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One of the most anticipated EPRDF council meetings kicks off today in what is expected to be a milestone in the nation’s history. Members will begin the process of selecting a successor to Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn.
Although nothing is certain, it is likely that Ethiopia’s next Prime Minster will be selected from the four candidates all of whom lead their current ethnic based parties that make up the EPRDF coalition. They are Abiy Ahmed (PhD), a member of parliament who leads the OPDO, representing Oromia; Demeke Mekonnen, from the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), the second largest ethnic group in the country, Shiferaw Shigute from the Southern People’s Democratic Movement (SPDM) and Debretsion Gebremichael from Tigray peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF).
Recently OPDO replaced Lemma Megersa, who served as its chairman for two years after replacing Muktar Kedir.
Even though Lemma is enthusiastic, and has popular support, he was replaced by Abiy Ahmed (PhD), because thoughts were that he would be a more electable candidate for the PM’s slot. Lemma alluded to this during an interview with a local TV station.
No party has officially disclosed that they are interested in the premiership position, but many feel that electing someone from the Oromia region may help that group feel better represented and could alleviate some of the current problems facing the nation.
Some who are monitoring the situation say that there is not a common consensus among the decision makers in the ruling party and that there has been a power struggle for the PM position. They point to the vote over the state of emergency proclamation as a recent example because there were a significant number of no votes and abstentions. Political commentators add that the nation is at a crossroads and a wise decision must be made.
The EPRDF stated that the council meeting would consist of 45 representatives from each of the four ethnically based parties.