Standard – Governing Ethiopia People’s Revolutionary and Democratic Front (EPRDF) faces an uncertain future following the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

Ethnicity, as ever, is going to determine who takes over the reins of power.


A week after Zenawi’s death was made public, the scramble for power has intensified with the members of the politburo of EPRDF said to be slugging it out, pointing to an imminent political turbulence or even a falling out.

At the centre of the ensuing power struggle is acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, his predecessor at the Foreign ministry and ambassador to China Seyoum Mesfin and Zenawi’s widow Azeb Mesfin, who had been tearing into each other long before the fallen Prime Minister became indisposed.

There are also prominent political figures in the governing party Zenawi had suppressed as he maintained a stronghold on power.

Smooth transition

Although the Mr Desalegn’s ascent to power last week was almost smooth, political embers have been smouldering in Zenawi’s faction of the EPRDF, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which has also seen Berhane Gabrecriticos, Dr Towdros Andenhom, Neway Gebraan and Azeb Mesfin, all members of the governing politburo, join the fray to succeed Zenawi.

The other political parties that make up EPRDF are: Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO), Ahmara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and The Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ (SNNP) party. ANDM and OPDO are the majority, while SNNP is a recent addition to the coalition.

Zenawi’s widow, Mesfin, who is a member of the executive committee of the TPLF contested and won a parliamentary seat in the north during the controversial 2010 elections as means of positioning herself to succeed her husband.

Zenawi’s succession has always been a thorny issue. According to Dr Ododa Opiyo, infighting in Zenawi’s government had on several occasions threatened to bring the regime down as number of disgruntled allies grew.

Dr Opiyo, an expert on Horn of African conflicts and politics, says even before he died, Zenawi had often worried about ouster.

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