Views on EPRDF’s journey from ‘Coalition’ to ‘Union’

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It is a recent phenomenon when ethnic-based conflicts, observed in the contemporary Ethiopia, became a reason for the threat entrenched between peoples fused with flesh and blood for centuries. For the past 27 years, the language-based ethnic federalism, including the Constitution, is believed to be the source of all problems.

Obviously, the government also shares that the major security threat for Ethiopia at this time is ethnic politics, which was led by the Ethiopian Peoples Revolution Democratic Front (EPRDF), for the last three decades. As highlighted in the conference held in Hawassa last year, the proposed union of the four coalition parties that form the ruling EPRDF and its alliances aimed at bringing a solution to the ongoing crisis.

As defined in the revised political parties’ registration proclamation No. 573/2008, ‘Union’ means a political party established as a result of a union effected between two or more parties registered in accordance with the appropriate law. The proclamation also defines ‘Front’ as an organization formed by two or more political parties decided to have a common name, political program and by law without prejudicing each constituent party’s individual legal existence.

Thus, when we talk about the union of EPRDF member parties, it means that both the coalition and the alliance will completely demolish themselves, submit their badges and stamps to the Electoral Board; and their members will directly be members of the new national party. In the forum he often presides, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) gives hint about the going process towards the union; this indicates that his party takes the seriousness of the matter. He always underscores the importance of forming a strong national party.

As to him, efforts are underway to create a system, in which all Ethiopians will have equal right to decide, and to be heard. In fact, made up of four regional political parties, the EPRDF is serving as long as a national party passed through several ups and downs. Since the parties have similar programs and working together in development, democracy and peace, there will be nothing to prevent them from making union as a single national party.

Not just the four parties, but also the other alliances have repeatedly requested for the union. The appeal towards moving the EPRDF from ‘Front’ to ‘Party’ level has grabbed the attention of many politicians and other concerned bodies. Of course, there is speculation that member parties in the EPRDF have different stances regarding the formation of union.

Consequently, the question ‘will the union be possible at this time?’ is being raised among different segments of the society also. Perhaps, the EPRDF won’t see this as a difference since it has lots of experience in dealing with various arguments and controversies.

Enduring as pioneer for three decades; the EPRDF has joined with some of the world’s largest political parties still holding power as a Front. Obviously, the EPRDF is mainly composed of four coalition parties – the TPLF, the ADP, the ODP, SEPDM – and the alliance parties drawn from Benishangul-Gumuz, Harari, Gambella, Somali and Afar regional states.

When putting into practice, the union will address the problem in relation to the nomenclature ‘alliance’ that limits the right of the people to own power. The Somali State is the forerunner to show support after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced his stance in this regard.

The union of EPRDF will redress the claim why ethnic-based approach is used instead of proclaiming genius of thought which had no value in the EPRDF before. There should be a system that shall entertain several thoughts with intellectual intent; and decisions must be made regardless of ethical divisions.

According to Mustefa, the current approach to make union is aimed at addressing issues raised in this regard. Just as Prime Minister Abiy has raised it on various forums, the new EPRDF’s proposed union will be a party of all members either in the coalition or in the alliance side.

Since the merging of these coalition and alliance parties shall proceed after passing intense debate and discussion, it will surely be able to accommodate thoughts of individual members in the union and will able to ensure mutual benefits, Mustafa believes.

While the EPRDF’s union is now nearing its final chapter, it receives warm welcome from the masses; despite there are some casualties on the contrary.

As to him, those who were dominant in the past worries that they shall be swallowed by others; while the oppressed ones hoped for approaching at the forefront.

Since every state has its own autonomy in the federal system, those who support the idea will help them climb up if they win by ideals and thoughts. It is common for people to stumble up a journey towards a greater chapter, thinking of the benefits that they may lose. It doesn’t surprise if there would be objections from these parties, Mustefa believes.

Indeed, the move that has now begun to bring the front into the party will be a pledge to ensure the rights of the people, especially those set aside by the designation known as ‘alliance’.

The Ethiopian Herald October 19, 2019

 BY ZELALEM GIRMA