Saturday, February 17, 2007
Asmara's Ethiopian allies in trouble
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1208 17/02/2007
The attempts by the Eritrean authorities to manipulate certain Ethiopian opposition groups to their advantage have only worsened internal splits inside these groups.
In spite of the victorious military communiqués issued by Asmara, the Ethiopian People’s Patriotic Front (EPPF, Ethiopian armed opposition), whose members undergo training in Eritrea, is not always in a position to carry out military operations in Ethiopia that can make a serious dent in the Ethiopian armed forces. In fact, this group has completely fallen apart internally. Some of its members accuse the commander Meskeram Atalay of abandoning them to flee to Germany where he has settled after initially going there for medical treatment. They also call for the expulsion of Mussie Tegegne, whom they consider responsible for the internal split in their movement and the arrest of EPPF combatants by the Eritrean authorities.
The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), another Ethiopian opposition movement supported by Eritrea, is also subject to internal divergence. The friction is aggravated by the fiasco of Eritrean collaboration with the Somalian Islamists to create in Somalia a point of entry into Ethiopia for armed opposition groups like the OLF. Daoud Ibsa, president of the OLF, had already been considered too dependent on Eritrean strategy by a meeting of OLF partisans in Oslo in mid-December, which he did not attend. He is globally reproached for having operated policies which marginalised the OLF in the 2005 general election. The Oromo population had not really heeded his call to boycott the election. He had later accepted to form an alliance, that many Oromo activists consider “contrary to nature”, with the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP) consisting in their view of “chauvinists”.