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Ethiopia: On ESAT Interview with Sebhat Nega

August 15, 2012

by Kirubeal Bekele

This is very interesting. I thought Sebhat Nega will be on the offensive as he usually does. But in this interview, he was verySbehat Nega was vacillating and was not very sure about the whole thing subdued and mellow. He sounded like he was giving an interview to a friendly media outlet and not feisty at all. He was vacillating and was not very sure about the whole thing. In addition, he was uncharacteristically more polite than usual. It is somewhat challenging to accurately describe what this implies.

But this may mean two things in my opinion. The first one is that Zenawi is dead for real or at least terribly out of commission . Second, the power struggle may be intense within TPLF to replace Zenawi. More ever, Sebhat Nega may not be happy about what is going within TPLF. At the same time, he may also want to make sure the opposition does not take a psychological advantage in this transitional period. Sebhat is generally playing a balancing act to save the system as much as he can. And in addition, he does not sound too friendly toward Bereket.

With all these conflicting news by Sebhat, Bereket and the TPLF media, it is totally safe to assume that Zenawi will no longer return to power even if he is alive. This is just a somewhat reliable and conservative speculation on Zenawi’s disappearance. But this by no means exclude the possibility that Zenawi may be already dead. This will be more clear in the coming days and weeks.

Click here to listen Sebhat’s ESAT interview

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16 Responses to Ethiopia: On ESAT Interview with Sebhat Nega

  1. satenaw

    August 16, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    I listened to Sebhat’s responses to Sisay. I compared this interview with ESAT radio’s interview with Abune Diablos’ aid yesterday. When asked by ESAT radio journalist if his boss is critically ill, Abune Diablos’ aid replied that his boss is well. But the next day (today) we heard that Abune Diablos is dead. When asked if Meles is dead, Sebhat burst into laughter??? This indicates that Meles is already dead. Let me ask one question: Are thses creatures at TPLF human beings or demons???????????

  2. tef

    August 16, 2012 at 6:38 am

    MR. Kirubel your opinion is articulate and to the point. I share your thoughts fully. There won’t be a come back to Legese Zenawi. Sebhat’s laughter said it all.

  3. Hailu

    August 16, 2012 at 2:47 am

    I listened to the interview and that was a splendid job that Sisay did considering the circumstances that the TPLF founder would have cut the interview short if it was confrontational or disrespectful right from the outset. Sisay did a wonderful job that he lulled Sibhat Nega to the main question “Is Meles really alive?” Any intelligent person can clearly understand that Sibhat Nega does not have an evidence to confirm Meles is alive. Sibhat admitted that he did not know where Meles is, how he is doing, if he is in charge etc. These answers from the founder of TPLF and confidant of Meles are the long winded way of saying Meles is dead but I don’t want to reveal it now.

    I think Sisay is a hard working capable journalist and congratulations to him as always.

  4. Shafi Gona

    August 15, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Sebhat N. at his best. He tried to evade, deny and confuse, but nobody will fall to the trap. As he said, he does not seem to have firsthand information about Meles. Given his contacts within the family circle, however, he seems to have released certain information. So it is worth scrutinizing whatever he said.

    It seems that Meles is alive, out of the country and possibily returing to work. The fact that he laughed at the suggestion that Meles is dead shows that he took it as a smart plot to make him and others talk. He has hinted Meles might not return to work since he emphasised that the “deputy” is in charge and will continue to do so. Even if he is sick, he wants Meles to appear to the public and pretend as if he is working while the work is done by his deputy. He wants him to finish his term.

    He also seeme open to Meles’ replacement. He has talked as to how the office is to be filled. From what he said, the guy to replace Meles might possibily be the H. Mariam, the “acting prime minister” now, since Sebhat never mentioned TPLF whose members he resents because they sidelined him. It seems he favours someone from out of TPLF. Note that, he focused, time and again, on EPRDF. He might get what he wants.

    Since no one in the government is able to mention Meles’ health problem, it appears that he simply called it quit pretending to be sick. The main cause is A. Gelaw’s accusation of criminality in the presence of so many degnitaries. Meles is a proud and arrogant highlander with unfatomable degree of ego for respect which he solicits from Ethiopians and foreigners alike – all the time. With the defeat of the biggest African Army, twenty years in power “winning” election after election, uplifting a nation of 90 million from poverty to middle class, etc. Meles considers himself a “leader among leaders” of the world. His ego crushed, Meles cannot see himself serving a nation which laughed by how he reacted when confronted by Gelaw – a regular guy. He is mad at the nation and its people.

  5. Meqoyet

    August 15, 2012 at 10:28 pm

    I share some of the speculations that Sibhat Nega wanted to confuse the opposition as to the whereabouts of the Prime Minister. I guess the interview was per-arranged by some TPLF agents approaching Sisay to call Sibhat. Otherwise Sibhat would have hung up the phone the moment he heard the name ESAT. As we followed the guy was calm and spoke softly. But the interviewer did good job by asking issues that make him uncomfortable. I even felt that he was sobbing at one point.

  6. Thank You Both Sides

    August 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I have heard a DC based famous radio once saying “If any of TPLF members come to our radio for interview, we will be glad. But we will not make a rehearsed interview, we will ask bold questions.”

    This latest interview with Aboy Sibhat is a very good one. I didn’t like Aboy in the past for my strong opposition to his ideas. Here for the record, I just want to thank Ato Sisay Agena and Aboy Sibhat to make the News. All tplf extremest were as always extremely disappointed with this interview. Take your own note. Extremests are always one-sided. Sisay showed his heroic journalism and Aboy Sibhat just entertained questions. The extremest TPLF cliques position is “how on earth can Sibhat talk to ESAT?” Yes, they are extremest. What can you say otherwise?

    Make your judgments on my view. Aboy Sibhat has some grace in Eritrea but I don’t know that if he has in the majority of Ethiopian people. His only last remaining thing to be a loved-person is on his future work, not on his past. My suggestion to him is a topic of new discussion. What if Aboy Sibhat mediates a negotiation between Ethiopia and Eritrea so both countries will have a Tanzania-Zanzibar like co-operation?

    Ato Sibhat said in his own words recently that “We are exporting our principles to other African countries.” I don’t know which county has adopted Ethiopian style. My question to emphasize my above view is Aboy Sibhat what about if you also import very good examples from Tanzania?

    Thank you,

  7. tolla

    August 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    This is for Bulga ga,

    Dear friend you are forgotten what ESAT mean all about. ESAT is a free Media, it is up to you and me to start walking the walk. ESAT is walking properly in my view.

  8. Hamid

    August 15, 2012 at 8:41 am

    I never listened to his previous interviews, but you do not have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that this guy has a brain of 8th grade student. His responses to Sisay’s excellent questions are not that of a politician at any standard. his responses are very naive and full of contradictions. He also lacks minimum decency and intellect required from a politician of his age. I can’t believe he is the best TPLF gangs can come up at their worst time.

  9. zeg fanta

    August 15, 2012 at 7:07 am

    I would like to express my admiration to both the interviewer and the guest, sebhat nega. As far as l am concerned this is the best interview sebhat gave in his entire life, thanks to the great mind of the interviewer who l believed was fair and very professional. All the other shrewed and crooks in the tplf camp must learn from sebhat and give candid info when asked like sebhat. I am not sure why those possibly from adwa were mad with sebat who l believe leveled with Ethiopian people and told the truth. Did they really want him to lie even with matter of one’s death who should be afforded a degnified burial if not in addis in adwa where people possibly cry in stead of dance as it would be the case in any other city? What a culture of lie running deep in the extended families of tplf! Thank you ESAT! You made our day this time, good interview. Allow sebhat to change camp and afford him more of such interviews.

  10. Tenesa

    August 15, 2012 at 6:00 am

    As mentioned in this article, it is quite surprising to see a relaxed and easy going Sibhat Nega instead of the usual combative and dogmatic TPLF veteran in this ESAT interview.

    It is true it possible to hypothesize and read between the lines in this interview. Perhaps, the most important puzzle to crack should be why Sibhat was willing to accept this interview with ESAT. Most probably the answer we are seeking about Zenawi’s disappearance may be easier to find if we know the mystery of Sibhat’s agreement to this interview.

    There may be several scenarios we can consider.

    1) This dogmatic TPLF veteran may be determined to confuse and disorient the opposition and inflict a psychological damage to prevent the rise of any hope and moral uplift. And ESAT is the best media to reach the opposition to launch this mind game.

    2) It may be a deliberate maneuver by Sibhat distract Ethiopians so that they get stuck in continuing to speculate about Zenawi’s disappearance instead of taking a bold and decisive move to exploit the opportunity to remove TPLF out of power. And by doing so, buy time for TPLF to reorient, mobilize, and organize itself with a new leadership and crush any uprising coming from the Ethiopian people in the form of a nationwide revolution.

    3)Sibhat is a man known for independently expressing his own opinion in several occasions before. His statements necessarily do not represent the official positions of TPLF. But TPLF is using his unofficially position to send a message or propaganda without taking any responsibility. Sibhat is the unofficial watch dog and bulldog fighter who can say anything and inflict any damage on behalf of TPLF without legally responsible for his actions.

    4)The other possibility is that Zenawi’s disappearance may also be an opportunity for Sibhat to reestablish TPLF as it once was before it fell under the total control of Zenawi,his wife Azeb,and their few family friends who are currently robbing Ethiopia high and dry. This is where the the issue of power struggle comes in. It is likely, based on Sibhat’s disagreement with Azeb and her clicks, he may be playing a crucial role in the power struggle not to assume power but to put in power those he believes will restore TPLF to its former days before Zenawi totally controlled it. This is a very complicated scenario. We have to consider many players here. The army under General Yonus, the half-Tigryian and half-Ertirean faction, Bereket and his Amhara group, Azeb Mesfin and her possible allies are all involved in this complex scenario. And this requires time to play itself out. And this process will end up one way or another. And that is why TPLF is buying time to finally announce the fate of Zenawi declaring him dead or terribly ill and out of power.

    Last but not least, the best thing for the opposition is to try to exploit this favorable condition to its advantage. It is already a big step that the democratic opposition announced a joint statement recently. Now,the action should start as soon as possible. It should mobilize the Diaspora and Ethiopians at home. Hopefully, we will soon see some developments in this united action.

    The next year or two are critical years for the opposition. Zenawi took at least 15 years to reach this level of total control. It takes some years for a new leader to come out and assume total leadership and control within TPLF. And these are years of opportunity for the opposition to dismantle TPLF out of power. But the work on the ground should begin in earnest now. The future is bright if we are brave and smart enough to seize it.

  11. Bulga ga

    August 15, 2012 at 5:23 am

    I for can’t really see the purpose of this fruitless interview of Sebhat. I am not so sure sbout tbe motto of that of esat and some other elements in the opposition camp. If we do bieve that eoyane is our enemy as a system we should talk and act accordingly. If we still have doubt about it that reflects our lack of seriousness about the whole thing. I think it is time for esat and other to start walking the walk instead of hamping in the bush.

  12. Askale Dama

    August 15, 2012 at 5:01 am

    There is a reason why Sebhat volunteered to give an interview on ESAT while he is burning Feth. Actually, he was being real smart about the whole show.

    1. Sebhat did not add any new fact, not one, on the status of Meles’s death or sickness. He provided infotaiment for our consumption. In fact, he did not take the interview to clarify the death of Meles. He tried to hide his real reaction with laughter but he was saying that he was not about Meles’ death. He was about somethnig else.

    2. What he wanted to do was not even to convince us, the opposition about the stability of the regime. We know how stable or unstable Woyane is and he knows that we don’t base our assessment on his statements.

    He was speaking to woyane supporters, Pro-Woyane Tigreans, and others whose lives are associated with the fate of the regime.

    3. In effect, he assured its followers and dependents that TPLF has the situation under control, there is a smooth transition. Meles is gone, there will arise another Meles. It is both a psychological and PR spin he played.

    He tried to respond to the constitutional question, the lack of institution question, the internal power struggle question, the general state of crises question and so on.

    He tried to pour cold water on the fire of the popular discontent. He tried to assure the continuity of the order for international stakeholders and he wanted to send a truly Woyane like unbeatable message to its Tigrean audience.

    There is a clear message to the opposition. We need to reduce the amount of attention and mental space we give to the Meles drama and focus on the preparation of a national uprising to overthrow this regime.

    Sebhat told us in so many words that they are meeting day and night to restructure and continue woyane rule The rest is detail. We should know what to do.

    We should thank ESAT for the interview because as the saying goes – disturb the grass to force the snake into the open. Sebhat told us a lot not not by the things he said, but by the thnigs he didn’t.

  13. Tenkir

    August 15, 2012 at 4:11 am

    TPLF is continuing to no avail its policy of confusing the Ethiopian people and the international commtunity by releasing conflicting ‘breaking news’. They have announced as breaking news ‘Meles has recovered’ thousands of times. How many times ‘does he recover?’ If what they are saying is right Meles’s health must have relapsed every other minute and then recover every other minute. All cite ‘credible sources’. Interestingly, some of them even have changed the qualification of their sources from ‘credible sources’ to ‘very credible sources’ apparently because their ‘credible sources’ turned out to be not so credible. As the saying goes I believe when I see it. The only way the TPLF can prove that Meles is alive is by showing his current picture or video footage or releasing newly recorded voice. Short of that they cannot fool anybody except their few loyal blind supporters. If he has ‘recovered fully’ as they claim why hide his pictures? Why create such uncertainity and causing such a damage to the economic and other interests of the country? It is either Sebhat and his fellow thugs do not understand the damage the uncertainity is currently causing to the country or they are forced to take the damage (from hiding Meles’s death) because that is a good politics (delaying a little bit longer the inevitable loss of power) as far as their self-interests are concerned. The confused Sebhat is adding yet another layer of confusion to the uncertainity. It is sad that Ethiopia has fallen into the hands of these incredibly selfish and confused thugs who have only been trained how to kill. But better days are ahead and keep the hope alive.

  14. Demo

    August 15, 2012 at 3:27 am

    Well articulated and matured analysis.

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