ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Next year Ethiopians will go to the polls once again and the political maneuvering has already started. Following the election, Ethiopian parliament will also choose the next Prime Minister to serve for the next four years.
On different interviews he gave to international and local Medias, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi kept on saying he wants to leave office at the next election, but is up to his party to make the final decision.
Even some speculations went further to guessing individuals who have the potential of replacing him. Girma Biru, the now Minister of Trade and Industry and Dr. Tewodros Adhanom, Minister of Health are among those pointed out as possible candidates in the party. others this reporter interviewed also said Arkebe Equbai, State Minister for Ministry of Works and Urban Development could have the chance to be the next Prime Minister, if Meles decides to step down.
But still people seem not to believe that Meles would actually leave his position at this time and his interviews to the media is only an election strategy of the incumbent Ethiopian People Representatives Democratic Front (EPRDF).
“Meles knows that Ethiopians want to see new faces and he is giving people an empty hope for the sake of the election,” says a journalist who wants to remain anonymous.
However, no matter how much Ethiopians need to see new faces, through a small survey SSI took, it turned out that people either need Meles to continue with his Prime Minister position or don’t believe there is no one to replace him so he has to continue.
“I think Meles will be elected as a Prime Minister in the 2010 election because there is no one in EPRDF prepared to take over,” says a 31 years old manager working for an NGO.
“Even if he steps down, he will remain active behind the scene.”
“I don’t think Meles will leave office before he sees some of his political, economic and social agendas get some fruit,” is a comment from a 25 years old development consultant.
The consultant believes most of the on gong projects of the ruling party are ‘brain children’ of the Prime Minister and he wants to see them get somewhere.
Almost all people we interviewed believe Meles is the only experienced and talented individual in EPRDF to lead this country. They think if the party takes power again without Meles, the country will suffer.
For the first time in the nation’s history, a new bill is tabled before the parliament detaining the rights and benefits for former government officials, including the Prime Minister giving hope for some parliament members and oppositions that peaceful transfer can actually happen.
Some critics on the other hand indicate that this new bill may speculate on Meles’s future position that he might actually be thinking to retire from his office.
Some of our interviewees also speculate the possibility but still are reserved to think Meles could actually step down.
“It is hard to say,” was the immediate response of one of our respondent. “The bill doesn’t guarantee that the Prime Minister has enough.”
Another respondent, a journalist herself says not only has Meles served his post for long time but there are other Ministers who stayed in the party’s and government’s position for the last 18 years.
“The bill could be to take down those ministers and bring new faces to the party. But I don’t think it would get to the Prime Minister.”
In terms of the party’s performance as well, people think Meles’s absence would actually create a gap and say Meles has to stay on for the sake of both his party and the country.
The election is in few months and the last decision of EPRDF wether to keep Meles as the Prime Minister or not is to be seen in the near future. But the real desire for new face as head of state may not be a reality in the near future.
By Simegnish Yekoye | (SSinformer)
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