In what seems to be a big upset to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his administration, his closest ally and friend, Lemma Megerssa, who is currently the Minister of Defense and deputy chairman of the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), has openly expressed his difference with the PM’s ‘philosophy’ known as medemer or synergy as well as the “hurried” steps taken to merge the incumbent EPRDF and its affiliate parties into a single unified party—Prosperity Party.
Even though there have been growing speculation about differences created between the two, news of Lemma’s open defiance to pillars of Abiy’s administration caught everyone by surprise.
Last week, Lemma told VOA’s Afaan Oromo division about his position regarding the recent decisions made by the central committees of EPRDF, the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) and Southern People’s Democratic Movement Party (SPDMP) to merge with each other and their affiliates.
It can be recalled that Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) also refused to be part of the merger and criticized the merger labeling it as “illegal.”
Similarly, Lemma, who has been very instrumental in the political dynamics of Ethiopia in the past two years, which eventually brought Abiy to power in 2018, has echoed his rejection of the merger.
“Merging this party is not timely as there are many dangers. We are in a transition,” said Lemma, speaking in Afaan Oromo. “This is borrowed time; it is not ours. We are facing several problems from different places during this borrowed time.”
“It’s not the time to come up with something new, but a time to solve problems that we should be focused on,” he said adding: “We should focus on maintaining peace and stability and focus on macroeconomics, especially, people’s struggle with the rising cost of living.”
Moreover, explaining his displeasure with the medmer philosophy, Lemma who is currently in the United States said that Medemer should start from the base. He also stressed that the political intention behind it must first be scrutinized.
“For Medemer, it shouldn’t start from somewhere else, but should be about Oromos and the Ida’amu (synergy) of Oromos. It is strengthening the unity starting from the Kebelle, Woreda, and zonal levels to the top,” Addis Standard reported quoting Lemma’s interview with VOA.
As far as Lemma’s political role is concerned, it is not clear what his next step will be; even though he said he will continue with the ‘party’ or leave.
“Until they tell me to leave the organization, I will struggle holding on to the difference I have,” he said.