wisdom and unity of action to take advantage of the momentary calm to save the nation from the brink of collapse, or take it to a more consequential path, says gossip. Whichever way though, a new Prime Minister and down the road a new Chief of Staff will have to grabble with the most trying times of Ethiopia in decades, claims gossip.

Published on Feb 18,2018 [ Vol 18 ,No 930]



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