Ethiopia : Inside EPRDF’s Promotion and Demotion Event

In the backdrop of the 8th organizational and allied party’s theatrical conferences, Ethiopia’s ruling cliques are having a promotion and demotion barbecue this week. For all that we know, Ethiopia’s only strong man, Mr. Meles Zenawi is sworn in as a Prime Minister. Hooray! What a surprise.

Inside EPRDF, promotion is the equivalent of its antonym. Since no one is destined to be more popular than the Prime Minister, hence a threat to power, a leader seen as well-liked by the public is “promoted” to a higher office. By so doing, TPLF ensures that the leader is detached from the base and will be powerless at a less influential post in the federal government.

The most recent victim of such schematic maneuver is the next Speaker of the House, Mr. Abadula Gemeda. Abadula is no celebrity among Oromo people but he has revamped his liking diligently attracting a much younger and trustable college graduates into the ranks of OPDO. Enervated by corruption allegations and having lost the chairmanship to Kuma’s protégée’s, he has now made history for himself as “Ethiopia’s First 6th Grader Speaker of the House.”

Perfidiously enough, reportedly Zenawi is intent on naming four deputy Prime Ministers. It is an exercise in futility if this was meant to give the regime a facelift as a Polyarchy. Ever tightening the grip on power, Meles Zenawi is determined to become the next Mugabe or Hosni Mubarak of Ethiopia.
Much remains to be seen as to who gets what in coming days. One thing is clear. No chance insight for Ethiopia to transition into a more democratic and stable state.

In a related development, the talk about the five year growth and transformation plan is also winding down as Meles openly beseeches “donors” to finance his government’s initiatives. I thought, he said, “Ethiopia will be a self-reliant Utopia in five years”, never needing donors again. Was that a trap?

At a meeting held with “International Development Partners”, the World Bank, as always, was quick to endorse the plan with country’s Bank Director comparing the pace of Ethiopia’s economic development to that of its athletes. China is all but secured exclusive rights to infrastructure and construction projects in Ethiopia. One thing that could have a potentially positive development is the talk about “privatizing” the Telecommunication Corporation – or “handing over the management” to a French company, albeit temporarily.

It is also encouraging that Mr. Espen Villanger, senior economist at the Ethiopian office of the World Bank, raised concerns about the troubling trend of women and young people’s unprecedented unemployment, adding the Bank need to exert more pressure on Ethiopia– to which Meles uncharacteristically responded “ we need to do more on this issue.”

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