EPRDF becoming a tinderbox

A delegation of the ruling junta in Ethiopia, Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF), has secretly met with acting prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn over the weekend in Addis Ababa to negotiate TPLF’s role in the new regime.

It is not known yet what was exactly discussed at the meeting, but observers speculate that the TPLF is trying to pressure Hailemariam into agreeing with their demand to keep the current government structure intact, or else stand down and help pave the way for the new TPLF leader to become prime minister.

Abay Tsehay, Arkebe Ekubay and Debretsion Gebremichael are in the short list of candidates for the TPLF chairmanship, Ethiopian Review sources reported.

The TPLF leadership decided to start negotiating with Hailemariam to avoid confrontation with the ANDM, OPDO and SEPDM (member organizations of the ruling coalition, the EPRDF) before the 180-member EPRDF council meets next weekend.

Bereket Simon did not accompany Hailemariam during the negotiation with TPLF leaders. He was busy meeting with ANDM members over the weekend.

Former chairman and co-founder of TPLF Sebhat Nega is taking an extremely hardline position. It is reported that the 81-year-old Sebhat is prepared to call for the nuclear option (Article 39) if necessary and declare Tigray an independent country if TPLF fails to secure the premiership. Sebhat believes that TPLF will be back to square one — back to where they started — if power slips from their hands. TPLF members inside the country and abroad are expressing the same concern.

Major, potentially explosive, development is expected between now and next Sunday.