Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) will soon travel to the United States to address an estimated 40,000 members of the Ethiopian Diaspora at a Washington D.C. convention center, gossip says. Despite the excitement in meeting an otherwise hostile audience to his predecessors, Abiy leaves behind pockets of hotspots at home, claims gossip.
The most recent one is his appointment of Takele Uma as the new Deputy Mayor of Addis Abeba, but with the rank and powers of a Mayor, gossip noted. An engineer by training and a former mayor for towns in the outskirts of Addis Abeba, Takele's appointment has created a disappointment among Abiy's most reliable allies in the ANDM, for they had thought they cut a deal to see one of their rising stars, Ambachew Mekonnen (PhD), replace Diriba Kuma, gossip disclosed.
Last minute pressure on Abiy from his staunch ally in the OPDO, Lemma Megersa, is attributed to the change of mind in Abiy. Takele is known to be much closer to Lemma, although he is also close to the Prime Minister, gossip disclosed.
That the Prime Minister circumvented the constitution of the metropolitan city to install someone who is not a member of the city council was a move that infuriated those who had wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, claims gossip. But getting on the nerves of his allies in the ANDM, so far loyal allies to the OPDO within the EPRDF in-house politics, will probably cost him some vital support when his chairmanship is up for contest come the Front's congress soon, gossip says.
The ruling EPRDF has a culture of holding its conventions every two years or so. The convention held before national elections - its leaders like to use the word "Congress" - is the most critical, for it is here the Front positions itself to enter into electoral battle. Its programs get approved in the form of a manifesto, and its leaders in the rank and file get regrouped.
As is customary, the elections for its chairman and deputy chairman positions would be held regardless of whether the same people are re-elected. The next convention, postponed twice, is scheduled to take place in Hawassa during the first week of September 2018, gossip disclosed. Massive preparations are underway by the Front's Secretariat, run by Fetleworq G. Egziyabher, a.k.a Monjorino, and four papers are lined up to be presented to the convention, revealed gossip.
There will be a series of meetings by central committees of the respective parties, with the possibility of changes of the members that may regroup the membership of the EPRDF Council. With a size of 180, it is this council that elects the chairperson and the deputy. Whether the meeting by the Executive Committee of the EPRDF will be held before that or bypassed by the convention is yet to be seen, claims gossip.
While the Chairman appears to be very reluctant to call the Executive Committee meeting prior to the convention, there is an effort from leaders of the TPLF to secure the one-third petition from the 36 members to compel Abiy to call the meeting, says gossip.
With or without the meeting by the EPRDF Executive Committee, the next convention will have to dwell on issues such as the full membership of the allied parties in the peripheral states to the EPRDF and the reformation of the EPRDF as one single party, gossip disclosed.
No less crucial is the resurgence of demands by zones in the Southern Regional State for the right to become their own regional states, gossip observed. The most prominent in this group is the Sidama Zone where a population of 4.7 million demands to have its own regional state, after a decision to this effect was made not only by the council of the Zonal Administration but also members of the ruling party's structure there, gossip noted.
It will be almost unavoidable for the EPRDF congress to gloss over this issue, claims gossip. Accepting the demand for regional status could create a precedent for future demands, while ignoring Sidama Zone's demand for an upgrade to regional state status places the party in collision with a growing popular agenda now more than ever, gossip disclosed.