The political bigwigs in Addis Ababa

September 30th, 2006 Print Print Email Email

indian ocean N° 1196 30/09/2006

While some Western embassies had been expecting Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to make substantial changes in the teams leading the various factions of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF in power in Addis Ababa), the outcome of the congresses of these parties was something of an anticlimax. Some minor changes were made at the top of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, hard core of the EPRDF) and the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) without changing the overall balance of power. The changes among the leaders of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organisation (OPDO) were purely cosmetic and the team leading the Southern Ethiopia People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) remained in control, in spite of an increase in the number of members of the executive of this organisation’s, which incidentally is quite marginal in the governing coalition.Exit Sebhat Nega. The only new member of the nine man executive council (EC) of the TPLF, chaired by Meles Zenawi, is the Minister of Health Tewodros Adhanom Gebreyesus. He is the first leader of this party not to be the outcome of the guerrilla war waged against the previous Ethiopian regime. A graduate in biology from Asmara University (1986), and then with higher degrees in immunology from the University of London (1992) and community health from the University of Nottingham (2000), he was deputy minister of health before becoming the minister in October 2005 after the elections last year. His promotion was coupled with the demotion of Sebhat Nega, who had for a long time been the Prime Minister’s grey eminence. He left the TPLF EC and is now in 36th place among the 45 members of the central committee (CC), of which his sister Kidusan Nega is also a member. For the remainder, the TPLF executive team has not changed very much. But some people have left the CC (Tesema Gebre Hiwot, Alem Gebre Wahid, Tekle Berhan Araya and Aklilu Damberkai) and the Prime Minister’s wife Azeb Mesfin has joined. Although hated by Seyoum Mesfin (TPLF deputy chairman), Roma Gebre Sellasie (wife of Ambassador Tewolde Gebru, also a member of the TPLF CC), Adhana Haile and Berhane Kidane Mariam (publisher of the TPLF house newspaper) kept their seat on the party’s CC.

Bereket Simeon hands over power. The advisor to the Prime Minister, Bereket Simeon, who is sick, has handed over his seat of deputy chairman of the ANDM to the Minister Tefera Walwa but remains a member of its EC. This team is chaired by Addisu Legesse and includes the leaders of the Amhara Regional State – Ayalew Gobeze and Yoseph Reta – the Minister of Information, Birhan Hailu, the director of the Bahr Dr Management Institute, Ambachew Mekonnen, the representative of the Ethic and Anti-Corruption Commission at Bahr Dar, Demeke Mekonnen and some less well-known people like Yohannes Buayalew. Some heavyweight former dignitaries, including some ex-ministers who have become ambassadors (Kebede Tadesse, Tadesse Kassa, Genet Zewde, Dawit Yohannes and Hilawe Yosef) are still members of the ANDM CC.

Change in continuity. Long in internal crisis, the OPDO is still headed by the duo Abadula Gemeda/Girma Biru. The disgraced and the rehabilitated former leader Kuma Demeksa, is also a member of the OPDO CE, as are Jarso and Juneidi Saddo and the Ministers Aster Mammo Negewo and Muktar Kedir. Among the newly promoted figure the former administrator of the Western Wollega region, Zelalem Jamaneh and the former head of the bureau of agriculture and rural development of Oromia Regional State, Driba Kuma. On the other hand, the name of Ali Abdo and a few other former Oromo dignitaries are no longer on the official list of OPDO executive. The Minister Sufian Ahmed has had to be content with a seat on the CC, as have two former members of the OPDO EC, Mohamed Hassen and Alemayehu Atomsa. The SEPDM is still chaired by Hailemariam Desalegn with Shigute as his number two and a handful of government personalities in his CE, such as the Speaker of Parliament Teshome Toga, Kassu Illala, the Ministers Berhanu Adelo and Siraj Fegessa and also the head of the bureau for industry and urban development of the regional administration of south Ethiopia, Mekuria Haile.

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