Ethiopia: The Hailemariam Desalegn Factor

September 10, 2012

by Yared Ayicheh, September 9, 2012

The Meles era is gone. EPRDF was addicted to Meles’ lies and delusions for 21 years, and now, as an organization it isThat is where Hailemariam Desalegn comes in going through withdrawal symptoms. The bewilderment its members and supporters feel is like that of a drug addict who is faced with life without drugs. EPRDF has no choice but to go through a process of adjustment and adaptation of a new organizational culture without Meles at the helm.

That is where Hailemariam Desalegn comes in. The delay in confirming Hailemariam as a Prime Minister has fueled many conspiracies. Here I would like to frame the possible scenarios with or without Hailemariam as a Prime Minister.

New Blood

Hailemariam is a new blood in the EPRDF. His background as a post armed struggle member of EPRDF’s leadership by itself gives him a whole different new mentality. It is a well known psychological fact that those who participate in a lengthy armed conflict will be impacted by the experience of violence. Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder (PTSD) is one that is common among those who go through traumatic experiences such as armed conflict. Hailemariam is free from PTSD, Meles was not.

Another positive dimension of Hailemariam is his spiritual life. Hailemariam is a protestant Christian and Ethiopian Protestants are by large very committed to biblical fundamentals. Hailemariam, however, does separate religion and politics. In an interview he did with an Ethiopian Protestant magazine, he clearly asserted that his religious views will not hold him back from implementing his politics.

Major Crisis

Even though it is a wishful thinking to expect Hailemariam to be the political opposite of Meles, it is reasonable to expect Hailemariam to be less toxic and more reconciliatory in his political tone. But this is all assuming Hailemariam will be elected to be the chairman of the EPRDF and there by clinching the Prime Minister’s position. If Hailemariam is, for what ever reasons, undermined and does not to get the PM position that will be the beginning of a major crisis in the EPRDF coalition.

EPRDF, with a marginalized Hailemariam, will politically get into uncharted territories. Hailemariam party, Southern Ethiopia People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM), holds 122 seats in the Ethiopian Parliament. Having Hailemariam ‘demoted’ from the perceived Prime Ministers’ position that he is expected to get is a political blow to the 122 SEPDM members in the Parliament. That is an opportunity Ginbot 7, OLF and others will undoubtedly see as a great political opportunity due to the Southern State’s geographic location and large population.

17 Million Protestants for Hailemariam?

Another dimension to a ‘demoted’ Hailemariam is the religious factor. Ethiopia’s politics is already at a tipping point of turning from ethnic politics to religious politics. The EPRDF has touched the nerves of Orthodox Christians in 1991 by removing the Orthodox Pope, even though the Church’s rule clearly says the Pope can not be replaced while he is alive. In addition to that the excursion of the Meles’ administration in to the Waldiba Monastery’s territory for the production of sugarcane has ignited an Orthodox anger at the EPRDF.

The Ethiopian Muslim have recently been protesting in the streets of Addis Ababa, in tens of thousands or more, demanding the Government stop interfering in their internal affairs, specifically in the Governments attempt to change the leaders of the Ethiopian Muslim association, by placing leaders with a doctrine from an imported Islamic teaching called Ahabisim. Scores of Muslims were killed in Aresi and Addis Ababa. More than 15 Muslim religious leaders are arrested from various parts of Ethiopia. Ethiopian Muslims have expressed their firm stand that the Government must get its hands out of the affairs of Ethiopian Muslims, and that they will not back down from their demand, whatever it will cost them.

According to Ethiopia’s Census 2007 Ethiopia’s Protestants are more than 17 million. If EPRDF undermines Hailemariam and that is perceived by Protestants as an attack on Hailemariam’ faith, the ERPDF will be facing a coalition of political Orthodox-Muslim-Protestants which will be easily exploited by the opposition, specifically the Diaspora opposition, which is willing to use any political tactic to unseat the EPRDF.

Hailemariam Joins the Opposition

If Hailemariam is either ‘demoted’ from the Prime Minister’s position, or he does not officially get to exercise fully the Prime Ministers’ constitutional powers, there by being manipulated and controlled in the background by senior EPRDF heavyweights, one possibility is Hailemariam may defect or resign from the Prime Minister’s position. And if that happens, again, the Diaspora opposition will welcome Hailemariam with open arms touting his defection or resignation as the demise of the EPRDF, there by pushing EPRDF into an implosion.

Hailemariam is the best thing for the EPRDF and the Opposition, but mostly for Ethiopians who seek a moderate and positive leader, unlike the fascist Mengistu or the politically toxic Meles.

5 Responses to Ethiopia: The Hailemariam Desalegn Factor

  1. tesfe

    September 29, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Woyane has said, even if we lose our great leader,we have millions of Meleses among us.Melese, with his ghost in the body of millions, will live and rule you.Even Hailemariam Desalegn has the spirit of Melese and will live speaking the same as the late Melese.The only difference is Melese speaks Tigrigna and Hailemariam Desalegn speaks Wolaytigna.The rest is thesame and Woyanes’s formula which was crafted in DEDEBIT will be the rule of the day in Ethiopia.

  2. aghere

    September 17, 2012 at 2:36 am

    aghere September 17, 2012 YIMESLEGNAL EGEMITALEHU

    These are the majic words of so called Ethiopian intellectuals, who are analysing the political weather of Ethiopia.

    Yimeslegnal is the one which we hear repeatedly these days.Well WOYANE has no vocabulary that define and use YIMESLEGNAL.They have told to the peolple of Ethiopia the guide line for ruling the country.The formula of late Melese Zenawi is the rule to the day in Ethiopia.It is demonstrated with the promotion of most generals from one ethnic.They have said what the late Prime Minister was propagating all his life.There is no YIMESLEGNAL in the WOYANE mind-set.I really appreciate them for they are not telling you indirectly but clearly and show you practically.The herd is every time going with YIMESLEGNAL.Please ,herd,What did you get which seems to you right in the WOYANE mind-set?They have told the herd that the formula is already set and will be applied in the future.You will remain with your YIMESLEGNAL and beg freedom from the WOYANE.You will not get it unless and otherwise you have your own saying.It is not without rational formula Hailemariam Desalegni is picked by Melese?He is faithful and good errand boy who could listen to his bosses and accomplish his assignment.He will remain faithful even for the ghost of MELESE ZENAWI.

    EGEMITALEHU is again meaningless word for the WOYANE.You can imagine,speculate,devise or dream but you will not reach to the formula of WOYANE.WOYANE has devised the programme before it controlled Ethiopia and we have seen it being applied before our own eyes.

    Eritrea has gone.The Ethiopian army dismantled and the new one ethnic army that protects its own interest is installed.The land of Ethiopia is freely given to the Sudan.The fertile land of Ethiopia is given to the so called investors.1o,ooo tone of Ethiopian coffee robbed and unaccounted.The late Prime Minister has witnessed that even his hand is in it and no need to dig the issue to find out the responsible individuals before the law.Many Ethiopians are in prisons all over the land and some have disappeared for ever.etc.

    What do you imagine the herd?When 17 Ogaden people were excuted by WOYANE junta even after the death of Melese,what do you imagine?Do you have formula to decipher the formula of WOYANE instead of speculating ?

    You have the right to speculate.You have the right to imagine.You have the right to dream but you will not get a change in the mind-set of WOYANE.Woyane has said, even if we lose our great leader,we have millions of Meleses among us.Melese, with his ghost in the body of millions, will live and rule you.Even Hailemariam Desalegn has the spirit of Melese and will live speaking the same as the late Melese.The only difference is Melese speaks Tigrigna and Hailemariam Desalegn speaks Wolaytigna.The rest is the same and Woyanes’s formula which was crafted in DEDEBIT will be the rule of the day in Ethiopia.


  3. Bahiru

    September 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    it is amazing how meles decided to groom hailemariam against the wishes of the hord core tplf. meles was reportedly wary of tigrayans incessant nagging and demand on meles to be given a looting opportunity. Meles was quoted as being “sick and tired” of Tigres.

  4. Askale Dama

    September 10, 2012 at 2:57 am

    More, the issues surrounding Muslims and Waldiba are about state interference in religious affairs. They are not about the politics of religion. People are demanding their rights not to be violated by the government Hailemariam. Also, If Hailemariam is a true Christian, he shouldn’t be serving a genocidal regime. All in all, your analysis makes huge unfounded assertions and projections.

  5. Alem

    September 10, 2012 at 2:07 am

    1. Assuming your Protestant Christian population of 17 million is correct, not all are voting age.
    2. Those who vote do not necessarily vote the same way.
    3. Hailemariam’s faith should not be the issue here. The issue ought to be if he is a good leader for all Ethiopians.
    4. You sounded like you are eager to see the nation divided up into Orthodox, Muslim, and Protestant. It is sad. I suggest that you take time to think through before sharing your view.