Bereket Simon, Addisu Legesse and Tefera Walwa will not seek re-election
Time is up for another heavyweight from the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
Addisu Legesse, Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Chairman of the ruling front, will not run in the upcoming election. Last week, Capital reported that Bereket Simon, Minister at the Office of Government Communication Affairs; Tefera Walwa, Minister of Capacity Building; and Tsegaye Berhe, President of Tigray Regional State, will also not seek re-election.
Oromia Regional State will also have a new president as the current president Abadula Gemeda is running for federal parliament this time around.
Deputy Prime Minister, Addisu Legesse, is retiring from parliament this year, Capital has learnt.
The ruling EPRDF unveiled its parliamentary and regional candidates this week and the list does not include Addisu.
The deputy PM currently occupies a seat in the federal parliament representing Belessa constituency in Northern Gonder Zone of the Amhara region.
As deputy chairman of the ruling coalition and chairman of EPRDF member party, the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), Addisu is also a senior figure in the ruling party’s leadership.
The Deputy PM had filled the position in the executive for years and was also Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development until the October 2008 cabinet reshuffle.
Addisu kept his deputy PM position in the cabinet reshuffle that came in midterm, while party colleague Tefera Deribew became Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development. Tefera is running for the parliamentary seat in Denbia II, Northern Gonder Zone, Amhara Region.
Capital last week reported that Minister at the Office of Government Communication Affairs Bereket Simon and Minister of Capacity Building Tefera Walwa, all senior figures of the ANDM, are not running for re-election.
The move is said to be part of the succession plan devised by the EPRDF, which said it wants to bring a whole new leadership into both the party and the federal government in three phases if it wins the upcoming elections.
“It is to bring the new leaders on board, part of the succession plan. Some of us have spent over 30 years in politics. We have been in the government, both federal and regional, since the transitional period, so it is a long overdue to leave space for the upcoming ones,” Bereket Simon, one of the retirees, commented to Capital.
Other veteran figures, such as Minister of Trade and Industry Girma Birru and Minster of Finance and Economic Development Sufian Ahmed of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization, are however, seeking re-election for parliament seats.
Tsegaye Berhe, president of Tigray Regional State is another who is retiring. Oromia Regional State too will have a new president. The current president Abadula Gemeda is running in Hetosa constituency of the region for the federal parliament. A regional president needs to win a seat in a regional house to become the regional head, just as the PM needs to secure a seat in the federal parliament to be elected for nation’s top job.
The veteran TPLF Figure Abay Tsehaye is seeking re-election like party colleague, First Lady Azeb Mesfin, whose political influence has significantly increased in the past five years.
The first lady, who was elected for parliament for the first time in 2005, chairs the social affairs standing committee of the federal parliament.
Despite his wish to leave power after the 2010 poll, the EPRDF has decided for PM Meles Zenawi to stay in power until his retirement occurs among the last steps of the succession plan that should come at the end of the five year term that will start in September 2010 if the ruling front is re-elected.
According to Bereket, the decision for some to retire and others to seek re-election is simply following the succession plan and is not based on any political or other type of criteria.
Not having a parliamentary seat does not necessarily mean the EPRDF elite figures that are not running will not have a senior post in the federal government, such as a cabinet minister post. Currently Tefera Walwa, who did not win a seat in 2005, is Minister of Capacity Building. However party pundits say it is unlikely that the members will take on senior federal posts after leaving parliamentary seats.
Article 74/2 of the Constitution allows the PM to nominate cabinet ministers that are not members of the House of Peoples’ Representatives or House of Federation.
“It is too early to talk about cabinet posts, all options are open,” Bereket said.
Established in 1989, the EPRDF has won three consecutive polls since 1995. Among notable achievements for the front in the last 18 years of rule is double-digit economic growth in the past six consecutive years.
The nation’s previously very poor health and education coverage has now reached 89.6 percent and 95.6 percent respectively under the EPRDF.
The ruling party is seeking another five year term while the opposition says the EPRDF-led government has devised a pseudo-democratic system that fails to respect basic human and democratic rights.
The main opposition coalition, Medrek, vows to replace the EPRDF’s revolutionary democratic rule with liberal democratic ideals they say would result in much faster economic growth and fairer wealth distribution, alongside good governance and respect of basic rights.