The delicate state of affairs in the Revolutionary Democratic camp…

The delicate state of affairs in the Revolutionary Democratic camp is becoming more obvious in the leadership`s indecisiveness to hold the series of meetings of the Front according to their regular schedule, according to gossip. Gossip also has it that realism dictates upon them to make postponements of the order of the day.

First was the date of the ruling party`s convention; it was moved from this month to sometime in July 2018. EPRDF bylaws require conventions to take place every two to two-and-half years. Although the leadership had decided to take the latter, it was still unable to make it in March 2018.

Then followed the meeting of the party`s Council comprising of 180 members; this was postponed from two weeks ago to an undecided date in the weeks to come. Moreover, the EPRDF`s most powerful body, the Executive Committee, was supposed to begin its meeting late last week after it was postponed from dates set earlier. It did not happen, for each party`s leadership in the coalition was too distracted by the parliamentary session on the state of emergency to finalize reports to be submitted to the Executive Committee, gossip disclosed.

It is yet to be decided when the Committee members will reconvene to debate the extent of the “renewal” each party has carried out during their respective central committee meetings, gossip says. Depending on the intensity of the political battle they will wage, the meeting could probably take over a week, putting on hold a subsequent meeting by the Council, gossip predicts. There appear to be too many moving parts in the ruling coalition, which will make the traditional three-day meetings a story of bygone days, gossip claims.

These meetings matter, for the EPRDFites find themselves in the extraordinary days of having a lame duck chairman after Hailemariam Desalegn tendered his resignation a couple of weeks ago. It is the Council members, comprising of 45 from each party in the coalition, who will have the final say of who will be elected as chairman of the ruling EPRDF and become the next Prime Minister of the country.

So much will be determined by what transpires at the Executive Committee meeting scheduled ahead, according to gossip. Traditionally, the Revolutionary Democrats build a consensus on this level regarding the chair and deputy chairpersons before they head to the Council meeting for final voting, where each nominee should be seconded by no less than 60 members before they are voted on through a secret ballot electoral process.

But these are not conventional times, says gossip. The growing cleavage within the Revolutionary Democrats is evidently illustrated by recent voting patterns in parliament, gossip reminds us. These patterns are unprecedented in the nearly two-decade-long history of the current parliamentary order, for as many as 67 MPs voted against, and close to 30 abstained from voting for a driver`s license bill tabled for the legislative house last January. Late last week, 88 MPs voted against and seven abstained from ratifying an emergency decree the Executive Committee of the EPRDF had agreed on a few weeks ago.

The fight over picking the next chairperson, who will most likely assume the Office of the Prime Minister, will be much tougher, gossip foretells. Already, there is a buzz around the country and in social media that Council members will deliver the decisive votes to Abiy Ahmed (PhD), recently elected as chairman of the OPDO. His being elected as chairman of the OPDO was a tactical move of vying for the chairmanship of the EPRDF, gossip has it.

The Revolutionary Democratic world hardly operates on that level, says gossip. It is against their tradition and is seen as counterproductive when an individual leader is out promoting themselves within and outside party platforms, gossip claims. It is very unlikely that the Executive Committee will agree on Abiy`s nomination for the chairmanship; he will find it difficult to muster votes outside of his own party, gossip predicts.

Indeed, gossip has it that many of the Executive Committee members, particularly those from the TPLF, a senior partner in the ruling coalition, seem to be lifting up Demeke Mekonnen as a preferred candidate. Demeke was reelected as chairman of the ANDM after surviving a bitter battle to unseat him from his position, gossip asserts. Having shown no desire to field their own as a candidate for the chairperson of the EPRDF, the votes from the TPLF’s council members have a great deal of weight in determining the outcome of the upcoming election, according to gossip.

Council members have the discretion of nominating anyone from the 180 among them, so long as the person is seconded by one-third of its members, gossip claims. Nonetheless, there can be no foolproof predictions; we will have to wait until the votes are counted, gossip states. Indeed, the results may make a mockery of political punditry, gossip says.

Published on Mar 03,2018 [ Vol 18 ,No 931]



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