Lencho Leta and Company in Addis Abeba…

Who would have thought a few months back Lencho Leta and company would be received in Addis Abeba with official pampering when they arrived at the Bole International Airport?

Last week, the administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) made that point, sending its chief security advisor, Abadulla Gemeda, to greet them at the VIP Lounge and a Palace Motorcade which transported them to the various offices they went to on the same day. The scene was a sharp contrast to Lencho`s unanticipated arrival in Addis Abeba three years ago; he was compelled to return rather unceremoniously, gossip recalled.

Ever since his departure from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), of which he is a founding member, Lencho and his comrades at the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) have been in talks with Ethiopia`s political and security establishment, claims gossip. Often, there had been moments where deals were about to be had, if it was not for two outstanding issues, gossip disclosed.

The ODF leadership, whose organisation was founded in 2013, were in demand of government guarantee for their safety and security while travelling inside Ethiopia to meet their constituencies, claims gossip. It is a demand well responded to by the administration of former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, over the one in which ODF had wanted to enter the country as an organisation, gossip disclosed.

The administration had insisted that ODF leaders observe the electoral laws of the country that would require them to register with the National Electoral Board, after collecting founding petitions from their supporters and prospective members, claims gossip. Although reluctant to comply to this at the beginning, their attempt to return was an issue long resisted by the OPDO leadership than any of the other coalition members in the EPRDF, claims gossip.

With the change of guard at the top leadership of the OPDO and subsequently the EPRDF, the trio of OPDO – Abiy Ahmed, Lemma Megersa and Worqneh Gebeyehu (PhD) – has turned the table around welcoming dissident groups operating overseas to return. The first to respond in kind was the ODF leadership, thus their presence in the capital beginning last week.

A team of five, including the deputy chairman of the ODF, Dima Negewo (PhD), have arrived on Wednesday, May 23, 2018, for a schedule initially set for three days. Joined in receiving them at the airport by Ahmed Shidie, the new minister for Government Communications Affairs Office, Abadulla took ODF`s team to see Worqneh, minister of Foreign Affairs, according to gossip. He was reportedly courteous, if not a little carried away in explaining how excited and optimistic he is on the current change in the political climate and its potential for competitive politics, disclosed gossip.

A second destination for the team was a visit to Getachew Assefa, director of the National Intelligence & Security Agency, revealed gossip.

Their final call was an audience with Prime Minister Abiy, whose ascendance to political power has prompted their visit. The Prime Minister talked about the need for lawful and peaceful competition in electoral politics and sought their engagement in it, claims gossip. In their honour, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has had dinner at the Sheraton on Friday, where Worqneh, Abadulla, Getachew and Girma Birru, former Ethiopia’s ambassador to the US, were present, gossip disclosed.

Booked to return on Friday, however, Lencho and company have extended their stay for two weeks, perhaps a decision dictated by the enthusiasm of their presence on the ground, gossip revealed.

Published on May 31,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 944]



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