The Ethiopian government has abruptly cancelled the participation…




To the fury of British diplomats in Addis Abeba and the horror of their bosses at the Home Office, the Ethiopian government has abruptly cancelled the participation of its senior officials at a high-level investment conference scheduled for mid-week in London, gossip disclosed. No less than five ministers, including Worqneh Gebeyehu (PhD), minister of Foreign Affairs, and Yenager Dessie (PhD), governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia), had previously confirmed their participation in this trade and investment forum to be held on Tuesday. The forum was designed to promote Ethiopia’s potential in the areas of industry, mining and trade, claims gossip.

What infuriated the Brits is that months of preparation and expenditure to organise the event was suddenly put on ice without proper explanation, gossip claims. It won’t bode well for the administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) to frustrate a development partner in whose books Ethiopia claims the largest place in Africa and the second largest in the world, claims gossip. Indeed, the British public pumps no less than 110 billion Br in humanitarian assistance and development aid to Ethiopia every year.

Thus, there ought to be something more important to take place here in Addis to keep ministers such as Melaku Alebel of Trade; Sileshi Bekele (PhD) of Water, Irrigation & Electricity; Melese Alemu of Mines, Petroleum & Natural Gas; and Ambachew Mekonnen (PhD) of Industry from travelling to London without first getting the permission from their boss, claims gossip. One possible cause is the highly anticipated cabinet restructuring and reshuffling of ministers to serve under the administration of Prime Minister Abiy, according to gossip.

The Prime Minister will table a bill in parliament next week that will reorganise members of his administration. It will be the fifth reshuffling of the cabinet under the incumbent administration since the reelections of the ruling EPRDF in 2015, recalled gossip. Abiy’s predecessor, Hailemariam Desalegn, was compelled to change his cabinet no less than three times before he was compelled to leave office himself in April 2018.

So does the story of restructuring and reshuffling continue following the rise to political power of Abiy; it was only six months ago that he made his first significant changes to the composition of his administration, gossip recalled.

The new cabinet is expected to see a significant shape-up, downsizing the number of ministerial portfolios by eight to 20, gossip foresees. It will be the most considerable downsizing of an Ethiopian cabinet in over a decade, close to a 30pc cut from the first cabinet under Hailemariam when the incumbent government was formed in October 2015. Ministerial portfolios such as Public Enterprises; Youth & Sport; and perhaps the Ministry of Federal Affairs will not get their seats in the cabinet, claims gossip. Equally, there will be an amalgamation of various ministerial portfolios such as the ministries of Trade and Industry; Housing Development and Construction; Information and Science & Technology, all while a new ministry for peace might be formed, gossip claims.

Such a major reconfiguration of a cabinet will no doubt usher a new team into office and reveal the political alignments of Prime Minister Abiy, although things remain in the last stage of fine tuning, gossip says. It will be a tough choice for him since the individuals he will retain and appoint anew will be limited, leading to backdoor bargains, claims gossip.

A new ministry, bearing a curious name, Peace & Internal Affairs, and replacing Federal Affairs, will emerge; it could be run by Muferiate Kemil, claims gossip. Her current position as a speaker of parliament may go to Ambachew, gossip says. The possible move of Worqneh from the Foreign Office to the national intelligence or even the Ministry of Defense could lead to competition for the most prized ministry, Foreign Affairs, between ODP’s Lemma Megersa and ADP’s Ambachew, claims gossip. At the Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock, it is very likely that the current State Minister, Eyasu Abraha (PhD), could be elevated to the position of minister, says gossip.

Another prized portfolio, Ministry of Finance & Economic Cooperation, will likely see a change with the arrival in office of Ahmed Shedie, who once was a state minister there, claims gossip. He will leave behind the Federal Communications Office to Dagmawit Moges, a rising star in the Revolutionary Democratic camp, now serving as deputy mayor of Addis Abeba, gossip says. The serving Finance Minister, Abraham Tekeste (PhD), may end up in charge of the Ministry of Industry, claims gossip.



Published on Oct 13,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 963]


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