The 10th series of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) congress opened on Friday, August 28 at Mekele in the presence of senior party leaders. With no new faces anticipated in EPRDF leadership for the next term, the executive committee that leads the party is expected to remain intact.
The conference is crucial in signaling the directions and policies the party will take, and determines who will lead the party in the coming term. The conference will continue until Monday, August 31, according to the schedule.
At the opening session held on Friday morning, Hailemariam Dessalegn, the current Chairman of EPRDF, said the congress will evaluate the first Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), the guiding document which dictated a broad spectrum of nation building activities for the last five years, while the second GTP will be assessed.
Ethiopia’s development and governance strategy in the second GTP period is expected to dominate discussions at the party’s gathering. In his opening speech, the party chairman said that the first GTP was the beginning of the nation’s success and economic growth. “The past five years were a period in which we registered a double digit growth and achieved food security,” he said.
But Hailemariam acknowledged challenges such as rent seeking are still holding back the governing system, mainly in the urban areas.
The congress is largely closed to the media, with the exception of the opening and closing events. However, daily press briefings are held to inform the public of decisions made in the sessions. Previous EPRDF congresses were held in a more open fashion, with media and invited guests able to attend most of the meetings.
The ruling party receives directives from its congress that makes up the head of government. Leaders that will serve the party for the coming two year term are also elected by the congress.
The four EPRDF-affiliated national organizations: Tigrian People’s Liberation Front (TPLF,) the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM,) the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) and the Southern Ethiopia Peoples’ Democratic Movement (SEPDM) have elected their leaders in respective congresses that were held at Mekele, Bahir Dar, Adama and Hawassa, respectively before the Mekele convention.
However, some changes were observed at ANDM, OPDO and SEPDM meetings earlier in the week, where some senior leaders were seen off honorably.
Election results as expected
Individuals that are close to the party said that the current Chairman, Hailemariam, and his Deputy, Demeke Mekonnen, are likely to be re-elected. The congress will announce its chosen leaders over this weekend.
Reports indicate that the 12th TPLF congress has elected Abay Woldu and Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael to lead the national political organization as chairman and deputy chairman for the second term. While some new personalities are to join the nine-member executive committee. Getachew Assefa, Chief of Security; Dr. Addisalem Balema , Head of Ethiopian Commodity Exchange; and Fetlework Gebreegziabher, Chief of Financial Intelligence Center; have joined the TPLF and EPRDF executive committees.
Tirfu Kidanemariam, Tewodros Hagos and Gebremeskel Tareke are three former TPLF executives to be replaced by the new incoming members. While Beyene Mekru, Dr. Tewodros Adhanom, Alem Gebrewahid and Azeb Mesfin were reelected at the TPLF national congress which concluded on August 27.
At the Bahir Dar congress, ANDM have also replaced some of the executive members including veteran leaders. ANDM has elected Demeke Mekonnen and Gedu Andargachew as Chairman and Deputy Chairman for the second time. Bereket Simon, Advisor to the Prime Minister and one of the senior leaders in ANDM; Ayalew Gobeze, Ethiopian Ambassador to Turkey and a veteran party leader; and Tefera Deribew, Minister of Agriculture and one of the youngest leaders in the organization; have left executive committee of ANDM.
Kassa Teklebrehan, speaker of the previous House of Federations; Kebede Chane, Minister of Trade; and Tesfaye Getachew, Amhara region Trade and Industry Bureau Head have joined ANDM’s executive committee. Ahmed Abitew, Binalf Andualem, Dr. Ambachew Mekonnen and Alemnew Mekonnen were also reelected at the 11th organizational congress.
OPDO has also accepted the departure of two of its senior members from the executive committee. The PODO congress that closed on Wednesday at Adama approved the departure of Sufian Ahmed, the long serving Minister of Finance and Economic Development; and Abera Hailu.
Muktar Kedir and Aster Mamo were reelected to serve the party as Chairperson and Deputy Chair until the next congress. Beker Shale, Daba Debele and Bezu Wakbeka are new faces in the PODO leadership.
Other OPDO leaders namely, Workineh Gebeyehu, Diriba Kuma, Abdulaziz Mohammed, and Oumer Hussein were reelected at the 8th organizational congress.
At its 9th national congress, SEPDM has also elected nine executive committee members who will represent the party in the EPRDF executive committee.
EPRDF Chairman Hailemariam Desalegn was reelected to chair SEPDM in addition to his role as Chairman of EPRDF, while Shiferaw Shigute will remain Deputy Chairman, according to reports from SEPDM’s congress that ended on Tuesday August 25.
Dr. Shiferaw Teklemariam, Minister of Federal Affairs, and Alemayehu Assefa were replaced by Teklewold Atnafu, Governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia; and Melese Alemu, Vice president and Trade Bureau Head of SNNPR.
While Redwan Hussien, Mekuria Haile, Siraj Fagessa, Dessie Dalkie and Tesfaye Beljigie were reelected by the national congressg.