Hailemariam Desalegn, can the figurehead Prime Minister stop Ethiopia’s implosion?

by Sophia Tesfamariam

The legitimacy and viability of the minority regime in Ethiopia is the staple of conversations amongst Ethiopians and Horn analysts these days. The center of the discussions is Hailemariam Desalegn, who is said to be Meles Zenawi’s handpicked successor. I would venture to say that he is just a figurehead. As I have stated in the past the entrenched regime remains in the hands of card carrying Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) members who are managing the government along with their foreign advisors, behind the scenes. For brevity’s sake, allow me to present these basic facts which prove my assertion that he is just a figure head Prime Minister with no real power to speak of.

1.      Despite the grandiose and bombastic explanations about democracy in Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Constitution, it is clear from the statement presented by the new Prime Minister that his was an assigned post. In his acceptance speech at the EPRDF meeting, he clearly used the Amharic word “bememedebe”-which means my assignment as opposed to  “bememerete”- which would mean he was elected


2.      In his speech he also told the audience that he would implement fully the letter and spirit of Meles Zenawi’s vision and transformative agenda…meaning that he does not have vision or any agenda of his own.


3.      Shortly after Meles Zenawi died, while Desalegn was the Acting Prime Minister, several members of the Tigrayan nationality were given  promotions in the Ethiopian army-giving the TPLF full and effective control of the Ethiopia’s Armed Forces. Desalegn was powerless to prevent them from doing so.


4.      Fasil Nahom, who served as Meles Zenawi’s adviser has also remained as Desalegn’s adviser. It should be recalled that Nahom was a card carrying member of Menghistu Hailemariam’s Communist party for 14 years.


5.      Tseghai Berhe, former President of Tigray, is now Desalegn’s Security Advisor.


6.      Arkebe Oqbay, another card carrying member of the TPLF is serving as his Information Advisor.


7.      Military and Security and Economic Institutions in Ethiopia, as well as key diplomatic posts are also controlled by the TPLF.


a.      Getachew Assefa-Chief of Security

b.      Samora Younis-Chief of Staff and de-facto Defense Minister

c.       Abay Tsehaye-Another card carrying member of the TPLF, head of Sugar Sector and 10 other factories in Ethiopia

d.      Seyoum Mesfin-CEO of all Chinese funded billion dollar projects in Ethiopia. Also moonlights as Ethiopia’s Ambassador to China

In a 28 April 2008 American Embassy cable entitled “Revolutionary Democracy”, Sebhat Nega explains why the TPLF must have total and complete control of Ethiopia and all its institutions.  Let us take a look at what each of them told the Americans about Ethiopia:

“…Sabhat described Ethiopia as a “pre-capitalist society” with virtually no middle class and only a minimal working class. It is incumbent on the TPLF to exhibit the leadership required to transform Ethiopia into a capitalist society. The limited middle class fuels competition within the economy which “can undermine political stability,” Sabhat explained. But, the real “enemies” of the state are the “rent collectors.” Therefore, “the revolutionary nationalist elite intellectuals” in the TPLF have the burden of creating an environment among the peasantry to foster the emergence of a “liberal bourgeoisie” and its affiliated political parties (“after a few elections”) which will achieve Ethiopia’s development objectives and thereby eliminate the need for the TPLF/EPRDF’s role altogether. “Without this strategy,” Sabhat concluded “Ethiopia will disintegrate…”

That is the fear mongering and lies that TPLF has used to justify its repressive hold on the suffering Ethiopian people. It doesn’t help when their new Prime Minister shares such contempt. Here is what the cable says about him:

“…Hailemariam Desalegn, chairman of the Southern Ethiopia People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM), has argued to Post that due to poor education and illiteracy the Ethiopian public is too underdeveloped to make a well reasoned, informed decision, and so Revolutionary Democracy is the political bridge by which the “enlightened leaders” can lead the people to democracy…”

Hailemariam Desalegn is said to be “educated”, “humble” and “soft-spoken”-nice qualities to have- Unfortunately he is encircled by TPLF cadres who monitor and control his every move.   As a leader of a country in turmoil, and completely out of his control, what chance does he have to hold Ethiopia together? None that a figurehead can….

May God give him strength to do right by Ethiopia and her long suffering people!

This entry was posted in African News, Ethiopia News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply