Ethiopia defense minister breaks ranks with ally PM Abiy

Abiy, himself an Oromo, came to power in April 2018 after more than two years of anti-government protests led by Ethiopia's two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara. (AFP)
Updated 01 December 2019

Ethiopia defense minister breaks ranks with ally PM Abiy

  • Ethiopia's defence minister has criticised plans to transform the ruling coalition into a single party,
  • Analysts say the public split between the country's most powerful ethnic Oromo politicians could increase political uncertainty ahead of the May polls

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia's defence minister, a key ally of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has criticised plans to transform the ruling coalition into a single party, highlighting growing divisions ahead of planned 2020 elections.
Analysts say the public split between the country's most powerful ethnic Oromo politicians could increase political uncertainty ahead of the May polls, and hinder Abiy's reformist agenda.
In an interview with Voice of America's Affan Oromo language service on Friday night, Defence Minister Lemma Megersa criticised the move to merge the coalition of ethno-regional parties which has ruled the country for three decades.
"I have had a different perspective from the beginning of the talks about the merger of EPRDF," said Lemma, adding that "even if that is to happen it shouldn't be done in a hurried way."
Nobel Peace Laureate Abiy's plans to transform the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) into one party have already been rejected by the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) -- the once dominant party of late strongman Meles Zenawi.
The three other parties last week voted to unite and form the Prosperity Party (PP), which Abiy hopes will heal ethnic divisions that have marred his rule, while critics say it will only deepen them.
Lemma also rejected Abiy's philosophy "Medemer" (Amharic for synergy) which is aimed at uniting the country.
Lemma is a former president of Ethiopia's largest and most populous regional state, Oromia and is currently vice chairman of the regional ruling party (ODP), with a large following in the region.
Abiy, himself an Oromo, came to power in April 2018 after more than two years of anti-government protests led by Ethiopia's two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara.
Ethiopian analyst Abel Abate said the public break between the two men will likely add to political uncertainty in the country as it prepares to hold general elections next year.
"While the process to form PP out of the ashes of EPRDF has gone a considerable distance, it's far from complete yet. This public disagreement could fatally injure plans to form PP", he said.
Meanwhile, Horn of Africa analyst Rashid Abdi wrote on Twitter that Abiy was "in deep trouble" after being ditched by his "single most important pillar of Oromo support".


OIC rights body condemns India’s new Kashmir domicile law

Updated 30 min 44 sec ago

OIC rights body condemns India’s new Kashmir domicile law

  • New rules allow Indian citizens to become permanent residents in Indian-administered Kashmir
  • Says India must let Kashmiris exercise right to self-determination

LAHORE: The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission, an advisory body of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said on Friday it condemned India’s new domicile laws-- calling them “draconian” and a “violation” of international and humanitarian laws.
On Wednesday, Delhi announced new controversial rules for Indian citizens residing in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. The rules have come eight months after the territory’s special legal status was abrogated by the Indian parliament amid international uproar. As part of the new laws, any Indian citizen who has lived in the Indian-administered territory for 15 years can call Jammu & Kashmir their place of domicile or permanent residency.
In a series of Twitter posts, the rights body said it condemned the promulgation of the reorganization law by India, and called it “an attempt to alter demographic and geographic status” of the territory.
India must put an end to human rights abuses and let Kashmiris exercise their right to self determination, the OIC body said, and criticized the act for being draconian and violating international human rights laws, including those of the Geneva convention, the OIC and the United Nations.
Pakistan has consistently called on India to end its strict communication blockade in the valley and to ensure essential supplies can reach Kashmiris during a rising covid-19 outbreak in the region.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly condemned the new Indian domicile law as illegal and said the timing of the act amid the pandemic was reprehensible.