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Lemma Megersa, Ethiopian Defense Minister, terminated from party position

The Prosperity Party branch of Oromo regional state of Ethiopia removed Lemma Megersa and Teyba Hassen from executive position

Lemma Megersa ( Photo : SM)

The Prosperity Party branch in the Oromo region of Ethiopia reportedly suspended Lemma Megersa from his position of the executive committee.

The decision came following a party evaluation in the past two days which was led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The evaluative meeting was closed one; journalists were not allowed to cover it.

Head of the region’s Prosperity Party branch, Fikadu Tesema, who spoke to Oromia Broadcasting Network regarding the meeting, said Lemma Megersa was removed from his position for “failure to discharge the responsibility.”

Apart from Lemma, Teyba Hassen, also executive committee member, and Milkessa Midega who was central committee member of the party are removed from their position on similar grounds; failure to discharge responsibility. 

Fekadu Tessema told the local media in the region that those whose suspension is disclosed on Sunday “could return to their positions whenever they are ready to serve to the extent of their responsibility.”

Lemma Megerssa has been serving as the Minister of Defense. And it is unclear if the Prosperity Party is removing him from his ministerial position as well.

Teyba Hassen (photo : SM)

Teyba Hassen has served in the past as the Mayor of Sashemene, a city that was ravaged by radical ethnic Oromo youth groups in early July of this year, until Lemma Megerssa picked her as the vice-president of Oromo regional state following the reform movement for which he was believed to be one of the leaders.

Rumor on social media has it that the Oromo region Branch of Prosperity Party is on the verge of a split over ideological line. Some espouse radical ethnic Oromo nationalism – an ideology that is said to be among the reasons for the massacre of over 240 people. Over one thousand residential houses and hundreds of businesses were also burned in multiple cities like Shashemene, Ziway, Batu, and Arsi Negele, among others.

Dozens of Security and administrative officials in the region were arrested following the massacre for failing to defend the lives and properties of thousands of non-Oromo Ethiopians living in the region. In Shashemene, Meron Tesfaye who was in her ninth month of pregnancy was forced to be nude after a mob broke into her residence and beheaded her only because the killers believed that “Amhara baby will not be born.”

The Oromo region Prosperity Party did not say if the “failure to discharge responsibility” of removed leaders is linked to what many Ethiopians believe to be an ethnic cleansing crime committed in July of this year.

News of Lemma’s purge from the party came a day after leaked audio from Oromo regional state meeting unveiled plans of Oromo regional state leaders to Oromize Ethiopia at the expense of the rest of Ethiopians.

Lemma Megerssa and Abiy Ahmed: from political allies to foe

They were among the leaders of the reform movement that, in coalition with members of what was then called Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), brought the Tigray People’s Liberation Front control for the Federal government to an end. in fact, the reform leaders in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, including Abiy Ahmed, were known as Team Lemma to signify that Lemma was the leader of the movement.

As members of the former Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and five other support parties in the regions merged to form a single party, Prosperity Party, the difference between Abiy Ahmed and his former boss Lemma Megersa came to the surface.

In November 2019, Lemma Megersa declared his difference when he appeared on VOA Amharic. Figures with leverage of Political patronage within what was the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (later Oromo Democratic Party) managed to contain the difference so that it would not cause a roadblock to the reform movement.

As it turns out, the mediation effort did not bring about a lasting solution to the former allies. Lemma is believed to have teamed up, as rumor had it, with the radical ethnic-Oromo politicians whose political ideology contains a great deal of hate.

The political differences between the moderate and the radical ones have now become along which the struggle for power between the Oromo elites are fought.

The radical group has a network, both with the regional government structure and outside of it, to wreak havoc in the region by exploiting radicalized ethnic Oromo youth, Qeerroo, against non-Oromo.

The moderate Oromo group which is now the creme de la creme of the Federal government, including the Prime Minister, on the other hand, seems to have an interest, based on their stated stand, to enforce the rule of law in the region.

“No one is above Ethiopia,” the Prime Minister declared during his appearance in the parliament last month, which remains to be seen in the months to come.


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