Bringing new leaders at the helm of the EPRDF’s top leadership

Tigrai Online
Sept 21 2010

EPRDFBringing new leaders at the helm of the party’s top leadership that should also redraw the coming federal government’s hierarchy, the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has claimed full acceptance of the public. The party envisages wining at least the next two elections and while touting that it remains to be sole director of the nation’s political fate unless a new opposition group eventually comes.

The party’s 8th congress held in Adama town of Oromia Regional State this week approved a report predominantly focused on the draft Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) that visualizes doubling the country’s economy in the coming five years.

Prior to this week’s Adama congress, held from Wednesday 15th to Friday 17th September, the four parties of the EPRDF each held their congresses in their respective regional cities and two of them elected new leaders.

In what seemed to be the first step, the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO) and the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) of the EPRDF have now new leaders. ANDM chair Addisu Legesse who was also deputy chair of the EPRDF and deputy Prime Minister of the federal government was the first one to go. A freshman cabinet member, Education Minister, Demeke Mekonnen is a chairman of the ANDM.

Abadula Gemeda, president of the Oromia Regional State and chairman of OPDO has given up both seats. A low profile figure member, Alemayehu Atomsa, is now the leader of OPDO.

Among veteran figures who retired in the first move of the succession plan is the elite Sebhat Nega who was among the founders of TPLF and an influential member of TPLF-EPRDF who is said to have groomed Meles for the current position.

Sebhat, better known as Aboy Sebhat to party insiders, has retired from the party’s leadership on age ground. Health setbacks also led ANDM senior figure Minister of Capacity Building Tefera Walwa to retire from all leadership posts both in ANDM and EPRDF.

While some are retiring, some are coming to the limelight. Among notable promotion is First Lady Azeb Mesfin who in her first parliament seat last term chaired the social affairs standing committee of the federal parliament.

The First Lady is now the only female member of the 9 and 36 member executive committees’ member of the TPLF and EPRDF.

Deputy Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn?
Two of the EPRDF member parties: Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Southern Ethiopia Peoples’ Democratic Movement (SEPDM) have reelected their leaders. PM Meles Zenawi is the leader of the TPLF while current Government Whip, Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is chair of SEPDM.

In the last day of the three day congress the party reelected PM Meles as Chair. In a result which came as a surprise to most pundits, Hailemariam, who was reelected to lead SEPDM unanimously, is now a new deputy chair of the EPRDF.

According to the recent remarks of Meles’ party leadership and federal government top seats goes hand in hand which effectively reserves him the premiership post. Hailemariam in the same arrangement is expected to become the next Deputy Prime Minister of the federal government.

Power from North to South
Established in 1989 EPRDF has been chaired by TPLF from day one and ANDM has all along assumed the second top seat which was also directly reflected by the federal government.

According to analysts Meles’ TPLF, which started the armed struggle early 1974 earlier than any of the four members, is the veteran of the ruling front while Hailemariam’s SEPDM is the youngest one.

SEPDM was first a coalition of 20 parties and was established in November 1992 in Hawassa. The movement joined EPRDF in the same year. The parties later unified into one movement in 2002.

Hailemariam, who was president of the Southern State, and party colleague Redwan Hussen were the leading new figures that represented the EPRDF in the May elections.