Bereket Simon presents an electoral reform white paper, Abay Woldu and Azeb Mesfin oppose it: AF

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11-4-2017

The following piece of report has been taken from Addis Fortune weekly newspaper’s Sunday April 9, 2017 gossip corridor. 

The results of the last national elections have no doubt undermined the hopes for competitive multiparty democracy in Ethiopia. Not even the staunch supporters of the EPRDFites have the courage to stand in defence of it, while no fewer number of its leaders are embarrassed with the kind of legislative bodies the results led in creating, gossip observed. Although it may sound antithetical to their aspiration of gaining political hegemony, many of them wish not to see it repeated, claims gossip.

If anything, the Revolutionary Democrats controlling 100pc of the seats in the federal parliament and regional councils is a symptom of what is dysfunctional in the political system that needed to get fixed, claims gossip. A fix is what the Revolutionary Democrats are wrestling with in their own way, however awkward, gossip says.

A committee of three was formed a few months ago to table a white paper on a crucial and fundamental issue of the time – electoral reforms – to the decision of the central committee of the EPRDF, gossip disclosed. It is chaired by Bereket Simon, the principal architect of the party’s electoral politics, particularly during the 2005 national elections, the most contested ever, claims gossip.

Bereket presented the paper to members of the executive committee two weeks ago, where there was an animated debate on its substance, gossip revealed.

Mostly, the paper wants to see an electoral reform to introduce a “proportional representation” electoral system to be exercised alongside “first-past-the-post” regime that has been in place since 1995, says gossip. The hybrid system is to be implemented, with the proportional system introduced in the four main regions of Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and the South, gossip disclosed.

The interesting politics is evident in the responses to the proposition than the actual substance of the paper, claims gossip. Bereket won overwhelming support from central committee members who come from the SEPDF, including its chairman, Hailemariam Desalegn, as those from the OPDO were seen as indifferent as it could get, revealed gossip.

The strongest opposition came from Bereket’s own party, the ANDM, and leaders of the TPLF, gossip disclosed. The most vocal in opposition were Abay Woldu, chairman of the TPLF, and Azeb Mesfin, its political bureau member, gossip revealed.

Many may have resisted the proposal because they believed Bereket does not have “cause celebre” in his agenda for electoral reform, says gossip. Electoral reforms were the same agenda, which was pledged to the public by President Mulatu Teshome (PhD) back in October 2016, before the EPRDF’s central committee discussed and agreed on it, gossip claims.

The main contention of the opponents is that in the absence of widening the political space, throwing freebies to the political opposition in giving up a number of seats won’t bring substantive changes, claims gossip. The scope of “widening the political space” various from a politician to another, however, gossip claims.

Those who believe that it is to the best interest of the EPRDF to see elections are fair in their process and credible in their results are in the hapless minority, gossip says. Fixing should not be about surrendering a certain percentage of seats in parliament to the opposition, they would argue. It is about letting them operate at large; limit the ruling party from using state resources at will; and allowing institutions such as the public media, electoral board, law enforcement, and the judiciary conduct their business impartial of political bias, they contend.

True to their tradition, the EPRDFites have not rejected Bereket’s paper flat out, gossip disclosed. But it has suffered a major setback, whose resurrection appears remote considering a current loss of unity of purpose among the Revolutionary Democrats, gossip claims.

Source: http://addisfortune.net/columns/the-results-of-the-last-national-elections-have-no-doubt-undermined/