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Ethiopia removed National Intelligence and Security Agency Director

Are the changes made to National Intelligence and Security Agency and the Defense for relevant to achieve intended reforms?Is Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reform agenda thwarted by reactionary forces who seem exploit power struggle between ethnic parties that constitute the ruling coalition?

National Intelligence and Security Agency
General Adem Mohamed (top left), unverified photo of Getachew Assefa (top right), Samora Yenus (botton left) and Seare Mekonen (bottom right)
Source : Social media

June 7,2018

One of the most powerful men and Long time Director of Ethiopia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), Getachew Assefa, is removed from his position effective today.

Although the change has been rumored for a long time now following reports by US based Ethiopian news outlet (ESAT), it was made public today and covered by state and affiliated media in Ethiopia after the office of prime minister announced it. Getachew was highly secretive and has been known to the public as faceless officer. No official picture of him was ever in the media to-date.

Who took-over his position?

Abiy Ahmed picked General Adem Mohamed to take over as the new Director of the intelligence agency. And he is charge of the country’s security and intelligence effective from today.

The prime minister’s office stated that General Adem was appointed in “consideration of his work experience.”

During Hailemariam Desalegn’s term in office, he was appointed as deputy chief of staff of the National Defense force of Ethiopia. Furthermore, he served as head of the Ethiopian Air Force until today.

Other “changes”

The office of the prime minister also announced the appointment General Seare Mekonnen as the new chief of staff D’etat major of the defense force. Seare is replacing the General Samora Yenus who was a close confidant of the late Meles Zenawi and who served as chief of staff for well over two decades. Seare is believed to be an ultra ethnic Tigray nationalist and a die hard TPLF member as is the case with Samora.

There has been critics among analysts the change, which is meant to be the new prime minister’s reform measure to entrench transparency and accountability as solid principles of governance, is focusing on personnel rather than institutional reform. Yet, even the change in leadership in some institution does not constitute change in the real sense of the term and that is what the removal of of Samora only to be replaced by Seare did not make much sense for critics and Ethiopians in the opposition quarter.

In a related development, Abadula Gemeda who served as speaker of the house of representative for a long time and who was appointed a few weeks ago as adviser on national security to the prime minister is made to retire. Perhaps, Abiy Ahmed was under pressure from TPLF officials. Abadula resigned as speaker of the house in September 2017 ,at the height of internal wrangling within the ruling coalition,claimed that “his people and his party” were disrespected. Months later, he rescinded his resignation and briefly worked as speaker of the house before his appointment as security advisor to the prime minister.

Girma Birru who served as Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States for more than seven years since 2011, currently Chairman of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation’s (EEPCo) Board of Directors, is made to retire as well. He served as Minister for Economic Development and Cooperation between 1995 and 2001 and as minister of Minister of Trade and Industry between 2001 and 2010.

Abadula Gemeda and Girma Birru are members of Oromo People’s Democratic Organization, one of the four ethnic based parties that constitute the ruling coalition, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Raison d’etre for the reform minded new prime minister in making changes to various government institution is fighting corruption and bringing quality and efficient public service but making that happen seem to be difficult, to say the least, due to power struggle within the ruling coalition.

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