Updates: On New PM, Fuel Protest, Negotiation, and Real Change Only When TPLF/EPRDF’s Security Sector is Disbanded

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13/03/2018

By Lilian Beshewamyeleh 

Figure source: ACLED 

On New PM: The Executive Council of the incumbent EPRDF is discussing various issues including the possible replacement of PM Hailemariam Desalegn, who resigned last month.  According to sources, there were demands in the meeting for Hailemariam to continue until August 2018 and elect the PM after that. The likeliest scenario is, however, according to to the Front’s and the international experience for the Deputy PM, Demeke Mekonen, to assume the Chairmanship of the Front and the premiership of the country. Given current realities that is the freezing of the civilian administration and the placement of military rule under the so called Command Post, the new PM will have no power at all. Most analysts had assumed that Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the Chairman of the OPDO, was likely to be nominated in this meeting but the sources state that Abiy was the most criticized by most of the old guards of the Front. Again, whoever is elected, he/she will only have a nominal post.

Fuel Protest: The fuel protest called to block the transport and delivery of fuels across Ethiopia from March 13-20, 2018 has been partially active in some parts of the country. Fuel transporting companies parked their cars in towns and garages fearing attacks by protesters. Visibly in Addis Abeba, there were long queues of vehicles rushing to fill their tankers after the protest calls were circulated on social media and word of mouth. Some petrol stations have already run out of fuels.  The Reporter Newspaper, often accused for being pro-TPLF/EPRDF media, has today reported that tanker trucks were accompanied by soldiers of the Command Post to transport fuels yesterday. The next few days will show the effectiveness of the campaign. If the fuel blockade is fully implemented, it is possible that it will highly affect a wide array of sectors and life including transportation, power, communication, education, health and food sectors.

Negotiation: We have learned that several senior and popular Ethiopians working in various international organisations in the Diaspora have offered both the incumbent and opposition forces a negotiation package. Some self-interested mediators have already arrived in Addis Abeba from various parts of the world aiming to find an immediate solution to the crises in Ethiopia, which according to them “is in the mid of the conflict escalation stage.” It is not yet evident if the mediators have received green lights from both sides or who they have included.

Real Change Only When TPLF/EPRDF’s Security Sector is Disbanded: The indications show that the incumbent in Ethiopia is preparing for some form of dialogue or discussion with opposition forces and protesters that it has once accused of being terrorists and untouchable. Given the incumbent’s track record in previous peace deals and ceremonial negotiations, it is now likely that the regime will use this opportunity to trick the opposition forces and elongate its time in power. Therefore, as we did recommend in our recent brief opposition and protesting voices should demand the immediate disband of the current Ethiopian security sector/structure and formation of an all-inclusive, merit-based care taker security apparatus as a precondition of the negotiations. By the security sector we mean the military, federal police, the intelligence, and the justice system such as the courts and the prosecutors. To wipe out all the departments and staff members is not practical, therefore, the focus is on the leadership and mid-level officials in the security sector. They should all be replaced by ethnically-representative, trained, and respected opposition representatives who will lead the caretaker security sector until negotiations and peace deals are finalized. The power brokers and the deep state of the incumbent in Ethiopia is located within this sector, rather than within any single official such as the PM. Peace or the road to peace can only be reached when the current ethnically unrepresentative, corrupt, arbitrary and human rights abusing security sector is replaced with a caretaker security apparatus, that protects the national security of the country and facilitates the negotiated transition in the interim. Point is: there will never be real change in Ethiopia’s current political quagmire unless the current security sector/apparatus is completely disbanded or frozen and replaced.