In Ethiopia, prime minister Ahmed Abiy’s political party, the Oromo People Development Organisation (OPDO) has rebranded, changing its name and logo as it seeks to position itself in the changing political space in Oromia region and at the national level.
At a delegates conference attended by over 6000 members of the party including the chair Abiy, and his vice chair and president or Oromia state, Lemma Megersa, OPDO changed its name to Oromo Democratic Party (ODP).
OPD also retired 14 long serving officials of the party.
Both Abiy and Megersa in their addresses to the delegates, urged political parties in the region to united and consolidate the ongoing political reforms.
Since taking power, Abiy has lifted a state of emergency, freed political prisoners and removed leaders of banned groups including the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) from a blacklist, paving the way for their return to the country.
But Abiy’s reforms have yet to halt ethnic violence. Clashes between Oromos and ethnic Gedeos in the south caused nearly a million people to flee their homes soon after he took power.
Politicking ahead of 2020 poll
As the political players gear up for the 2020 elections, Abiy and ODP will be working to position themselves as the party that can not only fulfil the aspirations of the agitated Oromo people, but also appeal to national interests like security and economic growth.
Abiy has pledged to deliver a democratic election in 2020, adding that he would organise a smooth transition if the ruling coalition loses the election.
At the beginning of September, two major opposition parties, the Oromo Federalist Congress and OLF merged to ‘represent the interests of the people of Oromia’.