When Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced a six month long State of Emergency on October 9, it was obvious that the country’s deteriorated internal situations are getting out of control. Not surprisingly though, the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF), the hard core of the coalition EPRDF, was equally in its own state of crisis.
According to the African Intelligence report, the TPLF central committee, including senior officers and the old guard, has been in an extraordinary crisis meeting since October 23, following the breakdown of a critical mediation effort between the organization’s two bitter rival factions: the Abay Woldu vs. Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael.
Abay Woldu, TPLF Chairman and President of Tigray regional state led the Mekelle faction where as Dr. Debreatsion Gebremichael, Vice Chairman of TPLF and Deputy Prime Minister led the Addis Ababa faction.
These two thugs have been at daggers drawn since the party’s 12th conference in August 2015 but since the extraordinary meeting in late September, when Debreatsion insisted that Abay Woldu hand over the reins, their rivalry and animosity threatens the very existence of the party.
Tension was so high that around the third week of September, W/ro Tirfu Kidanemariam, Abay Woldu’s wife, a former member of the TPLF executive committee and currently Ethiopia’s ambassador to Australia, came to the rescue of her husband. At a mediation meeting that was held in Addis Ababa Sheraton Hotel, however, W/ro Tirfu was not invited.
The Mekele meeting was co-chaired by three party veterans who had been ousted from the central committee in 2013 and 2015 as part of the plan to rejuvenate the leadership initiated by the late but still omnipresent Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. They are Abay Tsehaye, Roman Gebre-Sellasie and Tewolde Berhe who will have their work cut out, so high is the tension.
Moreover, this worry is expressed in a video by Meles Zenawi’s daughter, Semhal Meles Zenawi, which is doing the rounds on the social networks. In it, she violently attacks the leaders of the TPLF, accusing them of destroying the country.
Her mother, Azeb Mesfin, who obtained the second highest score in the internal election to the central committee at the latest conference, snubbed the party’s latest meetings as an expression of her displeasure.
While it was shaken by such internal crisis and popular discontent, the regime thought fabricating a good tabloid story about Eritrea will somehow redeem the morale of its increasingly nervous supporters. There comes the bogus story of two Eritrean pilots defecting to Tigray with their military jets.
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The story was first created by a certain TPLF affiliated website called Awramba Times without giving any facts or details on the alleged defection. In fact, the story was recycled from its own 2013 bogus story about the defection of two Eritrean pilots to “Djibouti with their jets”.
After challenged on social media for using fake photo of the said fighter jet, Awramba updates its original story by replacing the Mig-29 fighter jet picture with a Zlin-143-102 plane, which resembles one of the pesticide spraying aircrafts in Eritrea.
Since the story didn’t get the intended traction online, TPLF had to use one of its card holding member in Addis Ababa, who is also a reporter for the Associated Press. As always, this AP reporter pulls questionable sources such as the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO), an anti-Eritrea armed group that was created in 2009 by Ethiopia, to give credence to his stories on Eritrea.
So far, it is the BBC’s Marry Harper that made a little effort to challenge this Ethiopian made propaganda story. When she reached Getachew Reda, the Ethiopia government spokesperson, he simply “declined to comment“. Eritrea’s Information Minister, rather, dismissed the allegation as “rubbish”.
“Yemane Ghebremeskal told me,” said Marry Harper, “this is not the first time that the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organisation has made such false allegations.”
The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) and the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) have listed RASDO as a terrorist organization for its years of terrorist acts against civilian targets inside Eritrea.
GTD, for instance, has recorded the following terrorist acts committed by RSADO and Democratic Movement for the Liberation of the Eritrean Kunamas (DMLEK), another groups that Ethiopia organize, finance, harbor for its destabilization agenda:
- 02/15/2010: On Monday, in Asmara, Maekel, Eritrea, rebels of the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization (RSADO) attacked the 28th Sub-division military camp. It was unknown if the attack caused any damage. Seventeen intelligence agents were killed and 20 others were injured in the attack. The 28th sub-division military camp in Asmara, Eritrea was targeted in this attack.
- 6/01/2008: On Sunday, a military vehicle ferrying food rations was blown up after Red Sea Afars Democratic Organization members attacked soldiers in Morad, Eritrea. No casualties were reported. A military truck carrying food rations was targeted.
- 06/01/2008: On Sunday, four Eritrean soldiers, including a senior commander, were killed and more than 10 others wounded when Red Sea Afars Democratic Organization members attacked them in Morad, Eritrea. Eritrean soldiers were targeted.
- 11/05/2007: The Democratic Movement for the Liberation of the Eritrean Kunamas (DMLEK) destroyed the office of the Shembeko town administration with an RPG in Western Eritrea. No casualties were reported.
- 11/05/2007: Militants using firearms from the Democratic Movement for the Liberation of the Eritrean Kunamas (DMLEK) attacked government soldiers, killing or wounding fifteen of them in Mlzay, Eritrea.
- 02/25/2009: On Wednesday, in Haykota, Gash-Barka, Eritrea, a bomb killed two civilians and injured eight others at a restaurant in the semi-urban centre. The restaurant was damaged in the attack. No group claimed responsibility. A restaurant was targeted in Haykota, Gash-Barka, Eritrea.
- In 2003, British geologist Timothy Nutt was slain as he worked in Eritrea, by the Eritrean Islamic Jihad, one of the groups financed, harbored and supported by the regime in Ethiopia.