The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa on Tuesday rejected allegations by a founding member of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that the United States was involved in the appointment of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who took the helm of the ruling party on March 2018.
At a conference organized by Mekele University over the weekend, the retired Tigrayan official, Sebhat Nega said he had “no doubt” that the US government had played an active role in pushing the appointment of Abiy Ahmed. He offered no evidence to support the allegations.
The finger-pointing comes as many TPLF officials who felt side-lined escalate rhetorical attack against the chairman of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed.
U.S. Embassy spokesman in Addis Ababa, Nicholas Barnett said “I want to be perfectly clear that any claims of U.S. involvement in the selection process of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia are completely baseless,” speaking to VOA Horn of Africa Service. He said the U.S believes both in theory and practice in respecting Ethiopia’s sovereignty and the right of individuals to vote for their own leaders. “We see Prime Minister Abiy’s election as chairman of EPRDF as reflection of people’s interest for reform, representative political system and participative democracy. We certainly support the Prime Minister’s reform agenda. But we had no role to play in his election,” he said.
Sebaht Nega was commenting to a presentation by Berekt Simoen, another retired figure of the EPRDF who claimed that one of the reasons for the escalating violence in the country is the increasing foreign intervention. Berekt named the Eritrean president Isaias Afewerki as an example whom he said was meddling in the country’s internal affairs, mentioning his “Game over for TPLF officials” remark.
In a reaction to Bereket, Sebhat Nega took the charge even further, implicating Donald Yamamoto, a senior African diplomat in the Trump administration and currently serving as U.S. ambassador to Somalia in directly involving in Abiy’s election as chairman of the ruling party on March 2018. “Many of us have opposed that intervention, saying the US would not choose a chairman for us, including you, Bereket,” he said. “Who was that American ambassador who has a Japanese face? He came in person and we knew that he was officially engaged in the election process,” Sebhat said.
Dr. Merera Gudina, the chairman of the opposition Oromo Federalist Congress, says the cause of the country’s security problems is conflict within the ruling party, manifested by the faction who stood against the ongoing reform movement. “The real threat isn’t foreign intervention but it is rather the fact that EPRDF members are not in agreement with each other to advance the political reform. In a bid for power, one faction attempts to push it forward, another backward, throwing the country into unprecedented chaos.”
Merera cited the example of Abdi Iley, the former Somali state president currently behind bars, who he described was the regime’s security apparatus stooge. “He has been the chiefly responsible for causing the conflict in Somali and Oromo region that lasted for more than a year and half, producing the displacement of one million people. Even after his arrest, the violence has not ended yet.”
“Today in the large area covering from Borena to Chinakson, there are medley of armed groups freely moving around. According to some reports I’ve received, the defence force has been turning a blind eye when they were burning and plundering villages, using heavy artillery. On should ask, who is backing them? Who is financing them?”
“Similarly, the conflict characterized as ethnic in Wollega-Gumuz border is much more complex than it presented. Some even talk about the presence of secret military camps in the area. Here it is said more than 200,000 people have been displaced. Who are these armed people, where are they getting the arms from? They are not foreign forces, rather domestic ones who oppose the pace of the change, bent on destabilizing the country ,” Merera said.