Delegates of the ninth convention of the ruling EPRDF party have shown their dissatisfaction over a eulogy written for their late leader, Meles Zenawi, while some were critical of the quality of its writing and completeness of the content.
Translated from Tigrigna, the eulogy was first presented to the congress of the TPLF, held in Meqelle two weeks ago, before it was presented to over 1,000 delegates at the conclusion of the ruling coalition’s convention on Tuesday, held in Bahir Dar.
The first to voice such disappointment over the organisation of the eulogy and its content structure was Meles’s widow. Elected to the political bureau of the TPLF for the second time and to the all too powerful Executive Committee of the EPRDF, Azeb Mesfin was displeased to see the eulogy incomplete.
Some of the points she argued as missed are Meles’s place, role and the contributions he made as an Editor-in-Chief of the party’s ideological organ, Addis Ra’ey. Azeb feels that the contributions Meles had made in originating the idea of forming a training facility for the rank and file, now directed by Addisu Legesse, and the manual he develop ought to be forcefully underlined.
Azeb defended her late husband’s legacy in relations to how he had handled the conflict and the subsequent war with Eritrea. Despite condemnations from his political opponents due to his heritage, Azeb told delegates that Meles had never negotiated on the national interests of Ethiopia.
“Not even for a second,” Azeb told delegates rather emphatically.
Azeb described Meles’s conduct during the war with Eritrea in the late 1990s as “extraordinary” in not showing what he had felt of the accusations, but focused on defending his beliefs and political positions regardless.
She recalled her late husband as perhaps the only leader who had earned a little over 4,000 Br a month in net salary, but fought poverty with courage and resolve, while remaining selfless.
“Meles didn’t have a bank account,” Azeb said. “He had neither an ID card nor a driving licence.”
These parts, Azeb argued, were not given their proper place in the eulogy, which was read by Hailemariam Desalegn, re-elected to chair the EPRDF twice since the death of Meles in August 2012.
Hailemariam’s re-election was fait accompli, although he was made to pass the test of contest to the office. His deputy, Demeke Mekonnen of ANDM, and Alemayehu Atomsa of OPDO, were nominated by their respective parties for the chairmanship, while leaders of the TPLF have declined to nominate their leaders, Fortune learnt.
Hailemariam has won the chairmanship with a landslide, after bagging 176 votes of the 180 Council members of the ruling party, sources in the Council disclosed to Fortune.
Although the other two contenders have received two votes each against Hailemariam, Demeke too claimed the deputy chairmanship position with significant margin, claiming 146 votes against 25 given to his contender, Fortune learnt.
Emerging as uncontested non-combatant leader of the Revolutionary Democrats since the party’s formation in the late 1980s, Hailemariam was seen endorsing the conciliatory proposition made by Addisu, who remains one of the 13 political bureau members of the ANDM but left out from the EPRDF’s Executive Committee.
Addisu has argued that the eulogy is filled with repetition, is not well organised, and suffers from losses in translation, while its structure is weak. Addisu urged delegates to let the EPRDF’s Executive Committee rewrite the eulogy before it gets adopted as the party’s official document, a proposition Hailemariam had secured its adoption by the Congress unanimously.