Ethiopia: Ruling party gets huge boost from business community

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Top Ethiopian businessmen have confirmed their support for the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) by donating 32 million birr for its election campaign expenses.

“It is not the EPRDF’s initiative. They approached us and told us about it,” Hailemariam Desalegn, EPRDF election coordinating committee member and government whip at parliament said.

“After watching their deep interest, we told them to mobilise all the business people and raise a target of 20 million birr; however, they raised 22 million birr in cash”, Hailemariam said.

Earlier the party had budgeted 10 million birr for campaign t-shirts, but the donors’ contribution of quality garments allows it to save the money.

“Their financial support does not mean anything to the EPRDF, but their initiative signifies their interest in EPRDF and we are proud of that. It gives us a real confidence,” the whip said.

The businesspeople that met at the Addis Ababa Convention Centre (AACC) on April 8 and raised 10 million birr in support of the EPRDF are already planning another gathering to ensure the ruling party remains in power.

The money was collected in different fundraising programmes chaired by top EPRDF members including Hailemariam Desalegn, government whip at parliament, who also was a member of the election organising committee and Girma Biru, Minister of Trade and Industry.

The first fundraising programme gathered close to 1,000 businesspeople and raised 10 million birr, according to sources. The second one also raised 10 million birr and the third one chaired by Girma Biru raised the remaining 15 million birr.

The ruling front’s fundraising campaign has succeeded beyond expectations, as the business people’s desire to see the party remain in power for the next five years has been shown through their donation.

The amount collected represented one third of the total election budget (142 million birr) approved by the government for this year’s national election, excluding a seven million birr allotted to finance contesting parties.

EPRDF has the lion’s share of the seven million birr according to its disbursement formula: A formula that is is partially agreed upon by opposition parties that participated in its drafting process.

The top businessmen and Ministry of Trade Industry will hold a huge campaign meeting in the coming weeks. The meeting is expected to address challenges in the business community, according to Hailemariam.

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