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Merger of EPRDF Member and Associate Parties

Merger of EPRDF Member and Associate Parties

Yohannes Aberra, PhD 10-27-19

The hot taxonomy in the current Ethiopian politics is standing for and against the merger of the Front of the four independent parties (EPRDF) and other five associated with them. The enthusiasts of merger are apparently led by the PM and those against merger are allegedly led by TPLF.  Every time someone expresses doubt about the merger of the EPRDF he/she is readily thrown into TPLF’s “anti-merger box”. Even Obo Jawar Mohammed, one of the most independent thinkers, is already thrown into that box when he expressed his opposition to the merger basing himself on a scientific analysis (ethiotube).

In Ethiopia, nowadays, no one is allowed to make sense on its own without being branded as an echo of one political side or the other. It has become most convenient for half-baked politicians in Ethiopia, who have filled the political atmosphere, to blame the TPLF for every falling leaf instead of engaging in mature and impartial political analysis. They don’t want to toil in such political analysis because they know what their fans would love to hear from them: “four legged is good; two legged is bad”. For many “distant hill looked green” when Federal political power was in “the hands of the TPLF”. Every opposition politician, including the current leaders, must have felt that managing Ethiopia’s social, economic and political affairs is just like a piece of cake. That was why they carelessly or without second thoughts, overthrow TPLF letting hell loose by indiscriminately releasing prisoners and allowing all opposition groups and individuals to flood into the Country. They thought they were doing something that the “undemocratic” TPLF was unable to do! Even when they saw that they have inadvertently pulled out the “Gini from the bottle” which was kept systematically sealed by the TPLF, they never want to admit it.

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Is the solution to the chaos ending the Federal arrangement and the rule by coalition accusing it of causing the potential fragmentation of Ethiopia? Are single Country level parties the solution? The merger of the EPRDF member parties and their five associates has become a hot political agenda in Ethiopia. Many honestly feel that the merger of the Front including its other regional associates will help in pacifying Ethiopia. Desperate as the people of Ethiopia have become due to the persistent and rising violence allover Ethiopia, turning every stone to end the dangerously escalating violence is understandable. The problem is the politicians in Ethiopia are not coming together to talk about it and seek lasting solutions acceptable to everyone. They are busy confusing the people just for the sake of clearing their way to political power. I never heard of politicians being so unpatriotic.

If a single National party was the solution to the political-economic and social ills of Ethiopia why were parties like the TPLF, OLF, ONLF, SLF, ALF, etc. formed based on the principles of self-determination for nations and nationalities? If the unique political, economic, and social problems of Tigray, for instance, could be solved through a single party for all Ethiopia, why did EPRP fail so utterly and was reduced to an Amhara only party, unable to rally the rest of the nations and nationalities in Ethiopia behind it? This is analogous to forest management. It is customarily referred to as forest management but in reality it is tree management. You cannot have a healthy forest without healthy trees. The health of every tree is insured by focusing on the botanical uniqueness of every tree species. There is nothing like problem solving for a forest in general. If we are convinced that the prime point of departure of politics in Ethiopia is the self determination of nations and nationalities, politics has to start from below not from above. Like trees in a forest the problems of every individual nation and nationality must be addressed from their respective contexts rather than a broad umbrella approach which does not go deep enough.

Country level economic plans, led by a monolithic National party, will be based on feasibility studies which may neglect some resource poor distant regional states as unprofitable. A National party would go for a National GDP growth concentrating investment where returns can be maximized. Budget allocation will not be based on justice to improve the livelihoods of the nations and nationalities which contribute less to the National tax base. Every member of a monolithic National party is sworn in to respect and implement decisions of the party regardless of their importance to his/her home regional state. By the way, if elected a monolithic National party may have the mandate to modify or change the regional state boundaries by re-regionalizing based on the economic development planning dictates of the party. It is possible that the existing regionalization could give way to regionalization based on criteria other than the patterns of settlement of nations and nationalities. There is no way that the national regional economies can survive and thrive in the context of a central National development plans. Regional economies, with their own uniqueness, cannot be run without an appropriate regional political leadership and historically and culturally relevant institutions.

Hoping that Tigraian members of the monolithic National party will individually work for the development of their home national regional state would be futile. Tigray has already experienced that even within the context of the EPRDF let alone the EPRDF turned into a monolithic National party. When several TPLF leaders were assigned to Federal positions they were totally immersed in shaping the National economy of Ethiopia paying little attention to their home Region. Members of the TPLF, who fought for self determination of the Tigray Nation for 17 odd years, were lost in Addis Ababa. Individual members of the monolithic National party, be them Tigraians , Oromos, or Sidamas by origin, will have to strictly follow party discipline. They cannot form groups of Tigraians or Oromos within the party with the aim of working for their home regions. They would be accused of creating grouping or factions within the monolithic National party. The national regional states, if they are allowed to continue to exist, will be required to elect candidates which are hand-picked by the monolithic National party leadership.

Like during the Monarchy and the Military rule the people of Tigray will be ruled from a distance, by the whims and wills of the nationally elected monolithic National party. Derg’s Workers Party of Ethiopia was “elected” as a monolithic National party and it was assigning Tigraians who would accomplish its mission, like Mulugeta Hagos, or appointing Legesse Asfaw for direct control. By this, I don’t mean administrators from wherever outside the Region cannot become benevolent personally; but administrators that cannot be elected by a regional council cannot be effectively controlled.

What I have discussed above is what could happen after the merger of the EPRDF. My next point, which is more important and debatable, is the process of the formation of the monolithic National party by merging EPRDF member parties and their associates. The English translation for the Amharic word “Wuhdet” is “merger”. Merger in turn means “blending” and “combining”. The two have different meanings which make “Wuhdet” ambiguous. If “Wuhdet is intended to mean blending then it will be the parties as parties that blend. Here is the dictionary meaning of blending: 1. Mix ingredients so that the two do not readily separate e.g. butter and sugar; 2. Mix with other people or things without being conspicuous; 3. Mix fact and fiction; 4. Shade from one color to another without obvious boundaries; 5. Mix traditional styles and modern materials; and 6. Joining words to form a new word e.g. "telex," from "teleprinter" and "exchange". Very clear in the meaning of the word blending is mixing without eliminating the constituents of the mixture. Since the official statements made by those who uphold Wuhdet” refer to the “Wuhdet”  as the “Wuhdet” of the four front and five associated parties. The “Wuhdet”  is going to be the blending of the parties. 

Well! The question is, Is it technically possible to retain the identity of the parties in a new “blend” party? Would it be the same as cappuccino (a blend of milk and coffee topped with chocolate and cinnamon powders)? Although it is hard to separate the four constituents of the cappuccino their existence in the cappuccino is clearly visible. Is this possible in the new party? I mean TPLF, ODP, ADP, SPDM, and the others will not have clear boundaries but they exist as political entities? The truth behind the façade of claim to retain the Federal status quo (the self determination of nations and nationalities) in the context of the new National party is a PR campaign to persuade the parties to consent.

Since blending of the Front and associated parties of the EPRDF is impracticable in a single National party the only realistic merger can be combining. The dictionary meaning of “combining” is forming a single entity from one or more things. In chemistry a mixture is not the same as a compound. The constituents of the former retain much of their attributes.  Whereas those of the latter are completely lost into the new entity. You don’t have hydrogen and oxygen distinguishable in water. You can see it only in the formula (H2O). To get hydrogen and oxygen back costly and high-tech hydrolysis must be performed. The only way merger (combining) can be done for the EPRDF and associates is by merging the list of individual members of the parties. This can happen only after the parties are dissolved and disappeared. The members of the defunct parties will join the new party as individuals listed by alphabetical order, shedding the party programmes of their former parties, and swearing to be loyal to the programme of the new National party. The new National party will have its own anthem. It may be penalizing to sing “ዘይንድይቦ ጎቦ፣ዝይንሰገሮ ሩባ...” in the new National party.

The timing of the merger is the most critical issue. If it happens before the elections, all those regional governing councils and the Federal government itself will be illegitimate with all the grave implications emanating from it. The Country and the regions will either be ruled by a dictatorship, military or civilian, or be failed states teeming with warlords. Why would such a terrible thing happen? It starts from the elected parties to the regional and Federal governments in 2015. If the parties are dissolved to make way for the new National party their mandate to be governments in the regions and the Federal legislature and executive will also cease with the dissolution of the elected parties. As far as the Supreme Law of the Land is concerned nothing can replace them without election. The new party is yet to be elected in June. It has no mandate to continue the governments elected in 2015 in the absence the elected parties.

To me the best approach is to sincerely allow reconciliations within the EPRDF; include the associate parties in the Front; introduce radical reforms about governance and corruption in all parties; focus on bringing about harmony and mutual respect among the peoples of Ethiopia; be alert about external interference in the affairs of Ethiopia; depend on Ethiopians in Ethiopia for political support rather than succumbing to external pressure for dirty cash. Solutions to problems in Ethiopia should not be worse than the problems. It is unwise to jump from a frying pan into the fire

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