Mola Asghedom’s sudden defection to Ethiopia through Sudan has become a hot topic of discussion among Ethiopians but the conflicting reports that emerge on the possible causes and number of fighters that accompanied the rebel leader are getting yet controversial.
According to the Ethiopian government statement, the total number of fighters that crossed into Ethiopia through Sudan exceeds well over 700. The announcement also described Mola’s move as a Great Victory. The statement further mentioned the return of Mola Asghedom to Ethiopia was a result of the constant secret contacts he established with the Ethiopian intelligence for over a year.
TPDM Deputy Chairman, Ato Mekonen Tesfay, rather rejected the narrative as pure propaganda and a complete exaggeration.
In an interview he made today with the Voice of America Tigrigna Service, Ato Mekonen said the numbers, motives and the facts behind the defection are well exaggerated and used for propaganda and political expediency by the Ethiopian regime.
During the last TPDM executive meeting, Mola Asghedom has been heavily criticized for lack of leadership and capacity in leading the struggle to a result. To the surprise of Mola Asghedom, the majority of the TPDM executive committee voted in favor of incorporating TPDM into a broader multi-ethnic united front with the other opposition forces, and that doesn’t bode well with the mole rebel leader.
Mola Asghedom’s defection comes barely three days after the formation of a united coalition movement known as the Salvation of Ethiopia through Democracy (ሃገር ኣድን ንቅናቄ) between Tigray Peoples Democratic Movement (TPDM), Arbegnoch Ginbot 7 for Unity and Democratic Movement (AGUDM), Afar People’s Liberation Movement (APLM), and the Amhara Democratic Force Movement (ADFM).
As if that is not enough, the TPDM executive committee reportedly voted again in favor of Prof. Berhanu Nega from the Arbegnoch Ginbot 7 as Chairman of the Salvation Coalition (ሃገር ኣድን ንቅናቄ) while Mola Asghedomto be his Deputy.
Such repeated rejection by his own movement is a sign enough for the renegade General to have a second thought before it is too late. The votes clearly jeopardized his power ambition with in the movement once and for all.
Ato Mekonen in his interview clarifies that the fighters who crossed to Sudan with Mola Asghedom knows nothing about the grand scheme as they were only told to get ready for celebrating the Ethiopian new year in one undisclosed camp like they used to.
Asked if the splintered group ever get resistance from the Eritrean Defence Forces, Ato Mekonen said “there were no Eritrean forces in the area as this happened to areas closer to the Sudanese border. However, when some of the TPDM fighters realized the sinister scheme, a fight broke out among them and Mola and his few supporters have been forced to save their lives by escaping towards Sudanese border town of Hamdait.”
The Deputy Chairman also said that the number of fighters that crossed into Sudan with Mola Asghedom are very few and the 700 or so that was reported by the Ethiopian government is purely an exaggeration.
The first pictures of Mola Asghedom and his defected fighters that was released by a certain Sudanese media shows their numbers at a little over 100 fighters. However, a day later, another picture and armature video released by the Ethiopian government shows a relatively large number of people, wearing civilian cloth, entering the Ethiopian border town.
According to the UN Monitoring report, TPDM has an army of over 20,000 inside Eritrea. Therefore, the lose of 100 or 700 fighters in such a dubious way won’t affect the front and its struggle a bit.
As per the Deputy Chair Mekonen Tesfay, it was in fact a blessing in disguise. “Now that the main obstacle towards the unification and overall struggle against the Ethiopian regime is gone, the struggle will continue in full force and TPDM will join the Coalition movement with all of its fighters.”
Listen to Ato Mekonen Tesfay’s VOA Interview here: