Lidetu Ayelew, president of the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP), handed over his role to secretary general of the party, Mushe Semu on the fifth general assembly of the party held Sunday, March 20.
The decision was made according to the bylaws of the party, which place a four-year, two-term limit to the presidential position, as Mushe disclosed.
Lidetu came to the position after former party president Dr. Admassu Gebeyehu completed his two terms as party leader four years ago. A vote by members of the party had instated Lidetu to the position.
In his farewell speech, Lidetu claimed that EDP was the only party with term limits on the leadership position. “Opposition parties should exercise leadership transition while still an opposition,” he proclaimed. “Otherwise, it’s foolish to think they will do so once in Arat Kilo [Grand Menelik Palace].”
In what seemed to be a summary of the ups and downs Lidetu faced during his tenure in the political limelight – from being labeled the Ethiopian “Mandella” to a “power seeker” – his farewell was an emotional one. He maintained that he was glad with the roles he played in various positions, especially in what he claimed as spearheading the promotion of dialog between the ruling party and opposition camps. He also claimed stake in raising the public awareness about matters of the state and rights of citizens, particularly in the run-up to the elections in 2005. “For any [party] envisioning beyond the attainment of political power, that is a great achievement,” he said.
He further told gathered party members, well-wishers and the media that his 18 years in politics constituted three quarters of his life so far, and this succession of position does not mean the end of his involvement in Ethiopian politics. “I ravel in it,” he asserted, “and I can’t just throw it away. It’s my calling.”
The farewell speech concluded with apologies on the part of Lidetu for party members, and of the incumbent, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), whom he might have offended during his stretch. “You can’t please everybody in politics,” he said in a final note.
EDP was established 11 years ago. Lidetu had served as the general secretary under Admassu’s presidency before taking up the role of the presidency.