Ethiopia defense minister breaks ranks with ally PM Abiy

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AFP

  • Ethiopia’s defence minister has criticised plans to transform the ruling coalition into a single party,
  • Analysts say the public split between the country’s most powerful ethnic Oromo politicians could increase political uncertainty ahead of the May polls

Abiy, himself an Oromo, came to power in April 2018 after more than two years of anti-government protests led by Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara. (AFP)

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia’s defence minister, a key ally of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has criticised plans to transform the ruling coalition into a single party, highlighting growing divisions ahead of planned 2020 elections.
Analysts say the public split between the country’s most powerful ethnic Oromo politicians could increase political uncertainty ahead of the May polls, and hinder Abiy’s reformist agenda.
In an interview with Voice of America’s Affan Oromo language service on Friday night, Defence Minister Lemma Megersa criticised the move to merge the coalition of ethno-regional parties which has ruled the country for three decades.
“I have had a different perspective from the beginning of the talks about the merger of EPRDF,” said Lemma, adding that “even if that is to happen it shouldn’t be done in a hurried way.”
Nobel Peace Laureate Abiy’s plans to transform the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) into one party have already been rejected by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) — the once dominant party of late strongman Meles Zenawi.
The three other parties last week voted to unite and form the Prosperity Party (PP), which Abiy hopes will heal ethnic divisions that have marred his rule, while critics say it will only deepen them.
Lemma also rejected Abiy’s philosophy “Medemer” (Amharic for synergy) which is aimed at uniting the country.
Lemma is a former president of Ethiopia’s largest and most populous regional state, Oromia and is currently vice chairman of the regional ruling party (ODP), with a large following in the region.
Abiy, himself an Oromo, came to power in April 2018 after more than two years of anti-government protests led by Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara.
Ethiopian analyst Abel Abate said the public break between the two men will likely add to political uncertainty in the country as it prepares to hold general elections next year.
“While the process to form PP out of the ashes of EPRDF has gone a considerable distance, it’s far from complete yet. This public disagreement could fatally injure plans to form PP”, he said.
Meanwhile, Horn of Africa analyst Rashid Abdi wrote on Twitter that Abiy was “in deep trouble” after being ditched by his “single most important pillar of Oromo support”.

2 Responses to Ethiopia defense minister breaks ranks with ally PM Abiy

  1. Leaving Obbo Lemma’s inviolable rights to differ intact in my book, in one way the news did not surprise me. What I found somewhat shocking was when this young man was removed from the head of the Oromia region to a cabinet position as a defense minister. That ‘transfer’ was a suspect to me. There must have been opposing ideas between him and the PM besides the wild and unfounded speculation of domination of major institutions of the country. Was he found out to be ‘radical’ endangering the region? What was it? But the reality on the ground has shown that bigots and rowdy mobs have had field days wreaking havoc in the region under the current leadership with loose lips. In other words removing Obbo Lemma from the top leadership did not further the accord. What I will hate to see next is his removal from his current position or his resignation from it. It will make me even sadder if he resigns and joins the ranks of grunge rockers and other ideologically uncomely groups. I pray for that not to happen!!!!

    Avatar for Ittu Aba Farda

    Ittu Aba Farda
    December 2, 2019 at 7:20 pm
    Reply

  2. I think you are right about Dr.lemma what you said is shading a light to me because when I heard about what he said I was shoked,disblive.Why is he against from the begining? And why he took a difense minister job ? He could say no to the job
    He has a right you know.

    Avatar for Elizabeth

    Elizabeth
    December 3, 2019 at 4:42 pm
    Reply

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