Ethiopian president sacked from key committee

Time of article published Jun 23, 2001

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Addis Ababa - Ethiopian President Negasso Gidada has been sacked from his political party's central committee, which he will henceforth be unable to represent in any capacity, the government-owned Ethiopian Herald newspaper reported Saturday.

On Friday, state radio said Negasso, whose presidential post is largely symbolic, had only been suspended from the central committee of the Oromo People's Democratic Organisation (OPDO), a member of the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary and Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Saturday's Herald said that "the OPDO central comittee and cadres of the organisation have decided to sack Dr Negasso from his membership."

They further decided that "Dr Negasso couldn't represent OPDO in any form as of June 22, 2001," the paper added.

OPDO leaders accuse the president of helping dissidents of the hardline Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), also in the ruling coalition, to "prevent the renewal of democracy" in the EPRDF, said Friday's state radio report.

Negasso, 58, has held the post since 1995 but his mandate expires this year, and parliament, which goes into recess in July, is expected to cast him aside.

His suspension comes as the EPRDF's general assembly has been meeting since Monday to evaluate the country's performance over the last decade.

Negasso walked out of the assembly on Friday, the official ENA agency reported.

"Negasso left the conference after renouncing his membership of the EPDRF council, claiming he was being put under pressure," the council said, quoted by ENA.

But the EPDRF said the allegations that the president was put under pressure were "without basis." It said three options had been given to Negasso: join in the vote, participate in the conference as an observer, or leave.

"The real reason for his leaving was his refusal to accept the reforms being discussed," which included an anti-corruption drive at the very highest levels, the council said.

Negasso walked out of the assembly "to avoid censure over his strong support of dissidents of the TPLF," said the EPRDF.

The coalition also said that Negasso claimed the OPDO was "free of all corruption," an opinion not shared by the majority of the council. - Sapa-AFP

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