Opposition Detailed Tigrayan Domination

93.5% of all key military positions are occupied by ethnic Tigrayans

Ethiopian opposition group details ‘domination’ of army by premier’s tribe

Ethiopian EPRDF

An Ethiopian woman holds her child next to an election poster of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front at the Dodota food distribution centre near Harar, in eastern Ethiopia, May 6, 2005. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi warned that a victory for the opposition in May 15 elections could lead to Rwanda-style bloodshed, accusing his opponents of trying to foment ethnic hatred. REUTERS/Andrew Heavens

Text of press release issued by Ethiopian opposition Movement for Justice, Freedom and Democracy (Ginbot 7) on 30 May, 2009; published by Ginbot 7 official website 6 May, 2009; subheadings as published

Since day one of its active political life, Ginbot 7 [exiled opposition Movement for Justice, Freedom and Democracy] has repeatedly informed the international community that the ethnocentric political and economic policies of the TPLF [Tigray People’s Liberation Front, reference to the incumbent government in Ethiopia] regime are the primary sources of violence and instability in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa at large.

Despite the different masks that this crafty regime wears to dupe donor nations and other stakeholders, Ginbot 7 has delved deep into the inner workings of the TPLF regime and exposed the toxic ethnic policies that consumed the life of many Ethiopians and forced many others to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. Unlike any other time in the nation’s history, a minority ethnic group that comprises no more than six per cent of the total population (80 million) controls the political, economic and social life of 94 per cent of the Ethiopian people. In the last month, the military intelligence wing of Ginbot 7 has uncovered vital information that substantiates its past claims that all high-level military positions in the Ethiopian army are asymmetrically dominated by a minority ethnic group led by the TPLF elite).

Article 88, Sub-Article 2 of the Ethiopian constitution states: “The state shall have the duty to respect the identity of the nations, nationalities and peoples and on the basis of this, promote equality, unity and fraternity among them”. However, despite what the constitution says, in the last 18 years, the political, social and economic affairs of Ethiopia has been disproportionately controlled by a handful of Tigrayan elites. For example, 93.5 per cent of all key military positions in the Ethiopian National Defence Forces are occupied by ethnic Tigrayans, far in excess of their six per cent representation among the Ethiopian population.

Historically, the ethnic composition of the Ethiopian army was evenly distributed between the different ethnic groups. Besides, a military tradition of the Ethiopian armed forces, which spans back through the nation’s long history, was the ultimate example of a system based on meritocracy. However, under the TPLF regime, since the Ethiopian army is organized to defend the ruling party from the people, incompetent officers who are loyal and ethnically related to the ruling party elites occupy, almost, all key positions in the army.

In 1991, when the TPLF regime controlled Addis Ababa, economic development, political inclusion and ethnic equality were its three very important promises that convinced the Ethiopian people to change their heart and give the incoming new regime the benefit of the doubt, despite all signs that TPLF was a party of one ethnic group. In fact, it was not just the Ethiopian people that temporarily trusted the TPLF party; the entire free world that stood with the Ethiopian people during the dark days of communism trusted the minority TPLF regime as a vector of peace, equality and democracy in Ethiopia. Today, after 18 long years, the Ethiopian people and many in the free world realize that the guerrilla movement that took power preaching liberal democracy and free market economy is neither democratic nor capitalist.

In the past three weeks, Ginbot 7 has issued a plethora of press releases and public statements exposing the entrenched corruption of the TPLF regime, which includes political exclusiveness, nepotism and absolute control of power. As it was clearly indicated in many of the public statements, ethnic favouritism and nepotism are rampant in every aspect of public life in Ethiopia, leading to deep disaffection and ethnic polarization in a nation packed with a large number of ethnic groups. Ginbot 7 fully understands that when channelling multi-million-dollar aid packages to Ethiopia, the intention of donor nations is to finance economic development in Ethiopia and to feed its growing population. However, a good deal of the aid package is used by the regime for political purposes that neither benefits the poor nor stimulates economic development. The grave concern of Ginbot 7 and other Ethiopian progressive forces is not that the world is helping Ethiopia, but that these donor nations and international organizations do not hold the secretive TPLF regime accountable for the amount of aid it receives every year.

For the most part, donor nations do not have proper monitoring mechanisms that assess how aid funds are spent and who benefits from the expenditure. Obviously, donor nations and tax payers in donor countries do not want to see their funds used by dictators who deny freedom and justice to the very people to whom the aid is intended. Likewise, no democratic citizen of the world wants its hard-earned money to go to a Third World country and be used to prop up a dictatorial regime that muffles free press and kills democratic movements. The message of Ginbot 7 to donor nations has always been to hold the TPLF regime accountable for its political and economic actions, and judge this authoritarian regime by applying the same moral standard used in the Ukraine, the former Yugoslavia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

The TPLF regime and its puppets have used the state propaganda machines internally and state-funded news outlets internationally to refute the human rights reports of well-respected international organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Association of Journalists (IAJ) as well as the US State Department.

The table below shows that the TPLF regime has a virtual monopoly over political power and this monopoly is established, among other things, through the introduction of ethnic politics into the political process. In Ethiopia, ethnic politics is at the helm of the military and other civic organizations, which naturally are supposed to be politically neutral institutions. Ginbot 7 urges donor nations and other international aid agencies to pay particular attention to this overwhelming evidence and reconsider their policies towards a regime that benefits the few.

Ethiopian EPRDF rule

An Ethiopian Federal policeman stands guard as supporters of the ruling Ethiopian Revolutionary People’s Democratic Front (EPRDF) party attend their final rally in the capital Addis Ababa May 20, 2010. Picture taken May 20, 2010. REUTERS/Barry Malone

High-ranking military officials

Principal defence departments

1 Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff Gen Samora Yunus, [ethnic] Tigrayan;

2 Armed Forces Head of Training Lt-Gen Tadese Werede, Tigrayan;

3 Head of Logistics Lt-Gen Gezae Abera, Tigrayan;

4 Head of Intelligence Brig-Gen Gebre Dela, Tigrayan;

5 Armed Forces Head of Campaign Maj-Gen Gebregziabher, Tigrayan;

6 Armed Forces Head of Engineering Lt-Gen Berhane Negash, Tigrayan;

7 Chief of the air force, Brig-Gen Mola Hailemariam, Tigrayan;

Heads of the nation’s four military commands

1 Central Command, [Lt-]Gen Abebaw Tadese, [ethnic] Agew;

2 Northern Command, Lt-Gen Seare Mekonen, Tigrayan;

3 Southeastern Command, Lt-Gen Abraha Welde, Tigrayan;

4 Western Command, Brig-Gen Seyoum Hagos, Tigrayan;

Army divisional commanders

Central Command:

  1. 31st Army Division, Col Tsegaye Marx [second element a nickname], Tigrayan;

  2. 33rd Army Division, Col Kidane [no second name], Tigrayan;

  3. 35th Army Division, Col Misganaw Alemu, Tigrayan;

  4. 24th Army Division, Col Werki-Ainu [nickname], Tigrayan;

  5. 22nd Army Division, Col Dikul [no second name], Tigrayan;

  6. 8th Mechanized Division, Col Jamal Muhammad, Tigrayan;

Northern Command

  1. 14th Army Division, Col Wedi Antiru [nickname], Tigrayan;

  2. 21st Army Division, Col Guesh Gebre, Tigrayan;

  3. 11th Army Division, Col Werki Idu [nickname], Tigrayan;

  4. 25th Army Division, Col Tesfay Sahle, Tigrayan;

  5. 22nd Army Division, Col Teklay Klashin [second element a nickname], Tigrayan;

  6. 4th Mechanized Division, Col Hintsa Giorgis, Tigrayan;

South Eastern Command

  1. 19th Army Division, Col Wedi [son of] Guoe, Tigrayan;

  2. 44th Army Division, Col Zewdu Tefera, Tigrayan;

  3. 13th Army Division, Col Sherifo, Tigrayan;

  4. 12th Army Division, Col Mulugeta Berhe, Tigrayan;

  5. 32nd Army Division, Col Abraha Tselim, Tigrayan;

  6. 6th Mechanized Division, Col Gebremedhin Fekede, Tigrayan;

Western Command

  1. 23rd Army Division, Col Wolde Belalom, Tigrayan;

  2. 43rd Army Division, Col Wedi [son of] Abate, Tigrayan;

  3. 26th Army Division, Col Mebrahtu, Tigrayan;

  4. 7th Mechanized Division, Col Gebremariam, Tigrayan;

Commanders in different defence departments

  1. Agazi Commando Division, Brig-Gen Muhammad Esha, Tigrayan;

  2. Addis Ababa and Surrounding Area Guard, Col Zenebe Amare, Tigrayan;

  3. Palace Guard, Col Gebretensae [no second name], Tigrayan;

  4. Banking Guard, Col Hawaz Weldu, Tigrayan;

  5. Engineering College, Col Halefom Ejigu, Tigrayan;

  6. Military Health Science, Brig-Gen Tesfay Gidey, Tigrayan;

  7. Mulugeta Buli Technical College, Col Meley Amare, Tigrayan;

  8. Resource Management College, Col Letay [female, no second name], Tigrayan;

  9. Siftana Command College, Brig-Gen Moges Haile, Tigrayan;

  10. Blaten Military Training Centre, Col Salih Berihu, Tigrayan;

  11. Hurso Military Training Centre, Col Negash Hiluf, Tigrayan;

  12. Awash Arba Military Training Centre, Col Muze [no second name], Tigrayan;

  13. Birr Sheleko Military Training Centre, Col Negasi Shekhortet [second element a nickname], Tigrayan;

  14. Defence Administration Department, Brig-Gen Mehari Zewde, Tigrayan;

  15. Defence Aviation, Brig-Gen Kinfe Dagnew, Tigrayan;

  16. Defence Research and Study, Brig-Gen Halefom Chento [second element a nickname], Tigrayan;

  17. Defence Justice Department, Col Askale [no second name], Tigrayan;

  18. Secretary of the chief-of-staff, Col Tsehaye Manjus [second element a nickname], Tigrayan;

  19. Indoctrination Centre, Brig-Gen Akale Asaye, Amhara;

  20. Communications Department, Col Sebhat [no second name], Tigrayan;

  21. Foreign Relations Department, Col Hasene [no second name], Tigrayan;

  22. Special Forces Coordination Department, Brig-Gen Fiseha Manjus [second element a nickname], Tigrayan;

  23. Operations Department, Col Wedi Tewk [nickname], Tigrayan;

  24. Planning, Readiness and Programming Department, Col Teklay Ashebr, Tigrayan;

  25. Defence Industries Coordination Department, Col Wedi [son of] Negash, Tigrayan;

  26. Defence Finance Department, Col Zewdu [no second name], Tigrayan;

  27. Defence Purchasing Department, Col Gdey [no second name], Tigrayan;

  28. Defence Budget Department, Mr Berhane [no second name], Tigrayan;

One of the most common and great truths of our time is that freedom requires international vigilance. The free people of the world cannot enjoy the full benefit of being free when the freedom of 80 million Ethiopians is egregiously violated by a regime that enjoys the full support of the free world.

In Ethiopia, the TPLF regime has tossed out freedom and democracy at the crosswords. The problem in Ethiopia is not just the absence of democracy. The Ethiopian people suffer from persistent, systematic and widespread human rights violation. The TPLF regime continues to suppress dissenting opinions and maintains political control over the legal system. Arbitrary detentions, torture, ill-treatment of prisoners and severe restrictions on freedom of expression are the most common types of abuses that the Ethiopian people face daily.

It is a sign of immense problem when a tiny minority of the population monopolizes power in a country of 80 million people. It is, indeed, a clear indication of national crisis when a minority ethnic group that accounts for only six per cent of the population occupies 100 per cent of the top military posts in the army and the air force.

Ginbot 7 takes this opportunity to remind the world that the major explanation of ethnic manipulation of politics in Ethiopia is to be sought not in the character of the Ethiopian public that is the subject of manipulation, but in the character of those (TPLF) who seek to dominate the public through such manipulation, and the structures of domination they have devised.

Ginbot 7 strongly believes that political instability in the Horn of Africa is a threat to world peace, and the Horn of Africa will never be stable as long as the largest country in the region [Ethiopia] is ruled by a ruthless dictator whose political and economic policies alienate 94 per cent of the population from the national decision-making process. The TPLF regime has pushed the Ethiopian people far over the limit and has left them with only one option; and that option is the devil’s alternative. Ginbot 7 believes that putting hope in the heart of the Ethiopian people and helping them defeat the enemies of democracy is a very important step that takes the world one step closer to peace, and most importantly, it is one big step in the process of building the largest democracy in Africa.

[Issued by] Ginbot 7 Movement for Justice, Freedom and Democracy.

Note: Ginbot 7 means “May 15” – the date of the Ethiopian General Election in 2005.


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