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HomeEthiopian NewsLemma lost Upper House seat,losing Defense Minister Position

Lemma lost Upper House seat,losing Defense Minister Position

Lemma Megersa reportedly terminated from Ethiopian Upper House Membership.

Lemma Megersa
Lemma Megersa during the inauguration of Ethiopian Consulate in Minnesota in March 2019/

August 12, 2020

When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed awarded Lemma Megersa a necklace that he himself awarded from the Ministry of Peace and the “peace family” in an event organized at the Millennium Hall in October 2019, the former had a pleading tone. The body language also hinted (watch video) that something was not right between the two ethnic Oromo politicians who were seen as the motors of the reform movement.

In November 2019, it became clear that they have developed a political difference. Lemma himself made it public when he used the Voice of America platform to declare that he does not believe in the “Medemer” — a sort of new political ideology that Abiy Ahmed is said to have developed. It is articulated as a “political philosophy,” with four pillars; “Building a vibrant democracy, Economic vitality, encouraging public-private partnerships and Regional integration and openness to the world.” And it is sold as if it is an indigenous political philosophy.  

The former boss of Abiy Ahmed, Lemma Megersa, opposed Medemer saying that the “Oromo question” is not yet addressed.

Next phase for the new ideology was to create a support structure for it. In that line, Abiy Ahmed initiated the merger of four members parties of the former ruling coalition, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), and five other parties that were known as “support parties,” (or sister parties). That was another “No” for Lemma. He did not want to lose the “Oromo Democratic Party” for the same reason; “Oromo question is not addressed.” His argument was : “the idea is not right. Even if it is right, the time is not right.”

Lemma Megersa (far right on the front row) during a vote administered on the fate of the former coalition, EPRDF.

Despite that, the former coalition parties merged to form a single united party — Prosperity Party in late November 2019. However, the newly merged party did not lose its ethnic character. Because the Federal regions are based on ethnicity, the new party becomes an ethnic party when it operates in the regions.

Prosperity Party offices in the regions mostly retained executive committee members from the defunct formal ethnic parties. In the case of the Oromo region of Ethiopia, for example, executive members of the former Oromo Democratic Party became executive committee members of the Prosperity Party Oromia Branch.

Lemma Megersa himself remained in the executive committee member of Oromia region Prosperity Party, but he was not a member of it as details emerged later.

This week, the party announced that it has terminated him as an executive committee member.  The party said that he was terminated “temporarily” — it means that if he wants to be a member of the Prosperity Party, he will be accepted again. Among the reasons for his termination, according to the party, was that he failed to discharge responsibility and was not attending party meetings.

Days after this termination as an executive committee member, reports came on Wednesday that he is also terminated from his role as a member of the House of Federation (Ethiopian Upper House). Based on reports from social media, he was regularly skipping sessions.

Since he is not a member of the Prosperity Party, he is also losing his position as the Minister for Defense which is anticipated to be formally announced anytime.

Oromo region Prosperity Party Public relation head, Taye Dendea, says those purged members, including Lemma Megersa, have four options : to establish their own political party, to join other political parties, to return to the Prosperity Party, or to quit politics. Lemma’s move is unclear at this point in time.

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