Saturday, October 06, 2007

Enduring disagreement in TPLF

Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1223 06/10/2007
The Ethiopian opposition is not alone in being riddled with rivalry. Rumours of conflict within the government coalition are beginning to leak out from the screened walls of the Ethiopian Prime Ministerial residence. According to information obtained in Addis Ababa by The Indian Ocean Newsletter, this disagreement pits on one side Meles Zenawi, supported by his Minister for Foreign Affairs Seyoum Mesfin, against on the other side the regime’s grey eminence, Sebhat Nega, backed notably by Bereket Simeon and Tefera Walma. Their rivalry was revived in the run-up to the adoption on 2 October of the Ethiopia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2007 in the United States. But it has its roots in the rejection by Sebhat Nega and his partisans of the Prime Minister’s “soft” policy on the leaders of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party (CUDP, opposition). Meles Zenawi is having a hard time selling his colleagues his policy of appeasing the reformist wing of the opposition, even though this policy has the support of Washington. Indeed, this should lead to opening negotiations with the most moderate faction of recently freed CUDP former political prisoners. The latter would return to the political scene and possibly to Parliament (in the case of those elected in 2005) and even to the post of mayor of Addis Ababa in the case of Berhanu Nega. Various groups are active in the wings in the United States to pave the way for possible negotiations between the Ethiopian Prime Minister and the moderates in the opposition. The Carter Center founded by former US President Jimmy Carter could act as mediator for these discussions. However Sebhat Nega and Bereket Simeon are staunchly opposed to this idea of negotiating with the opposition.