Possible coup d’etat thwarted, for now

Ethiopia’s ruling junta is expected to make acting prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s fate official today, Tuesday, when EPRDF, the umbrella group led by Tigrean People Liberation Front (TPLF) convenes, according to Ethiopian Review sources.

It is reported that TPLF has already settled on keeping Hailemariam as acting prime minister, while firmly holding on to most of the levers of power. But that is easier wished than done, since, with serpent’s head cut off, the puppet parties in the EPRDF are showing signs of independence and may not rubber-stamp TPLF’s decisions any more.

Ever since Meles disappeared from the scene, a powerful group led by TPLF founder and former chairman Sebhat Nega has been fighting to block Hailamariam’s confirmation as prime minister. Sebhat and many in the TPLF argue that the prime minister’s position should be reserved for the TPLF. However, they seemed to have backed off for now after being pressured by the U.S. Government with an implicit threat of travel ban and other sanctions.

In the mean time, Sebhat is also out to get his nemesis Azeb Mesfin, widow of the later dictator, who pushed him out of the TPLF politburo 2 years ago. In one recent TPLF meeting, Sebhat referred to her as “who is that woman?” She responded by calling him “wodi shermuta,” and stormed out of the meeting, according to Ethiopian Review sources. “Shermuta” was Azeb’s favorite name for her late husband also.