Friday, September 22, 2006

ION update: 09/22/06

Meles' former chief of protocol defects
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1195 23/09/2006

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi ’s former head of protocol, who had accompanied him on several international State visits, has defected. According to Diplomatic sources, Addis Abadi Tesfaye , who had become Consular Attaché of the Ethiopian embassy in Ottawa (Canada) has recently left his post and asked for political asylum in the United States. He is not the only person to have done so. Daniel Ikubesillasie , third secretary and financial attaché of the Ethiopian embassy in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) did likewise.

Army officers defect
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1195 23/09/2006

Following the defections by several diplomats (see p.4) and a number of dignitaries from the ministry of justice, it is now the turn of several high ranking officers in the Ethiopian armed forces to leave the EPRDF government in power in Addis Ababa. To begin with, last month there was the defection of the Oromo General Kemal Gelchu who went to Eritrea. Two high ranking officers have now done likewise and joined the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), an armed opposition group, member of the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD). They are General Hailu Gonfa who worked at the Ethiopian ministry of defence and Colonel Gemechu Ayana, Commander of the 8th mechanised force. The two officers justified their defection in a communiqué issued on 14 September and carried by the official Eritrean media and Ethiopian opponent web sites, stating that “the armed forces have been systematically reduced to protecting the narrow interests of a small clique determined to cling to power at all costs”. They announced in it that they were rallying behind the OLF and called on Ethiopian servicemen to follow their example and “join the just and popular struggle” of the AFD. According to information obtained by The Indian Ocean Newsletter in Berlin, a third Tigrayan officer from Ethiopia, Major Yemane Tesfaye, has just asked for political asylum in Germany. He was a member of the security forces specialised in analysing information and radio communication and had been sent by the Ethiopian government to Germany to undergo training by the Bunderswehr at the Murnau military base near Munich. He left the base last week and is now in a refugee camp while waiting for the German authorities to decide on his request for political asylum.

A former Marxist at the bank
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1195 23/09/2006

One of Meles Zenawi’s grey eminences, a former Marxist-Leninist ideologist, has just joined the board of directors of the Development Bank of Ethiopia.

Since the beginning of August Abay Tsehaye, special advisor to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in charge of mobilising the population, has joined the board of the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) whose chairman is the Minister of Revenues Melaku Fenta. Abay Tsehaye has pulled himself up these last few years into the group of people close to the President, becoming one of the principle dignitaries in the regime, after having been in disgrace for a period.

An executive of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF, in power in Addis Ababa) and former Minister of Federal Affairs, Abay Tsehaye had joined the politburo of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF, hard core of the governing coalition) in September 2003. He hence returned to the role of political mentor he had had in this party two decades earlier, when he was the brains behind the Melallit, a small clandestine Marxist-Leninist organisation which formed the kernel of the TPLF, aligning it on the Stalinist line of the then President of Albania, Enver Hodja.

However, after the war with Eritrea from 1998 to 2000 Abay Tsehaye had a common cause with the TPLF dissidents who then defended an ultra-nationalist position, opposing Meles Zenawi. Consequently, he found himself put into the sidelines. Nevertheless, whereas the other dissidents were sacked from their functions and also excluded from the TPLF, Abay Tsehaye made honourable amends with Meles Zenawi and rallied behind him. This led to his being readmitted to the central committee of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, and subsequently being given the portfolio of Minister for Federal Affairs. Since then, he has not ceased to rise in importance in the circles of the Ethiopian executive.

French Consul looking for volunteers
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1195 23/09/2006

Things don’t always go the way Franck Simaer , the French Consul in Addis Ababa, would like. A few months back he worked hard to gather data from French expats living in Addis Ababa so that he could devise a new security plan for this community, based on dividing up Addis Ababa into six security zones (ION 1174). Now he is back at work looking for people to coordinate this security plan in these zones. He has just put out a call to the French community in Addis Ababa to find heads of security zones, nevertheless pointing out that this is unpaid voluntary activity, but which is fully compatible with normal working and family life, whose purpose is primarily that of helping the French embassy keep in contact with French nationals in each zone.