Ethiopia: Less than 72hrs EPRDF's Council to elect new Chairman and PM

Addis Ababa, February 28, 2018 (GMN) - The much-anticipated meeting of the Council of Ethiopia's ruling party, EPRDF, will begin on Thursday, March 01/2018 and will take place for three consecutive days until Saturday, March 03/2018.

EPRDF's Council has 180 members comprised of 45 members each from the four major parties that make up the EPRDF: the Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organization (OPDO), the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), the Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement (SEPDM), and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

According to the source, the meeting is expected to discuss three outstanding issues. They are, in order of appearance: evaluating the party's six months performance report; approving the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn; and finally electing a new party chairman and a prime minister to replace the outgoing PM.

However, the Council's meeting will be preceded by a meeting of EPRDF's powerful bloc of 36, the executive committee, which has 9 members each from the four parties that make up the party, between Monday and Wednesday next week.

Although the announcement of election of the new chairman and the prime minister (a position traditionally been held by the same person), is one that's eagerly awaited at the end of the Council's meeting, much of what would happen during the Council's three days meeting will be mapped out during the executive's meeting between Monday and Wednesday, according to our source said.

The Council's meeting, including the election of the chairman and the prime minister, will take place soon after the end on Wednesday of the executive's meeting.

According to the party's doctrine, the 180 members of the council will be first asked to nominate their own choices of candidates. Among the nominees, those who will secure 1/3rd of the council's vote will be qualified as candidates for whom the members of the council will be casting their votes in a secret ballot.

Except for the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF), all the three parties are expected to field their respective nominates.

During the last several weeks, the executive and the central committees of each party have been conducting their own meetings in what the parties told their constituencies were meetings aimed at bringing about reforms, including leadership reshuffles. TPLF was the first to have finalized its meetings with major reshuffles both in the leadership and its executives.

On February 28, 2018, the 81 members of the OPDO Central Committee have announced a reshuffle within the party that saw the position of the party's chairman move from the Oromia region's president, Lemma Megerssa, to his vice president and party secretariat, Dr. Abiy Ahmed. Many consider the move as OPDO's calculated move to field Dr. Abiy, who is a member of parliament, as a potential candidate of the party for the position. Currently, Lemma Megerssa is not a member of parliament, which disqualifies him from becoming the country's prime minister.

Ethiopian politics is going through one of the most unpredictable crisis following a succession of nail-biting events since the last one week. On Thursday, February 15, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said he was resigning from his role as both Prime Minister and Chairman of Ethiopia's ruling party EPRDF, as well as his position as chairman of his own party, the Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement (SEPDM). The executive committee of both the EPRDF and SEPDM have quickly accepted the resignation, leaving the final and binding decision to the 180 strong members of EPRDF's Council.

The news of the Prime Minister's resignation was followed quickly by a decision on Friday by the council of ministers to impose yet another six months nationwide state of emergency and establish a military command post to oversee the emergency decree. On Wednesday this week, Siraj Fegessa, minister of defense, outlined details of the state of emergency, including restrictions on unauthorized public gatherings and a gag on regional authorities from discussing security issues of their respective regions with media without the permission of the command post, established to oversee the state of emergency's implementation and is led by Siraj himself. Unlike the 2016 -17 SoE, the fresh decree also restricted citizens from speaking to the media criticizing its provisions and implementations.

Source: Addis Standard.