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After their partly dramatic sojourns in North America, many of the EPRDFites have retreated to the four regional towns and Addis Abeba for training and a return to the halls of sermons, gossip learned. The holy book is of course the credo of a democratic developmental state, à la carte Southeast Asia, and as authored by the chief priest.

The long-term objective of this series of longwinded trainings is the fate of the ruling party a decade or more from now, according to gossip. It is a very divisive issue of transforming the party machinery into a united party, from its current standing of a coalition of four, disclosed gossip.

It is divisive because there are formidable forces within the Revolutionary Democratic coalition who see their respective interests put on the line. These include, in particular, the old hands from the TPLF, and joined by those from the OPDO, claimed gossip.

Even among those who agree that the EPRDF has to become a single party, there is a good deal of difference in the timeframe in which this can be achieved. Some senior leaders see it happening as soon as four or six years, while others of similar stature in the party envision a little longer time, from eight to 10 years.

Only time will tell to what extent they will succeed in this. Many of the leaders who camped out at these training facilities declared “mission accomplished” after their recent voyages to North America, a trip designed to dazzle a formidable challenge to their rule, coming from the Diaspora, claimed gossip.

Ironically, success is a very illusive concept, and depends from where it is viewed. If they were keen to preach the gospel of transformation to the Diaspora, the opponents there were also found to have transformed their line of attack, as was evident in Washington DC, claimed gossip. Ironically, the state TV echoed the same declaration of victory against what Girma Birru et al felt to be a disruptive force.

If success is to be measured by the role and contribution that returnee Ethiopians were hoped to make in the private sector, then their appearance had little to show, claimed gossip. The reason and the manner in which these people were selected have never been clear, even to the 12 who were part of the delegation, gossip disclosed.

Many only learned what they were in for a few days before they were dispatched during a meeting with Brehane G. Kirstos, an old hand on the foreign affairs front and a state minister of Foreign Affairs.

Known to be candid and forthright, he told the dozens, comprising people such as but not limited to Zemedeneh Negatu, Daniel Gad, Brehane Assefa, Yousuf Rejja, Tadewos Belete, Yoadan Tilahun, and Addis Alemayehu (the businessman behind Afro FM), to tell their Diaspora folks the good, the bad, and the ugly about life under the Revolutionary Democrats, disclosed gossip.

In exchange for what was supposed to be an honest testimony of their experiences in doing business in today’s Ethiopia, each were provided with a free round-trip ticket worth at least 1,500 dollars and an allowance of 3,000 dollars. The total comes close to a one million Birr investment made in these people, claimed gossip.

Oddly enough, the ministry has had little to show for this investment, which gossip learned was financed by a donor organisation. Many of the organisers in North America were not prepared to accommodate them in formal meetings; some found out the inclusion of the “returnees” only when they appeared at the events, claimed gossip.

Only three of the 12 had the opportunity to speak (in Washington DC, Boston, and Atlanta); the majority returned without offering what they had in mind, according to gossip.

The verdict in the gossip corridors was that this was not all bad, and gave some quite a sense of relief, in a way!



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