The immediate task calling for attention in Ethiopia today includes restoring peace, addressing the demands of the public, ensuring the security of the country and the stability of the region, facilitating the transition to a genuine democracy,

and bringing about social reconciliation. In short, we live under the imperative of making and building peace; restoring lives, dreams, and hopes by practicing compassionate governance; fostering reconciliation and solidarity among peoples; and facilitating transition to an inclusive democracy that can, in time, transform the polity.

The kind of transitional leader needed now is one that can broker peace among contending forces, listen to the plight of the peoples, extend relief to the displaced and suffering public, pacify the country by taking the army back to their barracks, and build a genuine inter-communal solidarity.

So far, considering:

a) his readiness to listen to the public, to realign his party to their tunes, and to publicly articulate their problems on all possible platforms;

b) his efforts (and success, to an extent) to pacify his region, particularly reorganizing the police force and reorienting it to become the guardian of public peace;

c) the empathy he expressed in his approach to the relief mobilization for the displaced mass and his responsible attitude in handling the Liyyu Police aggression;

d) the gesture of solidarity he extended to people outside of his region, especially the bond he built with the ANDM leadership in the Amhara region;

e) the willingness to start negotiation with the opposition parties;

f) the calm temperament he manifested throughout these tumultuous times and the potential statesmanship that this promised;

g) the extraordinary public trust he has gained (most of which he earned);

there is a lot of anticipation that Lemma Megerssa, as the leader of OPDO–and possibly the chief of EPRDF–will be nominated to become the next Prime Minister.

I hope OPDO will not squander its opportunity to lead by ignoring or otherwise sidelining this candidate. I ALSO HOPE THAT HE WILL ASSERT HIMSELF TO SHOW READINESS TO SHOULDER THE TASK with grace and humility. He should seek endorsement from his own party base and confront his TPLF adversaries with the choice directly.

Many raise the issue of his not being a member of the federal parliament as a hurdle (art 73). But if the machine is so worried about the constitutional integrity of the process, they can conduct a replacement election for vacated regional and federal seats in a short order.

Obviously, I don’t, for once, believe that giving him the top job will help address all of the problems that the protest is about. But considering the popularity he sways even among the Qeerroo, I am hopeful that he can lead the reform that can eventually transform the polity better than any other candidate currently vying for the top position in government. Obviously, if polls are anything to go by (and if one is taken), they would show that he has a better chance to win and that he commands a bigger support among the large majority of people in Oromia and beyond.

OPDO can sideline Lemma only at its own peril. TPLF-EPRDF can ignore him (and meddle in the business of the regions) only at the risk of provoking another round of mass unrest and an unstoppable tide of protests.

The TPLF establishment media and their apologists are already coming out in droves to bash Lemma for no reason. It looks like he is becoming their worst nightmare. I think Lemma Megerssa becomes the best candidate precisely for that reason.

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