Ethiopia purges 7 army generals, 240 colonels, 500 senior officers
By Our Staff Writer | July 1, 2011



Gen. Migbe Haile
Brig.-Gen. Migbe Haile was one of the heroes of the Ethio-Eritrean war
ADDIS ABABA - The government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has purged seven army generals, 240 army colonels and nearly 500 commissioned officers from lieutenants to majors, an army source informed Ethiomedia.com this week.

The army generals include Brig. General Teklai Ashebir, Brig. Gen. Migbe Haile, Brig. Gen Abraha Mejmoo'e, Brig Gen. Wedi Roman - veterans of the war with Eritrea and the Derg military regime that they helped topple in 1991. Almost all army generals are former rebels of the ruling Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

The massive purge was carried out after Meles, second-in-command Bereket Simon and army Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Samora Yonus, circulated a directive that urged each soldier to "voluntarily seek early retirement" in order to pave the way for an army that represents multi-ethnic Ethiopia.

The three powerful men later told the retirees that the government had acted in accordance with their voluntary demands.

However, observers say army officers loyal to Gen. Samora, and hence to Meles, were spared of the purge irrespective of their qualifications.

"As usual, Meles launched a double-pronged attack and succeeded," one analyst who wanted to remain anonymous told Ethiomedia. "He hit those he blacklisted as his critics while paved the way for new loyalists."

The first major army purge was in 2001, when hundreds of army officers, including former Chief-of-Staff Major General Tsadkan G. Tensae and former Air Force commander, Major General Abebe Teklehaimanot (aka Jobbe), lost their jobs for being alleged supporters of a dissident group that had sought the complete destruction of the Eritrean regime during the 1998-2000 Ethiopia-Eritrea War but was eaten up by the Meles-Bereket group.

Meles, who is credited with turning Ethiopia into a landlocked nation, has been in power since 1991. His longevity in power is derived from launching brutal crackdowns that obliterate the opposition camp to pieces and draconian laws that slap even journalists with "terrorism charges."


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