BEYOND THE HORIZON

In less than one year’s time, the Ethiopian political landscape will significantly differ from what it is today.

1. In Oromia, OPDO’s team Lemma and Abiy will face off with a formidable Oromo Federalist Congress (lining up such revolutionary luminaries as Bekele Garba, Dr. Merrara Gudina, and Jawar Mohamed). By every objective criteria, OPDO is an underdog and Dr. Abiy Ahmed and Lemma Megersa will have to do what would amount to a political miracle to win (in a free and fair elections).

2. In Amhara region, Amhara region President Gedu Andhargachaw and Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen will meet the challenge of the just formed Amhara National Movement (ANM) led by Dr. Chane. (I think the new party only looked at its Amharic acronym which reads ABIN and did not see that it is English acronym is very close to its competitor, the ruling ANDM which is also part of EPRDF).

3. In Tigray region, TPLF will no longer count on Tigrayan support. Abraham Desta, chairman of Arena Tigray, has already understood that and for the last three months ditched populist pan-Ethiopian political activism and is now adopting pro-Tigrayan hardline position to win over TPLF base. He is clever and many have underestimated him.

4. In Somali Region, the ruling Ethiopian Somali People Democratic Party and with an extremely poor human resource in terms of intellect and character will square off with former rebel ONLF. There can only be one outcome!

All of these scenarios are not given. The next one year will be a sort of undeclared transition period. In this period, alliances and horse-trading will be the new norm and parties that attract heavy-weights and adopt pro-people policies will have a starting advantage during the elections.

Ruling parties must show they are different from what they were in the last 27 years (and that can only happen if they hijack some agendas from the opposition) if they have to survive. In this turbulent times of revolution, there is no advantage of incumbency. The contrary is true: there is a disadvantage in being labelled “remnants of the old regime”.

But it won’t be a plain sail for opposition parties too. Once the ruling parties start doing what the opposition parties say they want to do, a confused and apathetic electorate may decide there is no need for a change. Some in the opposition parties may also be lured by the goodies of power if the ruling parties offer them positions, which can weaken the opposition parties.

A corollary to this may be an emergence of some sort of “detente” between the erstwhile ruling parties (this time reformed) and the regional opposition parties (like Ginbot 7, OLF, ONLF)  start to challenge both the ruling parties and the “domestic” opposition parties such as ANM, OFC, and SRAJ (which is yet to be domestic). This scenario is very likely given that the ideological difference between the ruling and the “domestic” opposition parties may significantly narrow if they agree on a common program and vision.

If the ruling parties don’t implement serious reforms, domestic and ex-armed parties will unite and will challenge the ruling party.

If you don’t see this coming, you are a fool, a lousy politician, or simply not interested.