Since coming to power in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia has been praised for his wide-ranging liberalising reforms. In fact, he has already received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts as a peace maker. Many believe the award arrived a bit prematurely.
The PM’s introduction of liberal reforms in Ethiopia has led to many other problems. The domestic situation of the country has worsened due to the erosion of security. A lot of blood has been shed in many part of Ethiopia since PM Abiy came to power.
The referendum in the south of Ethiopia is being seen as a test of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s abilities to control the forces of ethnic nationalism, which have threatened to increase divisions within the country.
The other major problem he is facing is to do with the scuffle with the party up north concerning his move to abolish the structure of the four coalition parties that formed the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF, the ruling coalition) and to create unity party. The EPRDF consists of four political parties, namely Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), AmharaDemocratic Party (ADP), Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) and Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM). The TPLF strongly opposed the unity as the other three merged into one party.
On Thursday, 21 Nov, EPRDF approved the merger of three of its four ethnic-based parties into a single national one ahead of the 2020 elections. The TPLF boycotted the meeting and vote.
What will be the fate of TPLF now that the EPRDF council approved the merger? It is unclear at this point. But TPLF’s letter of last Wednesday stated that “TPLF’s fate can be determined in the organization’s congress after discussions at different levels of the party structure carried out.”
Last week, the party’s newspaper said, as reported by VOA Amharic that TPLF could create a “de facto state” since it has the capacity to form “all the necessary institutions of the state.”
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the decision to merge had been taken unanimously, as the dissenting members of the coalition were not in the room. He also announced that the new party would be called Prosperity Party.
Although the merger was initiated to build a democratic and inclusive system, the reality on the ground is different.
Contrary to the PM’s ‘medemer’ philosophy, which dwells on working and staying together, he has splintered the EPRDF coalition into two. As a result of PM’s daring move Ethiopia seems to be heading into uncharted territory. TPLF leaders have been talking for several months now that a secessionist sentiment is growing in Tigray.