Meles wins out over dissident threat

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has effectively foiled a disruption attempt by a group of central committee members. The central committee members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) - Meles’s own party - walked out of a meeting convened to assess the performance of the front over the last 10 years. According to the pro-government Walta Information Centre web site, 15 out of the 28 members of the TPLF central committee voted that “the greatest threat that Ethiopia was facing was corruption and undemocratic tendencies”. Meles said the remaining, dissenting members had at that point insisted that the meeting be aborted and a general meeting of the TPLF called. Addressing a press conference for local journalists, the prime minister said the confusion caused by the splinter group had “posed a grave danger to the country”, but this had been resolved, according to Walta. Meles said the move by the group was “a violation of democratic principles and the statute of the front”. Flanked at a press conference by Kuma Demeksa, leader of the Oromiya Regional State, and Abate Kisho, leader of the South Ethiopia Nations Nationalities’ and Peoples’ Regional State, Meles said the triumph over the dissenting members represented “a new political tradition in Ethiopia”. He was also accompanied by Dr Kasu Ilala, deputy prime minister and economic adviser, and Adisu Legese, chairman of the Amhara National Democratic Movement and vice-chairman of the EPRDF. Meles also retains the support of the chief of staff, Tsadkan Gebretensae. Walta said the dissenting TPLF central committee members constituted some of the most senior in the leadership of the TPLF and the EPRDF, including former defence minister, Siye Abraha Hagos; Tewolde Woldemariam, Gebru Asrat, Alemseged Gebreamlak and Abay Tsehaye.

Meanwhile, a statement by the International Committee of Tigrayans for Democracy (ICTD) has accused Meles of defending Eritrean interests at the expense of Ethiopia’s national sovereignty and stability. “Meles has single-handedly carried out a coup and overthrown the democratically elected regional government of Tigray... [to] enable him to rule Ethiopia unchallenged, and attract his Eritrean wolves back,” the diaspora opposition group said.