The ruling party EPRDF (Ethiopian peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front) postponed its Congress to 2018. The respective Congresses of the four member parties will be delayed likewise.
According to a senior official of the EPRDF speaking to HornAffairs, there is “a consensus to delay the next Congress” which should have taken place in September 2017.
Another senior official confirmed the delay and indicated, the Congress will likely take place in February or March 2018.
The two officials spoke to HornAffairs on condition of anonymity since the party have not announced the matter yet.
It is not clear whether the decision to postpone was formally approved by the 180 member EPRDF Council which is primarily responsible for organising the Congress.
The bylaw of the party stipulate the Congress shall convene every two and two-and-half years and allows for a one time six months extension. However, the party rarely waited that long to convene the Congress.
The EPRDF Congress have been regularly held exactly every two years in the months of August – September for the past two decades.
The only time the party skipped that tradition was in 2012, when the chairperson Meles Zenawi suddenly passed away. That Congress eventually took place in March 2013. Yet, the subsequent Congress was held in August 2015.
The next Congress will be the second one to be delayed in recent memory.
Party officials told HornAffairs that the delay is needed to exhaustively complete the “deep reform” process without being distracted by pre – Congress works.
The EPRDF Congress is attended by about a thousand delegates representing the four member parties of the EPRDF.
While the EPRDF Congress is mostly ceremonial, it is preceded by the Congresses of the member parties where the leadership of the respective parties are selected. The EPRDF Council and Excutive Committee are delegated by the corresponding organs of each member parties.
The ruling party is evidently wary of the scale of consensus within the leadership and with the lower level officials.
The preparatory works of the party Congresses, including the selection of the attendees, is carefully conducted and most issues are determined in advance. However, even in normal times, surprises are not uncommon.
In 2015, the Congress of TPLF/EPRDF took five days and half, as the debate couldn’t be concluded in two days as planned.
There is a high liklihood of similar power struggle and display of discontent if the Congresses of the EPRDF and the member parties were to be held today.