Negasso Gidada was once a chairman of OPDO but was dismissed from it after a political collision course with the late Meles Zenawi. He is now honoured for his service.
February 21, 2018
As a show of resistance to unregulated power of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a party that represents only six percent of the Ethiopian population, within the ruling coalition and in the federal government, Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) recently flexed its political muscle by taking decisions that would rather anger the former. And one of it is the decision regarding Negasso Gidada.
Negasso served as president of Ethiopia from 1995 until he happened to be not in good terms with the late Meles Zenawi and had to quit the office of the president in 2001. Although he left office at the end of his term, he was already dismissed from OPDO, which is one of the coalition’s members of EPDRF and He was dismissed from EPRDF itself.
Initially, he was not denied retirement benefits as a former president. The tempting political condition in Ethiopia compelled Negasso to run in the national election as an independent candidate in his hometown of Dembi Dollo which gave a chance to the vengeful TPLF to throw punches, an economic one, against Negasso. He was stripped of retirement benefit including housing and there was a time when he had to live in a house with a leaking roof. He was condemned to an impoverished life along with his wife, a nurse from Germany.
Negasso Gidada already saw the dark side of the ruling party while he was still in power and he was the first politician to openly oppose the late Meles Zenawi when he likened him to Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam during a parliamentary session. Later when he joined the opposition party, he apologized for Ethiopians for being a party to a repressing regime and for misleading Ethiopians that the current constitution was adopted with full participation of Ethiopians, which was not the case as he admitted.
In his years as part of the leadership of the opposition, he had to survive on less than $200 a month pension. In a recent appearance on a talk show, Seyfu on EBS, he did not shy away from telling the story that survival would not have been possible had it not been to the strength of his German wife who was working two jobs in Addis Ababa.
OPDO steppted in belatedly
One of the important decision that OPDO leadership passed in its latest executive meeting was reinstating benefits to Negasso Gidada.
As per the decision, he was promised to get a new car and he got a 2018 Nissan which is said to be three million Ethiopian Birr.
The party has also decided to cover full medical expense should he need to travel abroad for medication.
Further, he will now get a monthly retirement income of 30,000 Ethiopian Birr.
The decision by OPDO, the party he once chaired, while serving as president of Ethiopia, is not just of economic significance.
It is a remarkable political success against the brutes of TPLF which is known for its passion for humiliating dissenting voices.
The fact that Negasso Gidada joined Unity for Democracy and Justice Party, now defunct, which was not an ethnic-based party was perhaps seen as an ideological attack on TPLF.
Negaso made a significant contribution to the political conversations along the line of reversing ethnic-based hatred between Ethiopia’s two largest language speaking groups, Amhara and Oromo.
OPDO party itself seem to have made significant progress in that regard although it seems to be still incapable of confronting radicalized ethnic-nationalist Oromo speakers who sporadically launch a savagery attack on other Ethiopians in Oromo region of Ethiopia.
What OPDO is successful about, so far, is that it has shown that TPLF it will no longer be allowed to have its way, especially when it comes to the rights of other Ethiopians.
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