16 June 2018

Ethiopia: The Speed At Which Abiy Ahmed Takes Things Has Begun to Unnerve Many...

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The speed at which Abiy Ahmed (PhD), chairman of the ruling EPRDF, takes things has begun to unnerve many in the party, gossip observed. His popular rhetoric may have pleased a large number of the public, but his accountability lies with the 180-member EPRDF Council that has elected him a couple of months ago.

As a Prime Minister, Abiy has shaken up senior positions in too many federal agencies within the shortest time of his ascendance to power. There is hardly an entity untouched by his enormous drive and energy. It had begun with the cabinet, where there had been an understanding within the party's top leadership that a couple of ministerial portfolios where their incumbent ministers had been moved around or absent would have been replaced, according to gossip. The outcome was a significant reshuffling that has taken even some of the remaining cabinet members by surprise, gossip revealed.

Although there was a general consensus on the replacements down the road of some of the longest-serving chiefs of federal agencies, including with the security and army, the pace of their removal has caused alarm on his intentions, claims gossip. There appears to be a generational shift in the making, looking at the list of people who are pushed to retirement and those who are left surrounding him, gossip says.

The exception to the rule could be Arkebe Oqubay (PhD) who still calls the shots on the economic front, claims gossip. During the EPRDF Council meeting where Abiy was elected to the chairmanship, Arkebe stood along the side of Abiy and his allies, arguing that not even the TPLF's culture would allow non-voting members to comment on candidates who are up for election, revealed gossip. He spared Abiy from a barrage of criticisms that could have come from the veteran EPRDFites in attendance of the meeting, gossip claims.

Unsurprisingly, the communique that came out from the TPLF's Central Committee meeting last week reflects the displeasure of the veterans on the manner Abiy and company are handling issues, claims gossip. More so than content, EPRDF is a political group which owes its functionality to its culture of democratic centralism, says gossip.

On a couple of layers, the communique was made contrary to this culture where it publicly challenged the resolutions passed by the EPRDF's Executive Committee, claims gossip. Never mind that nine of the TPLF political bureau members are in support of the resolution by the Executive Committee.

It was meant to be communicated to the public by either the chairman, his deputy or head of the EPRDF Secretariate, claims gossip. That Ahmed Shedie, a non-member to the Executive Committee and minister of Government Communications Affairs Office, made the public pronouncement on the decision to move on the Algiers Agreement and privatisation of state-owned companies irked many. It was taken as the state's position before party deliberations were completed, claims gossip.

Perhaps for the first time in the TPLF history, its Central Committee has questioned the conduct of its politburo members, thus urged the EPRDF leadership to call for meetings of both the Executive Committee and the Council. There has already been a decision to convene a meeting by the first scheduled for late next week, while the call for the Council to meet is yet to be made if it will, according to gossip.

Whichever the case will be, the EPRDF will call its congress for next August in Hawassa, where the Council will meet and debate on thorny issues before it reelects its chairman and deputy, says gossip.

In politics a season is too long, so they said. So much will transpire in the two months before now and then while it is becoming evident that Abiy and his allies are on the road to confrontation with their naysayers in the party, claims gossip. With widespread public support behind him, Abiy is in the process of power consolidation; he will hardly prevail before he is resisted by those who are holding onto the status quo that he is shaking up, gossip says.

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