As was expected, Abiy Ahmed (PhD) has consolidated power after being reelected by the Revolutionary Democrats in Hawassa last week, with votes that amount to near unanimity. Of the 180 Council members of the EPRDF, only three failed to show up, including Getachew Assefa of the TPLF, the controversial former spymaster, gossip disclosed.
Getachew was reelected to the TPLF political bureau, despite his delicate relationship with Abiy's administration. His reelection has infuriated many Council members of EPRDF coming from the rebranded Amhara Democratic Party (ADP). A couple of their delegates raised the issue in Hawassa last week, only to be rebuked by their chairman, claims gossip.
Now that Abiy has achieved a full mandate from his party - all but one of the 177 Council members voted for him - the weeks ahead are expected to reveal his intentions on how to govern the country, according to gossip. Whether he will introduce sweeping reforms on the political and economic fronts and to what degree he will be compelled to remain within the Front's ideological convictions is yet to be seen, says gossip.
It is almost certain that he will start with a broad reshuffling of his cabinet and a significant restructuring of its portfolios in the next few weeks, gossip anticipates. There will be ministries folded, downgraded or lumped in with others, while some of the old portfolio ministries will introduce internal restructuring, claims gossip.
Take for instance the Ministry of Construction, which is expected to lower its status to the federal agency level, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have an internal restructuring that will introduce no less than five new positions of permanent secretaries, gossip disclosed. There will also be reassignments of ambassadors and envoys to almost all the missions Ethiopia has overseas, claims gossip.
The change at the foreign office may also see the move to another office of the Minister himself, Worqneh Gebeyehu (PhD), who is considered to be one of the closest confidants of Prime Minister Abiy, gossip disclosed. Having a background as chief of the Federal Police, Worqneh's next destination could also be to land a job as a special advisor in the National Security Council or even take the helm as chief of the national security agency, gossip foresees.
At the foreign office, he will probably be replaced by Lemma Megersa, now president of the Oromia Regional State, a close ally of both Abiy and Worqneh, claims gossip. Despite all this though, it will hardly be any surprise if Lemma and Worqneh swap their positions, for the possibility of last minute changes of mind by Abiy's administration has been evident lately, says gossip.
Gossip recalls the last minute changes made in the appointments of deputy mayors for Addis Abeba a few weeks ago. It was Ambachew Mekonnen (PhD) of the ADP who was first picked to take the helm of the city's leadership; however, pressure on Abiy from Lemma has brought Takele Uma to the fore, gossip disclosed. It is now very likely that Ambachew, a rising star in the ADP, will have a prominent role as a staunch ally of Abiy in the affairs of the federal government, gossip claims.
Another politician from ADP but affected by the political maneuvering over the past few months was Ahmed Abitew, former minister of Industry, who was recently appointed by Abiy to chair the board of directors of the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, gossip observed. Also head of the board of directors of TIRIT, an endowment company affiliated with ADP, he was reelected neither to the political bureau of the ADP nor to its central committee. It is doubtful he will continue to hold onto these positions as a rank-and-file member of the ADP without having a seat at the executive committee of the EPRDF, gossip claims.