10 February 2018

Ethiopia: The OPDO is Becoming a Force for Reform in the Revolutionary Democratic Camp, Claims Gossip...

Photo: Addis Standard
Businesses and schools are closed, and transport was disrupted to and from Lege T'afo, on the eastern outskirt of Addis Abeba, as the stay-at-home protest in Oromia enters its second day.

For a change, a component body of the ruling EPRDF concluded its top leadership meeting last week, issuing a communiqué whose content shows a significant departure from tradition, gossip noted. If judged only by the letters in the statement, the OPDO is becoming a force for reform in the Revolutionary Democratic camp, claims gossip.

The communiqué reaffirmed its leaders' resolve to work for national unity and peace, something that is often pronounced by all the members of the ruling coalition. Neither the declaration to bring equity in the economy, and social justice in the political sphere is much different from what other parties would have it, claims gossip.

The claim to see not only wealth is created, but its distribution should be equitable has a political nuance to it. The OPDO leadership has called for "accountability" and "transparency" in resource allocation and utilisation, something that has nailed it at the core of leadership crises within the EPRDF. It is transparency in governance and accountability to the electorate that has been dodging the Revolutionary Democrats for years, hence their legitimacy deficit.

However, the call for political inclusiveness is one that will be on a collision course with the Revolutionary Democrats' ideological zeal to maintain a hegemonic place in Ethiopia's political landscape, says gossip. In their demands for the restoration of constitutional order without erosion of any of its provisions, leaders of the OPDO have demonstrated political courage, claims gossip. They declared the impossibility of eradicating difference of opinion in society. They wanted to see the political space broadened to accommodate debate and dialogue, and the power of persuasion over coercion.

It is indeed a radical departure for a member of the ruling coalition to take a unilateral move calling for dialogue with the political opposition here and abroad "without any barrier" over differences in convection, gossip claims. The diaspora based Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) was the first to acknowledge OPDO's historic move and responded positively to the call for dialogue.

Once again, OPDO's communiqué has made it evident that the glue that makes the EPRDF what it is - democratic centralism - has been put to the test of time and wisdom, says gossip.

The 10-day meeting that led to such public pronouncements should be more captivating, claims gossip. One issue of contention among members of the OPDO Central Committee was whether to televise the whole proceeding to the public, gossip disclosed. It was an extension of a call by OPDO leaders to do likewise with the Executive Committee meeting of the EPRDF held back in December 2017.

If the proceedings were to broadcast, the public would have discovered that the OPDO has purged four of its Central Committee members, which included Birtukan Ayano, Ethiopia's former ambassador to Canada. The others are lesser known to the public.

The public would have also been informed why two of OPDO's veterans, Kuma Demekissa and Girma Birru, were not invited to the meeting despite their membership in the Central Committee and both were in Addis Abeba during the week the meeting took place. The current leadership of the OPDO perceives both as responsible for making the organisation subservient to the interests of the TPLF or some of its senior leaders, claims gossip. Little surprise there that they were pushed aside from the very party they have been instrumental in its founding and formative years, according to gossip.

The public would have found out about the criticism directed at each of OPDO's current leaders.

For instance, Lemma Megerssa, its chairman, was criticised for being a populist, a political vice the EPRDF tries to root out from its rank and file, gossip disclosed. Although credited for doing the dog-work of the organisation, its Deputy Chairman, Worqneh Gebeyehu (PhD), was blamed for showing indifference while individuals criticised in their respective parties for incompetence and poor leadership appointed to foreign missions as ambassadors, gossip revealed.

The most vehemently criticised politician in the OPDO leadership was Abiy Ahmed (PhD), secretary of the party, gossip revealed. Of the many criticisms directed at him, one that stands out was his alleged drive for political power, gossip disclosed.

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