by Tsinat Haile
Coming under pressure from different corners and mainly from the international community, TPLF had no choice left but to cave in to their demands including to the ones that are coming from its surrogate groups and various sections of the society. There are rumors that a final deal has been reached to an arrangement in which HD would become the PM and there would be three Deputy Prime Ministers (DPM’s).
Accordingly, Girma Birru of OPDO is mentioned as the frontrunner for the DPM position in charge of economic affairs and all the ministries in this sector report to him. They include ministries of industry, trade, finance and economic development, agriculture, mines, transport, information and communication technology, science and technology, and energy and water development. Demeke Mekonnen of ANDM is likely to take the DPM position with social sector portfolio with the ministries such as education, health, social and labor, women, youth and children, culture and tourism, civil service and justice reporting to him.
The third DPM is expected to be from the TPLF and would be in charge of foreign and security affairs with the direct report of foreign, defense, federal affairs ministries and a multitude of federal security agencies including the notorious federal police. TPLF has not reached agreement within itself as to who among them would take this DPM position and names that come up frequently are Seyoum Mesfin, Abbay Tsehaye and Berhane G/Kirstos. It is expected that it would be decided once the TPLF holds its official CC meeting in which it would elect its chairman to succeed Meles. There are rumors that the TPLF CC has been tied up in a series of tense secret meetings to elect the party’s leaders that include the chairman, deputy and EC members. They decided to keep the meetings secret until they hammer out differences and once that is done they would hold an official meeting to endorse their compromise nominees.
The TPLF has also resolved to install the would-be TPLF chairman as the deputy chairman of the EPRDF and this person may not necessarily take up any official government position. Instead he would be the main person running the real parallel government (effectively the real PM and chairman of EPRDF playing Putin) calling shots from behind HD and the DPM’s. Seyoum Mesfin and Abbay Tsehaye are fiercely vying for this all important position. Some argue that it is a foregone conclusion that one of them would be elected chair and the other deputy. Whoever comes in second in the TPLF constellation of power would be one of the three DPM’s.
Berhane G/Kirstos is also one of the frontrunners mentioned for the chair opening but it is believed that his chances of beating these two old guards are very slim and he might just settle for the senior EC membership and foreign ministry portfolio in the government positioning himself well for any future eventualities. In addition to his aloof demeanor and Eritrean background, what makes Berhane’s claim to the helm of the TPLF unlikely is Seyoum and Abbay have more ties to the military from their rebel days than Berhane who had been mostly based abroad during the armed struggle.
TPLF is said also to be seriously contemplating to increase the number of deputy chairperson of EPRDF from one to three installing one from each member party from which no chairman comes. Whatever the case, it is a foregone conclusion that those who come from the surrogate groups would not have any real power, none whatsoever, no matter where they would be installed. They are just place holders helping in beautifying the ugly TPLF. The EPRDF CC meeting is slated for September 16, 2012.