Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Monday removed State Minister for Peace, Taye Dendea, from his position. This decision was conveyed through a concise two-line letter directed to Taye, which was also copied to many other government institutions, including the Minister for Finance.
“Thanking you for your contributions as State Minister for Peace since September 29, 2014 [October 9, 2021, G.C.], you are removed from your position as of December 1, 2016 [December 11, 2023],” wrote the Prime Minister to Taye Dendea.
Beyond his ministerial role, Taye Dendea is a central committee member of the ruling Prosperity Party. He is recognized as an influential ethnic Oromo politician within the ruling party and is believed to command considerable political support in his ethnic region.
Abiy Ahmed’s decision swiftly followed a critical message posted by the Minister on his social media platform. Taye publicly criticized the government for its prohibition of an Anti-War Peaceful Demonstration scheduled for December 10, 2023. In his Sunday social media update, he remarked, “…we had been condemning EPRDF for banning peaceful demonstrations. But today we have banned peaceful demonstrations in Meskel Square. To ban anti-war peaceful demonstrations in a square where we beat drums of war gives bad meaning. It may mean for those armed struggle to continue and those who are not yet in armed struggle to resort to that.”
He further suggested that those responsible for banning peace should be held accountable. On Friday last week, the organizers postponed the demonstration after the government arrested four coordinators, labeling the peaceful demonstration as having intentions to create “turmoil and violence” in the capital, Addis Ababa. This was linked by the government to what it referred to as radical forces in the Amhara and Oromia regions, painting a picture of a “terrorist operation” stemming from the demonstration. Subsequently, a massive crackdown led to the arrest of hundreds of civilians in Addis Ababa. The ongoing conflict in the Amhara has witnessed intensified drone attacks, artillery shelling, and a state of emergency for over six months. In the Oromia region, the conflict between Abiy Ahmed’s government and radical ethnic Oromo nationalist groups has persisted for over five years.
Following the Prime Minister’s decision, Taye Dendea disclosed in an interview with BBC Oromo that the Prime Minister did not personally contact him to discuss his statement.
Taye’s Response to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Decision
In a widely reacted-to Facebook status update, Taye responded strongly to the Prime Minister’s decision, becoming the first Minister to openly criticize Abiy. Addressing the Prime Minister directly, he wrote, “I followed you believing in the Medemer that you wrote and spoke about. Now I understand that not only do you not live by what you said, but you are also ruthless, playing with human blood. You used to praise me when I supported your war efforts. Today, when I understood it and started advocating for an end to bloodshed between brothers and stood for peace, you removed me from power… I will continue to advocate for peace and brotherhood as long as I am alive.”
Taye was highly critical of the government’s failure regarding the failed peace agreement between the radical ethnic Oromo nationalist group – the “Oromo Liberation Army” – and the Ethiopian government in Tanzania. He squarely blamed the government for the failure of the talks, asserting that the government, notably Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration, lacks interest in a peaceful Ethiopia.
Numerous Ethiopians voiced their opinions across social media platforms and media outlets, commending Taye for his courage to speak truth to power, and for his “integrity.” Many are urging other members of Abiy Ahmed’s administration to follow suit. However, there are notable voices expressing reservations about the Prime Minister’s decision and Taye’s response, viewing it as a potential “convince and confuse” strategy.
However, there are speculations that Taye might be facing danger due to the remarks he made.
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