The one thing EPRDFites are averse to in their rule is the formation of more than one power centre…

The one thing EPRDFites are averse to in their rule is the formation of more than one power centre, gossip has observed. A quarter of a century on, with their strong grip on political power, their track record shows juggling between the party’s undue influence over the state as the case had been during the first decade of their rule. The state’s exercise of bureaucratic power behind the reaches of party apparatus was also one of the reasons that helped the late Meles Zenawi prevail over his political foes within the TPLF, in the early years of the 2000s, claims gossip.

Pretty much the rest of their rule was in an environment where whoever called the final shot was more than obvious. Meles had consolidated power to his last days, and had been a centre of gravity for state and party affairs, gossip recalls. As evidenced over the past five years, his untimely and unexpected departure has caused a rupture in the centrality of the exercise of power, claims gossip.

Gossip now sees more than one power centre clustered around the Prime Minister and Chairman of the ruling EPRDF, Hailemariam Desalegn, a second-generation EPRDFite. He appears to have been locked in a creeping power struggle against the very people to whom he owes his ascendancy to state power, claims gossip.

Hailemariam is seen edging in framing the contest for dominance as a battle between the new generation of leaders and the veterans in the EPRDF, gossip observes. Bringing them back to be on board in the frantic moments of the past two years, where popular discontent defined the political space, he is now trying to banish them, claims gossip. He may have been discomforted, thinking that they tried to overstep in their role selecting individuals for appointments, further down ministers and at state minister level, claims gossip.

Neither are the veterans to be quiet in this, gossip observes. Grossly dissatisfied with the leadership inadequacies of the younger generation to manage crises and govern a nation they have recreated in a manner they see fit, they have stepped up the heat on the Chairman, according to gossip. Vocal among them, but not limited to him, is Abay Tsehaye, one of the founding leaders of the TPLF and the EPRDF, according to gossip. Although far from cohesive in their formation, Bereket Simon, Sebhat Nega, Seyoum Mesfin, Addisu Legesse, Girma Biru and Kuma Demekisa can be considered having a place in the camps of the old guard, claims gossip.

In his bid to counter their influence exuded from their legacy, Hailemariam tries to galvanise political support from second-generation leaders in the ANDM and OPDO, for the TPLF is in as much leadership fracture as the EPRDF, gossip discloses. Unfortunate to him, his principled position in handling the quarrel between Lemma Megersa of Oromia and Abdi (Eli) Mohammed of Somali regional state, on the equal, may cost him the full support of the confident, bold and young leaders of the OPDO, gossip discloses.

Unlike the days of Meles when every power owed its dominion to the chamber up at Lorenzo Te’azaz Road, the regional states, particularly of the biggest four, contest the particular exercise of power by a single centre, claims gossip.

To such a precarious situation is added another power dynamic in the form of a command post, chaired by Hailemariam. Comprising members of heads of national defence and security as well as the federal police, Hailemariam exercises only one vote in an entity that has an overriding power under the Ethiopian sky, claims gossip. Ad hoc in nature, its lease of life is as long as the existence of the state of emergency that is in place. That is perhaps the reason why EPRDFites are helplessly divided over the issue of whether to extend the emergency law, claims gossip.

In the meantime though, it should be interesting to watch the influence, by virtue of office, accorded to Siraj Fegessa, a politician from the southern party, whose portfolio contains minister of Defense but currently serves as chief of the secretariat of the Command Post, gossip claims.

Published on May 10,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 889]



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