The reign of Abiy

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Different opinions have been observed after the coming of the highly anticipated Abiy Ahmed (PhD) as the chairperson of the ruling coalition, Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), about the future of Ethiopian political arena.
Most of the general public that Capital interviewed about the coming of Abiy felt it may have some change in the political and economic system of the country. The chairman, a hopeful for Premiership since the resignation of Hailemariam Dessalegn, had grabbed the attention of several individuals in the country because of his speeches on different occasions.
Residents of Addis Ababa Capital interviewed expressed their hope that things in the political system may be changed. But most of them preferred to see what would happen in the future rather than speculate at the current level. On the other hand a significant number of individuals stated that changes will never be seen in the ruling party. They said that they do not expect any change in the political system. The new Prime Minister that is expected to be sworn in during  tomorrow’s extraordinary session of the parliament will not have any different mission than the outgoing PM, they say.
“The party is the same that will be never changed by individual change at the top,” one person said.
The skeptics say the issue of good governance and a wide democratic system will never occur via  the change of an individual.
Demeke Mekonnen, Chairman of ANDM & deputy PM told media on Saturday March 31, that he withdrew from the race for premiership purposely to make way for a new face. Demeke will remain in his position as deputy PM.
The ruling organization, a coalition of four ethnic based parties Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), Oromo People Democratic Organization (OPDO), Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), and Southern Ethiopia Peoples’ Democratic Movement (SEPDM), that came to power in 1991 after the overthrow of the Derg, and has been led by two leaders including Hailemariam, who served as head of the coalition and government for five years.
The time under Hailemariam’s leadership was not stable, mainly the past three years has been a critical time of the country.
The ruling party has also admitted that it is a source of the problem and stated that it would undertake several reforms including widening political space and solving the governance issues. However the instabilities have occurred on different occasions, including during celebration of public festivals and gatherings.
In the first three national elections in 1995, 2000 and 2005 the movement opposition parties and multiparty system including grabbing seats at the parliament has been relatively better than the last two national elections when the ruling party controlled all seats at the parliament with its regional affiliates. The incident has been criticized by different actors including the international community. Members of the opposition have claimed that democracy has deteriorated and their leaders and members were arrested for their political stand.
The unrest that occurred on different occasions and times have pushed the outgoing PM to resign from the post. He said that he wanted to be part of the reform by leaving the position. It has been speculated that the three of from the four ethnic based parties would take over the leadership of the party excluding the Tigray leader. Late Tuesday the coalition announced that the central committee which has 45 members each  from the four parties of the coalition  elected Abiy, 41, on a secret ballot.
During his Wednesday press conference Shiferaw Shigute, Secretariat of EPRDF, declined to give details about the nominees and number of votes including who got what. Different media outlets stated that Abiy received 108 votes. The second nominee Shiferaw, who was elected as a chairperson for the southern party by replacing Hailemariam, secured 59 votes and the unexpected nominee, Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), chair of the Tigray party, got two votes.
One of the other highly anticipated potentials, Demeke Mekonnen of the Amhara party did not take part in the bid for the chairmanship.
For the last 27 years leaders from TPLF and SEPDM ruled the coalition, while it is the first time for OPDO.
After the decree of the second state of emergency in mid-February Workneh Gebeyehu (PhD), Minister of Foreign Affairs, told the diplomatic community based in Ethiopia that the state of emergency that several major western allies and members of the parliament criticized would be lifted immediately after the coming of the new PM.