Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has had a series of public appearances lately, making seemingly unrelated remarks…

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has had a series of public appearances lately, making seemingly unrelated remarks. But they are revelations of the political paralysis deep at the heart of the ruling coalition he leads, gossip observed. Before Parliament, he has shown his courage owning responsibility for the crisis in the Oromia Regional State, hence apology for the loss of hundreds of lives. Such a sense of atonement is rare in politics, least of all in a governing party whose ideological foundation is in the left, claims gossip. It has not come without a rift in the camps of the Revolutionary Democrats, gossip disclosed. There is an element within the ruling coalition, which tends to resist the idea of claiming responsibility, rather preferring to continue externalizing the roots of the crisis to outside forces, claims gossip. Hailemariam wanted to dispel that in public, thereby opening the way for internal political infighting. He is in for a fight for power consolidation, gossip says.

Reminiscent of his predecessor, he decided to have what was hoped to be brutally frank conversation with members of the intelligentsia. Telling them his aspiration to see an open and pluralistic society with a competitive marketplace of ideas was tantamount to taking the political battlefield from the small and often secretive inner circle of the EPRDFites out to the public, claims gossip. It is as if he cried out to the public that the stake – infighting within the Front – is too high for the intelligentsia to remain aloof and stay on the sidelines. His narrative appears to be a precursor to justify what could be a possible purge of senior leaders of the ruling party accused of harbouring a “chauvinist” and “narrow” nationalism, which is seen as an off-shoot of corruption and abuse of political office, claims gossip.

Political rupture of a kind that will lead for second edition of “reform” in the camps of the Revolutionary Democrats appears to be imminent, gossip foresees. Largely, it will be prompted by the crisis within the OPDO, whose leadership is divided over the source and nature of the overwhelmingly persistent public protests in the region, claims gossip. The popular protests in the Oromia Region lingered so long and smeared enough that the fault lines it caused in the OPDO and in the EPRDF are becoming obvious even to casual observers.

There is the group under Muktar Kedir, chairman of the party and president of the regional state, alongside Aster Mamo, a politbureau member. It stands on the opposite side of the political aisle where the veteran Abadula Gemeda leads politicians such as Lemma Megerssa, speaker of the regional council, Workneh Gebeyehu, minister of Transport, and others, gossip revealed. The crack became visible during a high level meeting held couple of months ago in Adama, where the OPDO issued a 15-point resolution – voted against by the first two – and became unpopular among other EPRDFites in the Front, gossip disclosed.

While Muktar et al are criticized for their indecisiveness and hesitance, Abadula and allies are accused of giving in to populist demands articulated by their archrivals but undermining the Front’s cohesion, claims gossip. The good old Front, the EPRDF, appears to be losing its traditional vigour in functioning as a potent organ, largely due to pressure from its members demanding broader autonomy, claims gossip. Its Secretariat, now entrusted to Kebede Chane of ANDM, has never been as weak in imposing its will on the members of the coalition, gossip claims.

The survival of the Front as a functional party and other sensitive issues will emerge as political battleground soon when the EPRDF convenes its meeting of the council, comprising close to 180 delegates, gossip disclosed. There may be no political taboo in tabling issues; from the Front’s reinforcement to the extent of autonomy its members want to exercise and the purging of debauched and jacklegged leaders in its midst will be up for candid talks, claims gossip.

A paper is authored for distribution to members of the council on which debate is to be held, gossip disclosed. Whichever group prevails though, there will follow massive purges crossing national party lines in a way and proportion no less dramatic than what the party went through in the aftermath of the Ethiopia-Eritrean war, gossip anticipates. Neither will the political trauma be less walloping, claims gossip.


Published on Mar 21,2016 [ Vol 16 ,No 829]



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