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EPRDF council closed meeting hints a return to heavy handed policy

Latest updates from the ruling Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)indicate that the party is rather working to revert back to ruthless rule. Is it possible?

EPRDF _ Demeke
Hailemariam Desalegne and Demeke Mekonen
Credit : EPRDF official page

March 24,2018

The closed 180 member EPRDF council meeting is not coming to an end although there was an anticipation that it would, after the hand picking a new chairman, who will also be the next prime minister, end by the end of the week.

Conflicting information surfaces on social media regarding the meeting. Many who claim to have insider information from the closed door meeting say that the business of electing a new chairman who will replace Hailemariam Desalegn has turned out to be acrimonious.

US based Ethiopian News broadcaster, ESAT, reported yesterday alleged altercation between Lemma Megersa,president of Oromo region of Ethiopia, and Abay Tsehaye, one of the key figures within Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The report said that Abay Tsehaye dared to throw a bottled water on Lemma Megersa. However, this news is not confirmed by other sources.

The ruling coalition has started a new practice of sharing “motivational quotes” like messages on social media. In one of its latest messages, the party claimed that the council meeting is going well and a spirit of unity is reining ;

“The office of the council disclosed that the council meeting is still undergoing in a manner of unity of spirit and thought that is capable of resolving the party’s and government problems…” reads part of the update shared on the official Facebook page of the ruling coalition.

In another update shared on March 22, EPRDF hinted that the council will fill leadership vacancies “in accordance with EPRDF program and regulation.” The statement came after pro-government blogger, Daniel Berhane, who is believed to have strong connection and hence source within TPLF executives and intelligence, leaked (although he called it speculation) that “Ethiopia will have its first Muslim Prime minister.”

The prognosis following his “speculation” made many to believe that Demeke Mekonen, chairman of Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and known for his loyalty for TPLF leaders, is likely to be the next prime minister.

The March 22 update from EPRDF official facebook page which says that the vacancy will be filled “in accordance with the party program” seem to have pushed some to think in terms of Demeke Mekonen as the next prime minister. Statue of the party says the Deputy chairperson assumes the place of chairperson during absence of the chairperson. It is unclear if Hailemariam Desalgn resignation is considered as absence.

It is widely believed,reasonably so, that TPLF has still a firm grip on the coalition and many of the latest updates on the official page of the party seem to attest to that the party is looking for ways to take measures and actions that are meant to safeguard “revolutionary democracy” – ideology of the ruling elite. And that is where the problem lies ; Ethiopians are tired of it. And the objective reality in Ethiopia does not seem to be conducive to fight for safeguarding an ideology that brought about misery and repression for millions.

What that meas, indirectly, is that the regime’s effort to crack down on the movement for justice,which seem to have some support even within the ruling coalition,in the name of defending revolutionary democracy could further complicate the situation in Ethiopia.The ruling party now seem to believe,based on a statement from Government Communications Affair office, believe that that the problem in Ethiopia has a lot to do with “dissatisfaction with the level of economic success” and is not uncommon in other developmental states. This stand is contrary to statements that the party has been issuing a little before the state of emergency.

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