There is intense focus on the ongoing executive committee meeting of the Ethiopian ruling party, EPRDF, which includes Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and reginal leaders, Lemma Megersa, Gedu Andargachew, and Abdi Mohammed. Speculation abounds about what the outcome of the meeting will be and if there will be any surprise. According to a well-placed source, one point of disagreement was the issue of the resettlement programme for thousands of people displaced from the Somali region following deadly clashes between ethnic Somalis and Oromos, which most of the participants argued would be critical to the long-term stability of the country. Many displaced people are yet to leave the often squalid camps where they were taken for protection. According to the party’s decision yesterday, an ambitious government resettlement program is to be launched in an effort to return things to “normal.” The program will include proper safeguards and arrangements for monitoring the return of the displaced people, compensation and material incentives to settle in their former villages.The meeting also emphasized the importance of transparent investigations into the violence and that those involved must be held accountable including higher officials. Kebede Chane, minister for Federal and Pastoralist Affairs, will be in charge of the mission and series of conferences would be held with presidents of Oromia and Somali regional states, according the source.
Some of the participants, mostly OPDO representatives, were not convinced about the move and questioned its effectiveness at time when ethnic tensions have not yet subsided. One OPDO figure spoke wondering if the programme is anything more than superficial. According to the source, Lemma Megerssa also used the occasion to register his deep displeasure on the federal government’s disregard to the injustice and gross human right abuses committed by the Somali regional government and its Liyu force army. Lemma’s arch rival, Abdi, has defended the action and that of the Liyu forces. Prime Minister Hailemariam and TPLF officials who pushed on the idea avoided the legitimate questions, instead argued on the need to work in a spirit of “concordance and progress.” It was finally decided that the ambitious resettlement programme would go ahead and all members accepted the decision “with all its flows,” according to the source.