Lemma Megersa ’s expressed stand on Medemer and merger of coalition party is seen by many, including considerable number of pro-Ethiopian ethnic Oromo, as an act to betrayal to Abiy Ahmed’s government effort to take Ethiopia in the path to reconciliation.
November 29, 2019
Credible sources reported that Lemma Megersa, Defense Minister and deputy chair of Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), came to the open claiming that he does not believe in “Medemer” – a sort of political ideology that was introduced as the Orbit for the reform movement and measure in Ethiopia after the ruling coalition elected Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as chairman of the party and prime minister of the country in April 2018.
It was in an interview with VOA Oromo language service, which was aired partially on Friday this week, that Lemma Megersa said he does not believe either in the merger of the coalition member parties nor in Medemer itself.
“I have a different view from the get-go,” VOA Amharic cited Lemma as saying. He talked about two reasons:
1) Lemma says that “Oromo questions” are not yet addressed although it is not elaborated as to what questions are not answered
2) The merger is not right. Even if it is right, the timing is not right, which he explained in terms of what he called unanswered Oromo question.
Lemma’s interview with VOA Oromo language service is not aired in its entirety. The source said that it will not be aired until Lemma Megersa’s party responds to VOA – seemingly questions posed to confirm and clarify.
Lemma Megersa, with his “Ethiopianism is an addiction” speech which he said in the eve of alliance formation between what was Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) during a visit to Amhara region of Ethiopia, was seen by many Ethiopian’s as one of the key leaders of the reform measures in Ethiopia. At the time he was the chairman of OPDO and he stepped down as chairman so as to make way for Abiy Ahmed to compete for Prime Minister Position within the ruling party as Lemma was not qualified to run for the position.
When Abiy Ahmed made a tour to North America to meet with Ethiopians, Lemma Megersa accompanied him and he was also accepted as a national hero. He was painted as a political personality who works for the unity of Ethiopia with his colleague Abiy Ahmed embracing the medemer political principle. In fact, he acted as if he supports medemer.
In recent months, rumors of a rift between Abiy Ahmed and Lemma Megersa began to surface. In public, the relation between the two did not appear that way too. Abiy rather demonstrated a more deferential gesture towards Lemma.
When the cabinet members awarded Abiy Ahmed a necklace bearing Ethiopia’s map during an event organized to celebrate Abiy Ahmed’s Nobel Peace Prize win and the launch of his “medemer” book, Abiy asked permission from the cabinet members, took the necklace off himself and awarded it to Lemma Megersa. Abiy’s repressed emotions were noticeable during the time.
Picture from EPRDF executive committee latest meeting called to pass a decision on merger agenda had a story about Lemma Megersa. He was seated aloof on the front row and appeared as if he raised his hand uncomfortably during the vote on merger.
In any case, the difference between Lemma and the rest of the executive is now public. Undoubtedly, Lemma decision to stay in the old politics that emphasizes ethnicity will have some impact but it may not mean that it will stop the merger.
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