On Monday comes a day of reckoning for the Revolutionary Democrats…

On Monday comes a day of reckoning for the Revolutionary Democrats, gossip says. They may have had a couple of such moments in their history of nearly 30 years. But none could parallel the kind of fragmentation and paralysis in leadership they have been going through over the past five years.

It may have come to a boiling point now, while the Front is to pick its third chairperson, replacing Hailemariam Desalegn, who has claimed a footnote in the party`s history for resigning on his own terms.

The much-anticipated outcome from a series of leadership meetings – first by the central committees of each party in the coalition, then by the Executive Committee of the ruling EPRDF and currently by the Council of the latter – will wind up tomorrow, if not today, March 25, 2018. Its members will have to confront a choice between conducting an election to select their chairperson or decide to continue – up until the next congress called for August – with their deputy, Demeke Mekonnen, installed as acting, claims gossip.

Both options have their political ramifications, depending on who stands on what side, says gossip. Many council members would like to see fresh election takes place as many of those who would want to keep the status quo for a while, according to gossip. The apparent polarisation in the party has forced them to hold onto the issue without a decision thus far, claims gossip.

It has been over fives days since the Council`s meeting began. Yet, to date it has been two of the three agendas that have been discussed: reports both from the leadership of each party in the coalition and the Executive Committee of the Front were tabled. At some point, a report submitted by the OPDO`s leadership had to be revised for some of the Council members had argued it watered down the intensity and the spirit of the discussion held at its Central Committee level, gossip disclosed.

The second agenda debated was the state of affairs of the nation, including a dozen of reports submitted by chairs of several committees installed six months ago to follow on sectoral reforms, gossip revealed. Close to 12 in numbers, these are committees under the leadership of people such as Girma Birru, Arkebe Oqubay (PhD), Abay Tsehaye, Bereket Simon and Abadula Gemeda; they are tasked to ensure various sectors in the economic and administrative fronts are reformed to the satisfaction of the EPRDFites, gossip disclosed.

So was the resignation request by Hailemariam tabled for the Council`s discussion, revealed gossip. Although his resignation has been accepted, without much noise and resistance, Hailemariam nonetheless has continued to chair the meeting, alongside his deputy, Demeke.

The moment they all have dreaded seems to have arrived, claims gossip.

Deciding to keep the status quo under an acting chairperson and prime minister could buy the Revolutionary Democrats time to consolidate power to one side, according to gossip. They know politics is seasonal and so much will change in the four months to the next Congress, says gossip.

Nonetheless, going to vote to elect their chairperson may put some of them up to unpleasant outcomes, claims gossip. The first fight though would be held at the stage of nomination where each candidate should gain the support of one-third of Council members. It would be done in the full view of the Council, with members raising their hands up in public.

Should this be held along party preferences, the TPLFites would have only 39 members in the Council, for six of their politburo and central committee members have been suspended. They would have to call their congress to replace them, but too short a time to do that for the week, claims gossip.

But it is unlikely in the current polarised political environment to expect Council members to vote along partisan lines, claims gossip. Not all of the ANDM members are expected to vote for their candidate Demeke, while more than a handful of OPDO`s will do likewise in denying support for Abiy Ahmed (PhD), and as many SEPDM`s members are unlikely to vote for Shiferaw Shigutie, gossip foresees.

Close to 176 members will cast their votes in a secret ballot for those who will make it to the candidacy; it will be the fight over the nomination that will shape the outcome of this process, claims gossip. The rest is up for a surprise no one can anticipate.

Published on Mar 24,2018 [ Vol 18 ,No 934]



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