Tuesday, May 21, 2019
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The paradigm shift of EPRDF and the quest for a new Oligarchy

By Sadik A. Hirsi

In 1991, TPLF accompanying by EPLF (Eritrean people’s liberation front) entered Addis Ababa and overthrown Military Junta (Derg). Ethiopian people’s revolutionary Democratic front was architected by former Marxist guerrilla fighter, Late Males Zanawi leading the joint venture of TPLF. He immediately negotiated divorce with EPL to leave from the country in 1993, Eretria left from Ethiopia.

Photo: Meeting picture of SDP Party with EPRDF at Addis Ababa (February, 2019)

Country is divided into nine federal regional states based on ethnicity demarcation by establishing them nine Political parts. He picked four regional states (Tigrai, Amahara , Oromia, and South people’s nations). He established four dominant ruling political parts; TPLF, ANDM, OPDO and SEPDM, respectively. Thus, they were merged into a coalition ruling party under EPRDF.

In consistency, he also established a pack up satellite parts (Gambela people’s Democratic Movement, Afar national Democratic Party, Benishangul-Gumuz people’s democratic unity front and Somali people’s Democratic Party) from the rest four regional states. The last ninth state whose population is thought confined to only one city, Harar. Anyway, established Hareri national league was not emphasized due to possessions of lower potential pack up influences.

These parts were labeled as supporters and kept as reserves if potential contest arises from outside political actors as happened in 1997 EC. Election, after a strong alien political party; CUD (Coalition Unity for Democratic Party) drastically challenged EPRDF. However, even though former architect Late Zenawe secured functionality of this political synthesis (formula eight), he had not won its sustainability. Thereafter, TPLF put its grip on the political machine of the country under the oversight of EPRDF by using operational manual of Machiavellian politics as a state doctrine.

They maneuvered a new political setting of what they called the “Number eight formula” by forging four political dominant parties (EPRDF)and other four recessive supporting parts(satellite parts) over the country’s political arrangement. This is emanated under the pretext of securing absolute majority rule. However, this political arrangement made the country’s population and regions divide in to two classes; rulers and followers, when it comes to regional development, service delivery of basic social services, infrastructures and the overall political representations.

They put in principle that any developmental and economic allocations will be 80 percent shared by among the four dominant tributary states of EPRDF-TPLF, while the rest 20 percent will be shared by among four affiliate states. Thereby all developmental projects have been focusing to those four dominant states. This arrangement widened the economic and political disparity of center (EPRDF) states and periphery (Satellites) states which finally created a country of paradoxical development trends (developed and underdeveloped). Hence, EPRDF led by TPLF partitioned the country and made unbalanced development meaning four developed states, and four underdeveloped states remaining Harar city constant.

Thus, this political stalemate made TPLF consolidate power swiftly over the first decade of post Derg era. It tactically payout a new federalism idea with semi-decentralization to public as alternative political administration in which many nations had been receptive and seen as God-given opportunity. It became a new innovation in which made them look different from the Derg regime. Some of those nations had never ever seen autonomous administration in the history of the country and were excited to buy-in. However, after TPLF consolidated the power, it has completely commanded over the whole issues EPRDF party. It neglected the implementation of guanine federalism. Let alone the affiliated parts, It had even transformed the very three tributary parts as puppets which were standing only as ceremonial. It completely registered an oligarchy rule over the country. Thanks to former brilliant dictator, late Zenawi who architected that skillful formula eight and managed to rule so with a 100 million country for thirty years either directly or indirectly.

History repeats by itself, as there is minimal diffused experience diffused from outside the party, on the same foot print, after EPRDF-OPDO overtook party leadership from EPRDF-TPLF, it has been advertising and campaigning that it would impose the country a real guanine democratic system, where economic and political rights would be exercised, transparency and accountability will be upheld and rule of low would be reactivated. People once again resumed a new hope for better governance participation and representation. However, immediately, after EPRDF-OPDO took over, it began a different road to consolidate the power, instead of moving the country towards forgiveness and reconciliation, it hastily cracking down all former administration actors remaining all over the federal and regional structures which was seen from country as a rush move. It is good to account former culprits, but these steps were mostly implemented in premature way and beyond the law margins of the country. For instance, regional border demarcation and dispute resolution was appointed without the knowledge of mandated body. Some local commentators pointed out as if ordinary House of Federation was usurped one of its power functions in which constitutionally vested on it, (OPDO)

As nationwide election is imminent to happen in the country, inclusive and participatory political road map was not crafted. Reconciliation of inter-states is not implemented. One year after, the incumbent seems opting to change and stop discharging its earlier incoming promises. Rather, it invented to get red off influences of the rest three tributary sisters parts of EPRDF by making them insignificance aids. Doing so, it declared inclusion of former four Satellite parts as an excuse for dismantling and minimizing the power sharing. This is an indicator of walking alone.

Once again, it seems that the country is falling down under one sub-party rule dominance. Expectation of democratic governance has already been eroded from Addis Ababa streets. Ethiopia as had been a country where political revelry groups always compete over the power and finally play each other a zero-sum game, EPRDF-OPDO’s one sub-party dominance rule is in the making. This will make of same roadmap of forging other new oligarchy and new struggle as TPLF todays stands a contemporary example in the countrywide. Furthermore, it seems as another play of Machiavellian game of win-loss strategy from the last public outrages which engendered the changes.

In my conclusion, there is competitive advantage deferential existed between the four dominant centers and the four peripheral states in terms of participation, development as well as the capacities. I recommend affiliated (satellites) parts not be cheap products to intermingle with former patient and dying EPRDF party, rather bargain on this critical moment about opportunity cost of being included or not. Historically, the regions representing by these affiliated parts had been neglected economically and developmentally and got zero sum price of being supporting EPRDF party for the last thirty years. In 1997, during the contested logger head election between EPRDF and former CUD, an opportunity of bargain was missed by affiliated parts, today an identical one is knocking their doors. Time will reveal how they would capitalize it.

Sadik A. Hirsi
Email: [email protected]
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Mr. Hirsi is a lecturer, Department of Agricultural Economics, Jijiga University.


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