Can Debretsion Gebremichael turn around mounting political pressure on TPLF?
After expelling Abay Woldu, currently president of Tigray regional state, this week, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) elected Debretsion Gebremichael as its chairman upon concluding its months-long gimgema (performance evaluation with an extensive self-criticism sessions) on Wednesday evening, reported Fana broadcasting and other TPLF affiliated media outlets.
In addition, the party elected Fetlework Gebregziabhier, also known as Monjorino, as deputy chairperson.
Another business in concluding the meeting was to elect executive committee members to replace three expelled executive committee members including the late Meles Zenawi’s wife Azeb Mesfin. The position of Tedros Adhanom, currently Director General of World Health Organization, seem to be filled as well.
Kerya Ibrahim, Asmelash Woldeselassie, Getachew Reda and Abraham Tekeste are elected to join the executive committee.
The election seems to be a culmination of months of, if not years, in-fight between two factions; Debretsion Gebremichael faction on the one hand and Abay Woldu on the other – and the later turned out to be losers. Yet, the new election ostensibly reflects an interest within TPLF to diversify executive in terms of gender and age, even religious diversity.
Getachew Reda, the youngest new addition to the executive committee, served as Government Communication Minister and was removed from the post following the countrywide popular protest in 2016 which led to the year-long state of emergency.
History : who is Debretsion Gebremichael?
Like many of TPLF senior leaders, he abandoned his university studies to join TPLF guerrilla forces in the late 70`s. During the guerrilla war, he was in charge of Radio (Dimtsi woyane).
After TPLF took over government power, Debretsion resumed his study at Addis Ababa University while on holding his government position and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees. Later, he got PHD degree, through distance education, from Capella University, Minnesota.
A section of Wikipedia profile post on Debretsion reads “He was sent to Italy by the TPLF and received training in communications technology”
In terms experience within TPLF government apparatus, he was the second person in the security and intelligence under Kinfe Gebremedhin, who was assassinated by a TPLF veteran with a rank of major in the military.
In 2005, Debretsion was appointed Director of the Ethiopian Information and Communication Development Agency. He is currently Debretsion Gebremichael is the current Minister of Communication and Information Technology and one of the three deputy prime ministers of Ethiopia.
Uncertainties for TPLF
TPLF may have sorted out internal problems, at least for now, but the road ahead might not be as easy as it was, if not will not turn out to be a maintenance.
While TPLF represents only 6 % of the Ethiopian population, it dominated the ruling coalition ( Ethiopian People`s Revolution Democratic Front which constitute four parties.) TPLF has a military upper hand and controls key Federal government positions including intelligence and security apparatus. The party has also created unprecedented wealth – which apparently added impetus to the insight. The party`s business empire is worth at least $6 billion US , not to mention wealth by individuals related to TPLF leaders at different levels.
Coalition member in the ruling party with far more population in terms of number are marginalized and disenchantment has been simmering for a long time although they appeared to be subservient in the open. But now at least two parties within the coalition are showing signs of open hostility to TPLF. Added to that, there is a contentious issue of Wolkait, a region in the northwest of Ethiopia, that was wrested from Gonder.
Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization, a creation of TPLF itself, has evolved to become somewhat assertive of power and seem to have a tendency to reject TPLF as master of the ruling coalition. Some Oromo activists claim and alarmed, apparently based on speculations based on past TPLF behaviours,that the TPLF has the intention to arrest assertive and popular elements of OPDO while releasing some political prisoners.
Sings in tension is also apparent in the military ranks. Apart from defections of armed soldiers from the defense force, there are rumors of clandestine plots within the military to engage TPLF military in the event that TPLF is resorting to total military administration – in fact, essentially what it has been doing for the last two or so years at least in some parts of the country.
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