Ethiopia Election 2020 Section

Ethiopia Election 2020: Plan to Dissolve Ruling Party Prompts Internal Criticism

VOA reports that the latest expression of disapproval to PM Abiy Ahmed's efforts to reorganize and rebrand the ruling coalition in advance of next year's election is coming from senior government officials including Defense Minister Lemma Megerssa, who is "currently visiting the U.S. with a delegation aiming to strengthen the two countries’ defense partnerships." (Reuters photo)

VOA News

By Salem Solomon

Efforts to End Ethiopia’s Ruling Party Draw Criticism from Within

WASHINGTON – A decision by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to dissolve the ruling party months ahead of the 2020 national election has prompted criticism from the upper echelons of his own government.

In an interview with VOA’s Afaan Oromo Service, Minister of Defense Lemma Megerssa said unrest in the country means it is the wrong time to create a new political party.

“Merging this party is not timely as there are many dangers. We are in a transition,” he said, speaking in Afaan Oromo. “This is borrowed time; it is not ours. We are facing several problems from different places during this borrowed time.”

Lemma is currently visiting the U.S. with a delegation aiming to strengthen the two countries’ defense partnerships.

In November, Abiy announced that the country’s ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, EPRDF, would dissolve and become one unified party called the Prosperity Party.

Tagesse Chafo Speaker of House of Representative, left, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, right, leaving the parliament…

The decision came after a vote by coalition members in support of the change. On December 1, the prime minister held a ceremony in the capital celebrating the new party and saying it “has also prepared a clear program and bylaws as well as a 10-year plan that leads Ethiopia to prosperity,” state-media reported. Previously the EPRDF had been a coalition of four ethnically based parties.

VOA Report

But the decision has prompted a backlash. The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) refused to take part in the vote to form the new party. Debretsion Gebremichael, the TPLF chairman and acting regional president, told reporters in a press briefing that the move “weakens the federal system and takes away the rights of people to self-administration. The drive to form a united party does not consider the existing situations in the country.”

And though the Oromo Democratic Party, formerly the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization, voted in favor of the change, prominent Oromo leaders have voiced displeasure. Lemma, who is from the Oromo ethnic group, said the party has not yet delivered on its promises to its people and therefore should continue to exist. “The [Oromo Party] leaders have promised to answer some of the big questions the Oromo people have entrusted us with,” he said. “Doing this without answering questions is not right, and it’s failing to deliver on the promises we made.”

Over the last three to four years, Oromo people have protested what they view as unfair treatment over a host of issues, including land rights in and around the capital city, Addis Ababa. Protests in late October over an alleged threat to the safety of Oromo activist Jawar Mohammed led to the deaths of 86 people.

Lemma and others argue that a change now will do little to quell the ethnic violence spreading in Ethiopia. “It’s not the time to come up with something new, but a time to solve problems that we should be focused on,” he said. “We should focus on maintaining peace and stability and focus on macroeconomics, especially people’s struggle with the rising cost of living.”

But Fekadu Tessema, a spokesman for Abiy’s governing coalition, said the change was not a hasty decision. “We don’t think that the process has been sped up. It has been in the works for a year and a half, and the change has to be led with a clear flow chart and vision,” he said.

He also said the unified party is in line with Abiy’s guiding philosophy known as “medemer,” or “addition.” The philosophy seeks to erase the division between people and create a nation that is greater than the sum of its parts.

“What ‘medemer’ means is to highlight our knowledge, our thinking, and putting all the good attributes in one place,” Fekadu said. “And things like hate, violation of human rights, the question of injustice, and the issues of lack of democracy and lack of freedom and other issues that people have been pointing out, and issues that were seen during the time of EPRDF, have to be corrected.”

This story is based on interviews that originated in the Horn of Africa Service. VOA Afaan Oromo service’s Jalene Gemeda conducted the interview with Minister of Defense Lemma Megerssa in Afaan Oromo, and Tizita Belachew translated the interview in Amharic. Muktar Jemal interviewed Fekadu Tessema, a spokesman for Abiy’s governing coalition, in Amharic.


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Ethiopia Election 2020: Ruling Coalition Seeks to Further Unite Ahead of Vote

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. (Getty Images)

Bloomberg

By Samuel Gebre

Ethiopia’s ruling coalition took a step closer to the creation of a national unity party as Africa’s second most-populous nation prepares for elections.

The executive committee of the alliance voted for the merger of the four parties, Fikadu Tessema, a committee member, said in an interview with the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corp.

The move will include a fair representation of the ethnic groups in the alliance, Tessema told the national broadcaster. The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front or EPRDF, a former rebel movement that’s made up of four regional parties, will wait for the final confirmation from the coalition’s 180-member council. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) faction of the party opposed the merger.


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Prominent Abiy Critic Says to Stand in Ethiopia Election (AFP)

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Ethiopia Election 2020: Prominent Abiy Critic Says to Stand in Election (AFP)

Mired in controversy, Jawar Mohammed says he is running for office (AFP Photo/STRINGER)

AFP

Prominent Abiy Critic Says to Stand in Ethiopia Election

Addis Ababa (AFP) – Jawar Mohammed, a former ally turned foe of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, told AFP on Saturday he would join the race for a 2020 election to ensure that it is “free and fair”.

Jawar, a media mogul and activist who was at the centre of last month’s deadly protests in Addis Ababa, is credited with helping to sweep Abiy to power but has recently criticised some of the premier’s policies.

Jawar told an audience in the US state of Minnesota that he would run in next year’s vote, a decision he confirmed to AFP by phone.

“I’ve not decided which position or which party. What I’ve decided is to run,” he said.

“The purpose is to help to ensure the election is free and fair. I want to add my voice and my influence to ensure the election is free and fair. And I want to make sure the federalist voices are given enough space in the debate.”

Both Abiy, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Jawar are from the Oromo ethnic group, Ethiopia’s largest, and their feud highlights divisions within the Oromo support base that could complicate the prime minister’s bid for a five-year term.

Ethiopian-born Jawar said he would have to give up his current US citizenship and reclaim Ethiopian citizenship to be able to enter the contest, in which he said he could run for the Oromia regional parliament or the national assembly.

Jawar, who has 1.7 million followers on Facebook, said he would return to Ethiopia within 10 days to start the paperwork needed for his candidacy.

Ethiopia’s general election is scheduled for May 2020, but many observers expect the vote to be delayed as preparations are already running behind schedule.


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Ruling Coalition Seeks to Further Unite Ahead of Vote

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