EPRDF Agrees to Form a United National Party; TPLF Dissents

By Staff Reporter

EPRDF-Move-United-PartyNovember 14, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- Three of the four founding member political parties of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) have approved a study document to form a united national party. The Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the fourth and founding party of the EPRDF, has dissented.

EPRDF’s Political Parties and Civic Affairs Head Fikadu Tessema on Thursday told local news media that the central committees of the three-member parties of the coalition party, namely the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), the Amhara Democratic Party (ADP), and the South Ethiopian Peoples Democratic Movement (SEPDM) have all endorsed the document stating the way forward on forming a united national party.

According to the head, the TPLF did not endorse the document yet while allied political parties of the EPRDF have confirmed to join the proposed united national party. The EPRDF affiliate parties are other regional parties not normally within the EPRDF proper but work with it, including the Ethiopian Somali People's Democratic Party (ESPDP), Afar National Democratic Party (ANDP), and Gambela People's Democratic Movement (GPDM).

The formation of a united national party is on progress based on the direction set during the 11th organizational conference of EPRDF held in Hawassa, the capital of the South Nations and Nationalities People state of Ethiopia three years ago.

“No political party has rejected and confronted the move towards forming the united national party. The issue of forming a united political party was unanimously approved during the coalition’s 11th organizational conference,” Fikadu Tessema said

The Chairpersons and Deputy Chairpersons of all member parties commented on the study document. That was followed by deliberation among executive and central committee members of all member parties of the EPRDF over the document.

“TPLF’s refusal towards forming a united national party does not have legal ground unless otherwise the party leaders wrongly believe their upper hand role should prevail, Fikadu said. So far, the TPLF has not disclosed any reason why it opposes the proposed unified party, except calling the move 'illegal.'

The affiliate political parties have, however, once again filed complaints that the retiring EPRDF has not been inclusive enough, forcing them to implement decisions they were not involved in.

The presidents of the affiliate parties hope that the proposed united national party would ensure fair and equal participation over national issues and speed up the formation of genuine federalism in Ethiopia.

 “The transformation of EPRDF to a national party will pave the way for any fellow citizen who is capable to lead the country and serve this great nation in any position including the Office of the Prime Minister,” Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed had said earlier this year.

Some regional parties have doubts that becoming a single party might undermine the rights of minority nations, nationalities, and peoples of Ethiopia, including their right to exercise self-administration. According to some politicians, forming a national party would reject article 39 of the constitution which states the right to self-administration up to secession.

However, many Ethiopians welcome the move away from the prevailing ethinic-based political system, which they blame for Ethiopia's ills, including ethnic clashes and border disputes that are also becoming religious conflicts at times. The TPLF, which has been the dominant organization for a quarter of a century inside the EPRDF, is heavily criticized by many for championing ethnic-based identity and politics that has put the unity and stability of the country at great risk.

Ethiopia is one of a few countries in the world where politics is heavily dominated by regional parties and the role of truly national parties is either small to non-existent. The move to form domant national parties aims to change that landscape. However, it remains to be seen whether the new successor party to EPRDF will be a truly citizen-based party or one dominated by a certain ethnic group.

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