September 8, 2012

Ethiopia’s ruling party delays appointment of new premier

Ethiopia’s ruling party delays appointment of new premier

Addis Ababa | Ethiopia’s ruling party, Ethiopian People Democratic Front (EPRDF) has delayed the appointment of a new party chief and prime minister. EPRDF executive council members in their closed-door meeting on Tuesday disagreed on the election procedures for the appointment of new leader.

The delay posed unexpected internal political tension and power squabbling among the ruling elite. Late leader Meles Zenawi was died in hospital on August 20, 2012. On August 21, in its meeting the Ministers’ Council (Cabinet) endorsed Mr Hailemariam Desalegn as an acting prime minister but in Tuesday’s meeting, the ruling party contradicted the earlier decision of the Cabinet.

The Cabinet has already announced Mr Hailemariam as an acting “prime minister” and he should be sworn by parliament.
But, the EPRDF executive council has called a new meeting scheduled for next week to elect a party chief and the prime minister, in a bigger party meeting.

“Within those who are in a struggle of a common goal, the instalment of leadership is an easy issue as it is simply assigning a comrade who would pay huge sacrifices… and rather the focus should be on our respective duties” a statement of the party reads.

In the coming session, the bigger leadership of 60 members of the EPRDF council will elect the party chief and prime minister of Ethiopia.

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The late PM Meles was also the chairman of the ruling party and chairman of EPRDF as well as Tigrian People Liberation Front (TPLF) one of the four coalition members of EPRDF.

Close party sources said the appointment of Mr Hailemariam is crucial for the unity of Ethiopian powerful ruling party, which has more than five million members. “He will be the next prime minister of the country , no doubt on that. We were in concensus-building and most of the debates were procedural than political differences’’ party officials told the Nation.

“I don’t agree with the media speculations about EPRDF division on appointment of the new leader. We are strong and united than ever” he added. Further delay of naming Mr Hailemariam party chief exposed the growing internal power struggle among the four ethnic based members of the ruling party coalition: Amhara, Tigray, Oromo and Southern people.

The oldest and most powerful member of the coalition and core party of the late Meles, the Tigrian People Liberation Front (TPLF) is in a defensive position to maintain its 21 years security and economic dominance. Mr Hailemariam represents southern part of the country and was promoted in 2010 by the late Meles who is from the small Wolyta ethnic group.

Oromo and Amhara parties of the ruling party demand the end of Tigrians’ 21 years dominance in politics. After EPRDF endorses its candidate for premiership, parliament will install the new leader.

By ARGAW ASHINE NATION Correspondent

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