Former Ethiopian president to receive partial retirement benefits

Former Ethiopian president to receive partial retirement benefits

Dr. Negaso Gidada, Ethiopia’s first president after the fall of the Derg regime, is set to receive partial retirement benefits that were suspended when he parted ways with the current regime. Negasso, in power from 1995 to 2001, will have access to a private car and healthcare coverage, a constitutional right that was taken away from him when he decided to join the opposition party.
The announcement came from the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO), the party that he once led but later dismissed him unceremoniously when he clashed with the former powerful Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in a central committee meeting on June 2001. Negasso continued his political activism, even when the regime came up with a bill that stipulated former presidents who engaged in political activities would lose their pension and all other retirement benefits. Negaso won a seat in Dembi Dolo as an independent in the 2005 elections for the House of People’s Representatives. In 2011, he was elected head of the country’s largest opposition party, Unity for Democracy and Justice and served for four years. He eventually left the party and retired from politics. In a 2016 interview with the Amharic daily Addis Zemen, Negaso pleaded for the reinstatement of his rights since he was no longer involved in any partisan political activity. He said he was facing financial constraints, practically living on the income of his wife.
Speaking to the BBC Amharic after the latest decision, Negaso said he is grateful that the OPDO leaders made the gesture even thirteen years later but insisted that his case is not a party one, rather a federal state affair. “As a former president, my full rights and benefits have to be reinstated,” he said.
The OPDO leaders, who are trying to rally dissatisfied group in the Oromia region behind them, have been in talks with the popular politician for the past two years to lure him into their party politics, according to sources. There was a plausible satisfaction when he agreed to show up at their meeting on November 2017. Even though Negasso was the type of candidate the party sought to recruit, it is unlikely that the 75-year-old politician would pledge allegiance, observers said.

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