Ethiopian News and Views.

Ethiopia: The TPLF Regime

The Essence of hanging on power and the possible realistic solution

by Nebiyou A. (Ibro)


Removing ethnic oriented dictators is one of the most difficult tasks opponent forces do face. One of the main reasons is that after the new clique took over power  through armed struggle, the rebel victories were usually translated into the victory of one ethnic group over another ,and this victorious ethnic group became the new privilege class, as their ethnic oriented leaders were forced to rely on their support. Dictators such as Hissen Habre and Idriss Debby of Chad, Samuel Doe of Liberia and Meles zenawi of TPLF, have manipulated ethnic identity to achieve and consolidate power.

Fortunately, Meles Zenawi, who surrounded himself with his ethnic groups and held a tight grip on the Ethiopian people through a divide and rule system, is out of a game.

After two months of time, under a cloak of complete secrecy of meeting over securing the reins of power, TPLF finally reached an agreement on a mode of succession that Hailemariam is the next “Prime Minster”, who is given a window dressing of legality to the succession in front of the parliament.

There is still but an open question. Would Mele’s departure make any difference in the regime? The answer is both yes and no.

Yes, Meles was a synonym for repression, corruption, arbitrariness, a complex phenotype, genocidal maniac, complete absence of rule of law and utter disregard for the most basic human rights. It is good riddance to him since the people of Ethiopia has suffered much, too much and for too long under his tyranny rule.

No, the problem of ethnic based dictatorship is deep. It is obviously in the best interest of the TPLF that Hailemariam became the Prime Minister, and it is all very carefully planned too. Despite the internal fissures, for which Meles is blamed, power is still in the hands of a collective leadership of the hard core groups, behind the scenes.

Of course, over the past two decades, two major dramatic changes have taken place in the TPLF ruling regime, with Meles as its sole architect.

While it was once controlled by the collective leadership of the TPLF, the power became completely under one man rule. After the internal crisis in 2001, he cleared away the influential key figures in the TPLF leadership and EPRDF as well. At the same time, he brought up “yes-men”, whose support he could rely on, including his own wife. On top of that, by controlling the security apparatus and income generating sectors under EFFORT to dominate the political and economic of the country, he wielded more power.

After the rigged may 2005 election, Meles pushed away the remaining old guards, who might possibly be his contender, from his leadership. He prompted instead puppet, whom he changed whenever he wanted, and clipped the wings of anyone who looked as though they were gaining political support. Now, power was effectively confined to a very small inner circle. Outside of the inner circle, private oligarchy was formed, which operate within the orbit of a political patron. Accordingly, the power which gave him to make his own laws has definitely fallen the country into authoritarianism.

For dictators, politics is about keeping political power by any means. Some maintain power through terror, violence, repression and naked use of force applied by huge standing army and security forces. Others maintain power by exploiting ethnic and regional differences via a policy. But, one thing is common for all rulers: They erect a system of absolute control whose success depends on the obedience, submission, assistance and cooperation of their subjects. Indeed, the interrelationship is forthcoming if the rulers provide their cronies with more benefits and positions.

Apparently, members, families, supporters of TPLF regime are given privilege of economic power to accumulate immeasurable wealth at the expense of millions of other Ethiopians . Preferential access to land, granting easier and extended financial terms of its own and being a guarantor of debts obtained from donor agencies, are just  games of political man-oeuvre . Moreover, Students from the region of the ruling class are treated with special advantages and they serve the regime in turn in spying students and safeguarding the regime.

Besides, the regime is the recipient of over three billion dollars a year, particularly those emanating from the USA, Britain, the EU, along with the World Bank. In exchange the west has a strategically placed ally in the horn of Africa which will act when asked to and function as a military outpost for the USA, which uses it as a base to launch drone attacks. Thus, even as his barbaric regime, the regime collects a whopping billions of dollar, from which the bulky amount is used as a tool to consolidate the power and an equal amount socked away in secret bank accounts to serve as a rainy-day fund in the event that they are not comfortable where they are.

On the other hand, the social, political, economic, and religious institutions have been deliberately weakened, subordinated and replaced by new regimented institutions used by the regime to control the society. As a result, the population has been turned into a mass of isolated individuals , who is unable to work together to achieve freedom, to confined in each other , or even to do much of anything at their own initiative. Besides, the preponderant economic dominance, mismanagement and systemic corruption have subjugated the Ethiopian people for rampant poverty. Therefore, the main concern for the millions of Ethiopians became what to eat for that day.

Unfortunately, the past is still with us and the current conditions in today’s regime , which is in the hands of the so- called a collective leadership of TPLF, may be much worse than earlier due to the centralizing impact.  However, there are grave challenges the regime face. The first one is economic: The inflation rate has reached to its highest level. The second is politic: The division and internal crisis within the TPLF ruling regime has made them frustrated. The third is social: The Muslim community, which is being caught up in government man-oeuvres to forcefully enlist followers for al-Ahbash, became a headache for the regime. What is to be done next, and how?

Until recently, the political landscape in general and the opposition forces in particular was suffering from lack of real unity, for many reasons. This created uproar and wide condemnation from the people within and outside Ethiopia. Yes, some sort of unity here and there was forged or attempted, but never held its ground to the true meaning of unity.

For me, change in the body of politics is part of paving the way for unity. There is no unity among us means no change in our thinking, in our political coalitions, in our understanding of unity, in our view and realities, in our old practices and rules, on how to bridge the generational gap etc.

The priority should be, therefore, realizing what is achievable and whether it is in the interest of the whole nation. Underlying the principle of unity, achieving our people with both freedom and peace requires great strategic skill, organization, and planning.

Unity at this time of uncertainty and opportunity is crucial for two reasons. First, It is a means of gaining political power: The opposition group strength is relative to regime strength. Thus, Understanding regime context is the first step in any frame work that attempts to explain opposition strength. In this aspect, we have to foster unity, because our unity sweep away the trait of fear, mistrust in our political culture and division. Moreover, It uses to dismantle the mentality, politics and historical differences that had stood as a wall for years between us and prevented us from seeing Eye to eye. Therefore, Closer ties would benefit the opposition forces to have power capacity that make themselves exceptionally strong to challenge the regime genuinely , to overcome ethnic divisions and rivalries and to influence on the sources of power that the regime is able to obtain from his subjects.

Second, Unity is a way to come to common goals: Due to the brutal ethnic dictatorship of the TPLF regime, most of our people become weak, lacks self-confidence, and is incapable of resistance. Unity among different forces makes our people to put the vision together, to band himself together, to become awaken and enlightened and the need to be thinking about change and salvation. As a result, a powerful internal resistance movement will be created inside the country, which put the regime under international pressure. From every angle, unity is a best insurance to speed up the downfall of the TPLF regime, and to pave the way for establishing a future democratic Ethiopia. Be part of it!


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