Ethiopia bids farewell to assassinated Chief of Staff Seare Mekonnen

General Seare Mekonnen and his friend. Brigadier General Gezai Abera will be laid to rest in Mekelle St. Gabriel Church. Unlike the former chief of staff Samora Younis,Seare Mekonnen was very popular and respected among Ethiopians.

Seare Mekonnen _ Ethiopia _ Chief of Staff of the Defense Force
Prayer ritual at the Millennium Hall in the capital Addis Ababa. Photo : DW Amharic

June 25, 2019

Ethiopia is bidding farewell to slain Chief of Staff of the Defense Force, General Seare Mekonnen, and his close friend, Retired Brigadier General Gezai Abera, at the Millenium Hall on Tuesday in the capital Addis Ababa. 

Relatives and Friends of the deceased, President Sahlework Zewde, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, ministers, high ranking military officers and members of the diplomatic community attended the farewell ceremony, according to a report by DW Amharic. 

Following prayer rituals in the tradition of the Ethiopian Church, General Getachew Gudina who is Commander of the Northern division of the defense force readout a brief biography of the late General Seare whom Ethiopians seem to get to know well, and revere, following his appointment as Chief of Staff in June 2018.  

He was born in 1954 (Ethiopian Calendar which is 1962 G.C.) in Tigray region Endabaguna district from his mother Woizero Hiwot Yihdego and his father Mekonnen Yimer. He went to Shire high school before he joined the rebel forces of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in 1969 E. C. (1977 G.C). After TPLF took over power in Addis Ababa,  he has served in the military in different capacities including as Chief of staff of the Defense Force. 

His friend, Rtd. Brigadier General Gezai Abera was also born in Tigray region, Aksum Town, one of Ethiopia’s major tourist attractions, in 1953 E.C. Like Seare, he joined the rebel movement in 1969 E.C. (1977 G.C.) and has served in different military positions after TPLF took power until he was retired in 2013. 

Seare was assassinated in his residence around 9 p.m. on Saturday while “organizing a military response to the situation in Bahir Dar, western Ethiopia,” as the government puts it and his assassination is linked to the alleged “coup d’etat” in Bahir Dar. His friend Brigadier Gen. Gezai Abera was in the Chief of Staff’s residence at the time and was also killed. The government claims that Seare was assassinated by his own bodyguard but no explanation is given as to how Brigadier General Gezai Abera was killed, same time and same place. 

Those who know Chief of Staff Seare Mekonnen describe him as a brave a man of principle. His stand towards ethnic politics and his mantra “I’m a soldier and a soldier does not have ethnicity. We have a country called Ethiopia”  has earned him much respect from Ethiopians. 

The narrative surrounding the assassinations of the generals is rather murky and Ethiopians are pointing finger on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration. Initially, the government announced that the assassin is under control, then it was reported that the assassin was shot dead, and now government authorities are claiming that the assassin is wounded and in hospital.  

Bodies of General Seare and General Gezai Abera will be flown to Mekelle, the seat of TPLF government in Tigray, and the funeral will take place on Wednesday at Mekelle St. Gabriel Church, according to reports by state media EBC. 

The late Migbaru Kebede, Attorney General of Amhara region.

In a related development, bodies of Ambachew Mekonnen, who was president of Amhara region, his advisor, Ezez Wasse, and the region’s Attorney General Migbaru Kebede, who died in hospital in Addis Ababa, will be laid to rest at St. Gabriel Church in Bahir Dar.  These Amhara region leaders were shot while having a meeting on Saturday around 5 p.m local time.

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