Who is the winner within the TPLF conflict?
Ethiomedia; Updated Feb 4, 2013



This group knows how Ethiopia sees them. They know they can't win individual fights. They will remain loyal to each other, and face any enemy together. To stay in power, they will apply the Meles Zenawi method of operation: swift and merciless
The dynamo in this old-guard group is undoubtedly Sebhat Nega. He is the master of intrigue, and unlike the others, he has the gut to stand his ground. His enemy number one is the widowed Azeb Mesfin, and the whole power struggle revolves around the two of them.
BACKGROUND - The first major conflict within the TPLF leadership occurred in 2001 after the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi aborted an imminent Ethiopian military victory over the 1998-2000 War with Eritrea.

The victory was so imminent as Eritrean soldiers were already fleeing to Sudan, handing over their guns and ammunition to Sudanese security forces. In the capital Asmara, which was crowded with fleeing residents of towns already overran by Ethiopian defense forces, government officials were on the verge of fleeing the country along with their families. President Isaias himself was considering to move back to Sahel, his rebel-era base in the desert region of northeastern Eritrea.

For Meles, undoubtedly the architect of Eritrean independence, it would have been the most painful episode to see Ethiopian-flag carrying soldiers marching in victory into the Eritrean capital. It would have negated Eritrean claim, which Meles bragged about time and again, that their 30-year-old war had resulted in the defeat of Ethiopia and the independence of Eritrea.

The conflict arose between two groups: those who favored Ethiopian victory over Eritrea and those who favored Eritrean victory over Ethiopia. To cut a long story short, Meles took swift measures against his half-hearted rivals and destroyed them in every sense of the word.

Prominent TPLF officials like Kinfe Gebremedhin and Hailu Gebremeskel were murdered in politically-motivated plots while Gebru Asrat et al were almost deprived of their citizenship rights and thrown penniless onto the streets while former Defense Minister Seeye Abraha was thrown into jail for six years on trumped-up charges of corruption.

With the Tigrian wing of TPLF destroyed, there was no such organization called TPLF in the real sense of the word. Since 2001, therefore, Meles had emerged as the undisputed boss of "TPLF", and the ruthless ruler of Ethiopia. His loyalists like Sebhat Nega and Bereket Simon assumed tremendous power as their conviction to defend Eritrean independence was no less than Meles Zenawi's zeal for his motherland.

The conflict is purely about power, fame and fortune

Unlike the 2001 conflict between Meles and the dissidents that he later wiped out of the political scene of the country, the current conflict is not about the national interests of Ethiopia nor about democracy or human rights. Both the Azeb group and the Sebhat Nega group have more in common in defending Eritrean interests than Ethiopia's. In other words, the budding conflict is purely about power, fame and fortune.

Azeb Mesfin
Azeb Mesfin - She is undoubtedly the "Queen Bee" of the EPRDF colony. Azeb counted on the unsurpassed power of her late husband, Meles Zenawi,and became the most feared and commanding lady over time. Her notoriety reached newer heights when she disgraced veteran TPLF leader Sebhat Nega by removing him unceremoniously from party membership and CEO of EFFORT, the latter being a multi-billion-dollar business conglomerate that Azeb owns today.

Sebhat Nega, as the former TPLF chairman largely seen as the God Father of Meles Zenawi, was humiliated at an EPRDF congress when Azeb poured all nasty words on him, and led to his dismissal. Sebhat, who considers TPLF as his own real estate, should have been waiting for a payback time to punish Azeb, and what a better chance than witnessing the untimely death of Meles Zenawi.

In post-Meles Ethiopia, Sebaht Nega openly blamed Meles for "killing TPLF," and began to talk to former TPLF officials privately that they need to regroup and restore their lost power, fame and fortune. Meles had purged many veteran TPLF leaders in 2001, and Sebhat was now trying to give them a new lease on life. How much has he succeeded is to be seen, but the current conflict among TPLF/EPRDF officials credits Sebhat Nega as the originator.

While Azeb has the support of all those Meles confidantes like Bereket Simon and Gen. Samora Yonus, restless Sebhat Nega claims to have the support of aging TPLFites Seyoum Mesfin, Abay Tsehaye and others along the TPLF rank and file. Many doubt if Sebhat would garner support adequate enough to raise eye-brows among the higher echelon of power.

Abay Woldu - A crocodile of a Man

If Abay Tsehaye, Seyoum Mesfin etc. are written off as cowards who would always desert their camp and join the winners club, Abai Woldu has opened a third front of power struggle. To put things in perspective, the power rivalry is among three groups: Azeb Mesfin/Bereket Simon vs Abai Woldu vs Sebhat Nega.

(To be continued)


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