The resignation of Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has triggered an upheaval in the already disturbed politics of the nation. The country has been in the grip of mass anti-government protests for many years. The resignation was followed by a state of emergency which further pushed the country into a state of political uncertainty. The ruling party Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) is looking for the successor.
The Chairman of the ruling party has always taken the role of the Prime Minister in the country and the vacuum created by the resignation has more to it than merely need for a change of guard. The country has been facing massive uprisings and people are now looking for a fundamental change in the governance which will be inclusive and widespread. Ethiopians are wanting greater political reforms.
Hailemariam has come to power in 2012 after the death of his predecessor Meles Zenawi. There is an apparent ethnic angle to the decision of the next PM. The Oromo comprise more than 34 percent of the population of the country have always complained about an evident political and economic exclusion. The Oromo protestors thus demand to have greater representation at the national level.
EPRDF is basically composed of four different political parties which are separated by ethnics lines. They are Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organisation (OPDO), the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM). EPRDF has brought about a centralised system which took hierarchial decisions which were later communicated to the masses. The coalition also gave local/regional decision-making powers to the recently formed regional governments. Latter was also divided into ethnic lines. It was the control of regional courts, universities, agricultural bureaus which decentralized the politics of the nation.
There has been rising discontent about the dominance of Tigrayan party in the ruling coalition even though Tigrayan people form only 6 percent of the national population. EPRDF will soon meet to take the final decision on the resignation of the PM and to select a new leader. An Oromo PM will be historic and will be an example of Ethiopia’s religious diversity. The government should allow participation of opposition parties in a snap election and form a new transitional government before the elections are held in 2020. Alternately, a national and all-inclusive dialogue can also have a lasting impact as it will increase the credibility of the government to be looking forward to a genuine change.
Contrastingly, if there is only a change at the top-most position, it will not be surprising to see another revolt in the country.