On the way out
Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is soon to add the ex to his title. Days away from his final departure at the helm of the government, he is quiet and others are taking turns showing up on TV addressing the public on issues ranging from the State of Emergency decree to the secretive meetings of the party’s executive committee, whatever the official reason for conveying it everybody knows it is all about agreeing up on the replacement of the outgoing figure.
But in the meantime Tigray People’s Liberation Front seems to be outraged by Hailemariam for his soft handedness on the protests that have engulfed the country for the last three years. And the fact that he took the measure to tacitly admitting the existence of political prisoners that his predecessor and the party top echelon has been denying for so long is another source of discontent.
Falling in love with legacy
An article released by TPLF media outlets titled “Assessing the legacy of PM Hailemariam Desalegn’’ shows how the current popular protests and some positives measures like releasing political prisoners have been viewed by the hard core party operatives.
The article depicts the PM as “a man who can not rise up to challenges: indecisive, weak and faint leader”. It is important to note that Hailemariam is not totally out of the picture yet. The fact that he is indecisive and weak is deliberate, he doesn’t know any other way. Six years ago when he took power he had repeatedly said that his only vision was to continue the legacy of his predecessor Meles Zenawi whose death had been hidden from his subjects until August 2012. He was probably appeasing the king makers by reaffirming his commitment to the vision of Meles, though most of us don’t even have a clue what the vision was. The academics turned politician was so powerless he had to share the Palace with the widow of his predecessor for some time as she refused to relocate.
While he is a well educated technocrat and a minister and a deputy PM, he never expected the post of PM to one day befall up on him. He was not ready and the TPLF bigwigs were not prepared either to award that post outside of their tight knitted circle. But they had to give way to pressures from the Americans, their major financial backers and the rules written by them also worked against them. So one bright morning Hailemariam finds himself at the helm of a country with over 100 million people.
Now it seems that TPLF is under enormous pressures. For 27 years the country has been ruled by a minority group whose only legitimacy is the toppling of the previous regime. The PM who wished to serve as a face of that administration is commander in chief of the army, and as such he takes responsibility for the atrocities committed by his army in various parts of the Oromia, Amhara and Somali regions.
Still the forces that put him in that situation have a regret, and moreover a thing or two to say about him. “The decision to release prisoners is a historical mistake that compromised his government’s pride.” The condemnation continues: “His weak leadership surrendered to the powers disguised as human rights activists that toiled day and night to bring his government down.”
“Not only did he manage to have his administration lack the look of a government,” the article goes on to say, “but also was seen by many as a faint hearted; incapable of bringing law and order, as a result not respected by the citizens and not feared by his enemies.”
15 minutes of fame
Well, we are not sure if that is the case. But the marathon press conferences by Siraj Fegessa, Minister of Defense and head of the so called Command Post, in charge of implementing the State of Emergency decrees is not what the public actually pays attention to. Shiferaw Shigute who is serving as spokesperson of the ruling party even less so. Everybody knows they are brought forward to address image problems. But the truth is a brief memo by a TPLF operative has tons of information than hours of rants by the southern officials who are enjoying their 15 minutes of fame.