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Ethiopian opposition reportedly invited for the swearing in ceremony of new prime minister

Ethiopian opposition is invited to attend the installation of a new prime minister that will serve for the next two years; no remark from the opposition so far.

new prime minister
Picture from last Cabinet reshuffle. Abiy Ahmed seen third from bottom left

April 1, 2018

As the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is getting ready to install a new prime minister after Hailemariam Desalegn threw a town, opposition parties are reportedly formally invited to attend the ceremony in the parliament on Monday, according to a report by The Reporter, an insider to the dominant party in the ruling coalition.

The outgoing and the incoming prime ministers are expected to address the parliament, according to the source.

Based on the report, all registered political parties in the country are invited not only to the swearing-in ceremony but also for a dinner ceremony at the Grand National Palace, which is located in the heart of the capital Addis Ababa.

The invitation is sent out by the office of speaker of the parliament Abadula Gemeda who resigned in September of 2017 on grounds that his party Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), from which the new prime minister Abiy Ahmed is elected, and “his people” are disrespected only to come back through back door to continue in his role as speaker of the house. Ironically, there is no single opposition voice in the parliament as the ruling coalition, which is not being rattled with a popular protest, claimed 100 % win in the last federal election.

In December of 2017, the ruling coalition promised to “broaden the democratic space for the sake of national reconciliation” in the country and close down the torture chamber in the capital Addis Ababa, amid relentless anti-government protest across Ethiopia. In the ensuing months, some political prisoners including prominent journalists like Eskinder Nega, and politicians like Andualema Arage, Bekele Gerba and Merera Gudissa were released.

Despite the release of those prisoners, the ruling party’s pledge to “broaden the democratic space” met with a good measure of skepticism. This month, the regime rearrested some of the politicians and journalists including Andualem Arage and Eskinder Nega under the guise of the state of emergency legislation.

Unlike the emergency parliamentary meeting that was called to approve the state of emergency which was in a closed-door meeting, the swearing-in ceremony will be televised live.

An invitation is extended to the diplomatic community in Addis Ababa.

Invited opposition leaders in the country didn’t remark regarding the invitation and it is not clear if they are going to attend it or not.

The election of the 42 years old chairman of Oromo People’s Democratic Organization as chairman of the ruling coalition and as prime minister for the next two years generated a mixed reaction. Critical opposition voices and they are many, tend to see the anticipation for meaningful political change from Abiy Ahmed as a sort of illusion and they point to the fact that the structures used to repress Ethiopians are intact and still under the control of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Some seem to celebrate the election of Abiy Ahmed as “the first Oromo prime minister” which is actually incorrect, as some activists like Ahcamyeleh Tamiru point out, as there have been Oromo prime ministers in Ethiopia during the imperial government of Haileselassie and during colonel Mengistu Hailemariam government. In fact, although known for his nationalist stand, the ethnic origin of Colonel Mengistu Hailemariam himself is Oromo and he mentioned that in an interview a few years ago.

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