Ethiopia’s Somali party opens door for other Ethiopians

The Somali Peoples Democratic Party of Ethiopia today rebranded itself as Somali Democratic Party (SDP) opening its door for all Ethiopians from other ethnicity.

SDP has also revised its governing memorandum of association allowing anybody living in Somali region of Ethiopia to become member of the party, the state broadcaster ETV reported. Before today’s revision, an Ethiopia born and raised cannot be a member of the party.

The rebranding will allow SDP to join the new national political party, which Ethiopia’s ruling coalition is planning to launch in the coming few months. A few weeks ago the reformist prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and leader of the ruling coalition Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has indicated the plan of the coalition to merge with the affiliate parties ruling the peripheral regions of Ethiopia by establishing a new national political party.

For more than two decades, Somali, Afar, Benishangul Gumz Harari and Gambela regions of Ethiopia have been under the administration of regional political parties often named as affiliates to the EPRDF.

So far, two of the four member parties of the ruling coalition namely the Oromo Peoples Democratic Party and the Amhara National Democratic Movement have rebranded themselves as Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) and Amhara Democratic Party (ADP), respectively allowing anyone living in their respective regions to become member of the parties.

Some consider the move as soft strategy of easing the ethnic politics, which has been an issue of great concern and major cause of conflicts, displacements and death of citizens in Africa’s second most populous nation with 100 million plus people, next to Nigeria.