Ethiopia’s Oromo Democratic Party (ODP), which is part of the ruling coalition has formalised its merged with the Oromo Democratic Front (ODF), which recently returned from exile.
Oromia state president, Lemma Megersa, who is ODP’s deputy chair signed a memorandum of understanding with ODF’s chair, Lencho Leta on Wednesday.
The merger could play a significant role in the Oromia region, where the largest ethnic group (Oromos), have agitated for political power in recent years.
Addisu Arega, ODP’s rural political mobilization head said the two parties will establish a technical committee that will share more details of merging strategy and policy programs.
Electioneering ahead of 2020?
ODP, which is headed by the prime minister is one of four member parties of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples Democratic Front coalition (EPRDF).
The party, led by prime minister Abiy Ahmed, also agreed to ‘work closely and resolve differences’ with another major opposition party in the region, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).READ MORE: Ethiopia’s ruling Oromo bloc agrees ‘deal’ with opposition OLF
In September, the OLF, which recently returned from its base in Eritrea to puruse a peaceful struggle, announced a merger with the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).
OFC was heavily involved during the Oromo protests that rocked the country partly contributing to change in leadership of government earlier this year.
Two of its leaders, Dr. Merera Gudina and Bekele Gerba, became the face of the political struggle as they faced multiple criminal charges and spent long periods in detention. The state has since dropped the cases against them.
The leaders were part of the group of opposition leaders that met Abiy on Tuesday, discussing electoral reforms and means of ensuring a free, fair and credible election in 2020.READ MORE: : Gudina, Nega, Ibsa present as Ethiopia PM consults with opposition