With selection of Hailemariam Desalegn from Wolaita and Demeke Mekonnen from Amhara as prime minister and deputy prime minister, Meles Zenawi’s and TPLF’s dream of ruling Ethiopia for at least 50 years has ended today.
Meles Zenawi had never intended for this to happen. His intention was to retire in 2015, after making his wife the prime minister and continue to rule behind the scene while residing at the 100-million-birr residence he built inside the National Palace. The family dynasty he plotted to establish went into flames when he was hit with an ‘unknown’ illness some time in May or June this year.
Nevertheless, what has happened in Ethiopia today is a ‘miracle revolution,’ because for the regime’s two most visible figures, the prime minister and his hand-picked patriarch, to die in a period of two weeks is nothing short of a miracle. Their death is now creating opportunities for positive changes in the country. We will soon know if there are going to be changes by the kind of actions that Hailemariam will take in the coming few days and weeks — primary among them are the immediate release of all political prisoners.
In ceding power, the TPLF, the leading party in the 4-party coalition (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front [EPRDF]), had been out-maneuvered and out-played by Bereket Simon in the absence of Sebhat Nega and other more experienced leaders who were purged by Meles Zenawi from the TPLF politburo in the TPLF in 2010. Their attempt to return to the TPLF leadership after Meles died was blocked by Bereket’s allies, paving the way for Hailemariam to assume power.
Most of what has transpired inside the regime since the death of Meles in July, including the 12-day zombified funeral, was managed and orchestrated by Bereket. He promoted Hailemariam from SEPDM and Demeke (his protege) from ANDM to save his own skin, because if the hardliners in the TPLF hold on to power, his fate could be ugly. Until the inexperienced Hailemariam is situated in his new position and develops leadership skills, he will depend on Bereket, who will remain the most powerful person in the regime for some time to come.
On the TPLF side, they all know Bereket, who is an Eritrean, is behind their demise, and the TPLF cadres are now saying that they have been pushed aside by the Eritrean wing of TPLF/EPRDF. They argue that without the Eritreans in the TPLF, namely Berhane Gebrekiristos, Teodros Adhanom, Neway Gebreab, Isayas Woldegiorgis (the deputy chief of security) and others, TPLF would have fought to keep the premiership for itself. Bereket was able to build a coalition of ANDM, SEPDM, some from OPDO and the Eritrean wing of the TPLF to get Hailemariam elected.
The U.S. Gov’t, particularly the Africom, also played a key role in the selection of Hailemariam. The Africom made sure that the corrupt TPLF generals remain quite, or else they will loose all the properties they bought in the US. The family of many of the TPLF generals, such as Seare Mekonnen and Tadesse Werede, live and attend school in the U.S. They are not in the mood to die for TPLF supremacy.
The influence of Eritreans in the TPLF/EPRDF cannot be discounted, but the TPLF presents an immediate threat to Ethiopia and thus it must be quashed and obliterated for there to be any chance of real change. Let’s not forget that it is TPLF that has been plotting to dismember Ethiopia and create ‘Greater Tigray.’