EPRDF statement reveals TPLF intransigence to address popular demands
December 31, 2017
Ethiopian ruling party, EPRDF, concluded three weeks long meeting yesterday. Due to the high-level secrecy of the meeting, most Ethiopians did not know about agenda items of the meeting and had to depend mostly on leaked information.
Two weeks into the meeting the party issued what many analysts described as a vague statement highlighting that the executive is dealing with “division and suspicion” within the umbrella party which is a coalition of four ethnic-based political parties.
But from leaked information, it was known that at least two of the member parties, Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), tabled the issue of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) domination over key federal structures and in the economy, which is a pervasive sentiment in the country, in the opposition quarter as well as among members of the ruling party.
As the meeting was underway, pro-TPLF media outlets, like Aigaforum and Tigray Online, breathed tension in a way reflecting the spirit in the meeting as TPLF was challenged.
In a news article that appeared on Tigrayonline entitled “What is the fate of Ethiopia after the Executive Committee of EPRDF meeting?” the writer went to the extent of telling the people of Tigray: “You are not solely responsible to hold the sky of Ethiopian unity. Wake up and get your house in order and invest where you will be safe.” Strange as it may seem, with all due distinction between people of Tigray and TPLF, Ethiopians rather think that TPLF ravaged the Unity of Ethiopia the advent of ethnic politics as a means of maintaining a hold on power and see logical connection between mounting ethnic violence in the country and politicized ethnic identity which is in line with government ideology and administrative structure. For many, it is not possible to continue to walk the path of ethnic politics and expect unity.
Aiga Forum, another Pro-TPLF digital news outlet, has been published equivocal and polemical contents with intent to defend TPLF/EPRDF ideology since EPRDF executive started its meeting. At times, it paints a picture that EPRDF meeting is going well. At other times, it expressed concern over the wranglings in the meeting.
The tension in pro-TPLF camp diffused in no time giving way to TPLF style celebratory rant since yesterday as the party issued a brief statement upon completing the meeting promising that a detailed statement would be issued on Saturday.
With the statement, which was more like notice, the party tested the water with news of Abadula Gemeda and Bereket Simon’s nod to rescind their resignation as speaker of the House of representative and policy institute head respectively. The reaction from Ethiopians was a mixture of indifference and despise to the individuals, especially to Abadula Gemeda who resigned a few months back claiming that “his party and people” (Oromo People’s Democratic Organization and Oromo people) were disrespected. As he was rescinding his resignation, government security forces killed two civilians in Wollega , Oromo region of Ethiopia.
Earlier Abadula Gemeda opposed a move by OPDO members of the federal parliament to postpone discussion on “Oromia special interest over Addis Ababa” which was apparently understood by members of OPDO as a set up to break up an alliance between ANDM and OPDO. And his decision to rescind resignation is taken in the opposition as a sign that the very issue of TPLF domination in the ruling coalition is not reversed after three weeks of meeting and TPLF emerged as a dominant force again.
Indeed, from a long obnoxious and arduous statement that EPRDF issued today, it has become clear for most Ethiopians that TPLF resolved to restore its domination, in areas where it lost it, and maintain it through forceful action and has plans to embark on extensive purger of elements who are demonstrated sentiment to respect popular movements and promoting unity among Ethiopians.
The Statement and reactions to it
Having stated that EPRDF executive reached an agreement after assessing the situation in the country and exploring what it called old and new challenges, it claimed there is a consensus among EPRDF member parties on the source, manifestation, and solutions of existing problems in Ethiopia.
It mostly painted a picture that the problems are rather related to leadership incompetence, rent-seeking practice in the ranks of leadership at different levels, internal democracy issue within the party and what it called alliance “that is not based on principle” rather than the political configuration in the country
It has also raised the failure to promote dual identity that combines ethnic and national identity as a cause for the existing problem, deepening ethnic violence. The party also noted, just now, that the situation in the country has made Ethiopia vulnerable to foreign intervention and security problem. The reactions? The party has a rejectionist stance to the view that politicized ethnic-based ideology is a risk to national security in the event of foreign aggression.
As such there was no positive expectation from most Ethiopians out of the EPRDF meeting. Indeed, what is noted is EPRDF, which is seen as a cover for TPLF, statement is determination to maintain a hold on power at any cost.
Further, Ethiopians noted that TPLF has become restless and nervous about deepening and reinvigorating relations between Amhara and Oromo – which together constitute over 60 % of Ethiopia’s 100 million population. Its renewed resolve to undermine the relationship and to promote hatred, as was the case in the past, is also noted.
Ethiopians in social media, both from the country and abroad, were quick to ridicule and make satire out of the contents of the statement, especially one that targets harmonious relation between Amhara and Oromo which EPRDF insinuated as “unprincipled alliance.”
The length that TPLF traveled to trivialize the notion of TPLF and Tigray domination over Ethiopia was contradicted when the party’s commitment to maintaining domination is reflected in the directions that the party intends to take to resolve the situation in the country. Although not explicitly expressed, there seem to be a move to restore a form centralism within the party and regions will have to heed to instruction from the center.
On the other hand, the tendency among Ethiopians is that Ethiopia will never be the same again for TPLF and its move to restore its domination will only make things worse. But some expressed it with moderation.
Awol Kassim Allo teaches Law at Keele University. He wrote the following in reaction to EPRDF’s statement :
- “The TPLF led EPRDF just told us, in no uncertain terms, that (1) it is entitled to rule for eternity (2) it does not hesitate to squash us into silence (3) it still does not have the most basic of regard to the more than 100 million people it rules.
We shall not accept that fate. Never!”
Yetneberk Tadele, a journalist based in Ethiopia (writes on Kaliti post) reacted, in Amharic, to the vagueness of EPRDF statement :
- መግለጫ አለ የተገለጠ ነገር ግን የለም!
translates to “there is a statement but nothing is stated [or revealed]”
Overall the understanding among Ethiopians, from many social media updates, is that TPLF is committed to maintaining its hold on power rather than resolving the situation in the country by addressing popular demands. TPLF statement ( or EPRDF in its sham name) assumes that Ethiopian’s desire for an end to TPLF rule is unacceptable. The popular protests in many parts of Ethiopia, on the other hand, seem to tell a story of freedom from TPLF or death.
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