Revolutionary Democracy Is Passé to Ethiopia's Ruling Party


(Bloomberg) -- Ethiopia’s ruling coalition plans to restructure and amend decision-making to become more democratic as it prepares for elections scheduled for next year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s part of the alliance said.

The Oromo Democratic Party or ODP, which together with three other ethnically-based parties and five affiliated regional parties constitute the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, announced the plan Friday. The EPRDF, a former rebel movement with Marxist-Leninist roots, must replace its three-decade ideology of “revolutionary democracy” as it’s divisive and “undemocratic,” according to the ODP.

The existing decision-making structure “allows a small group to make decisions” over Ethiopia’s complex ethnically-based federation and is “not compatible with the current state of the struggle,” the ODP said.

The move comes as EPRDF gears up for elections scheduled for next year, in which its constituent branches will compete with opposition parties that have been emboldened by reforms that Abiy is rolling out, partly to open up political space.

“Revolutionary Democracy”

The push to overhaul the coalition’s structure is a means to increase the representation for Oromo and Amhara within EPRDF executive organs, giving them greater sway ahead of the elections, according to Ermias Tesfaye, an independent consultant in Burayu, Oromia state.

The EPRDF has promoted “revolutionary democracy” since it toppled a military junta in 1991 and during ascendancy of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front within the alliance. While the TPLF rules Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, which consists of 6.1% of the population, the Oromo and Amhara ethnic groups make up almost two-thirds of the population.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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