A 2008 cable discusses potential rifts within EPRDF and the different parties that make it up. Highlights include the following:
– Arkebe got the most votes for TPLF chairmanship during the party’s 2008 congress. He declined the position “recognizing the center of gravity surrounding Meles.”
-Within ANDM, Tefera Walwa and his dissenting faction were pushed out by a faction led by Bereket and Addisu. The dissenters (Tefera and co.) were frustrated by TPLF dominance in the government and the Sudan-Ethiopia tensions which “have cost the Amhara region a large chunk of territory” among other issues.
The cable also highlights problems in the OPDO, SEPDM, the BGPDUF (Benshangul-Gumuz), and the SPDP (Somali People’s Democratic Party).
A conversation with an SPDP regional council member highlights that EPRDF actions and drive for total control are leading to a feeling to increased alienation in the region and within the party.
¶7. (S/NF) An SPDP regional councilmember based in Dire Dawa recently described for us SPDP intraparty tensions related to the SPDP leadership’s adherence to EPRDF policies and practices. The councilmember said that “in general the (EPRDF established) Ethiopian Constitution is acceptable, but the reality on the ground is different. There is no intraparty democracy. The top leaders dictate, based on loyalty. If you criticize, you are branded as the opposition. Nor is there any intraparty dissent. SPDP leaders trample their own regulations and by-laws. If you point it out, they can sack you, prevent you from work, make you subservient.” The SPDP regional councilmember said the SPDP leadership’s autocratic tendencies simply reflect the EPRDF’s authoritarian practices. “We are hoping for free and fair elections and a level playing field,” he said, “but we are not there now. It would be better if Ethiopia followed global practices. The National Electoral Board is not free and fair. The recent census was sad and unreliable. I don’t even know how many people elected me.” The SPDP regional councilmember added that “The police should be independent, but they are not. They serve the EPRDF, not the public. If the ruling party tells them to arrest someone, they do; if ruling party says release them, they release them. The judiciary is also not free and fair and just does the bidding of the ruling party. People are prosecuted for their way of thinking, not their actions. The police trump up charges, such as ‘colluding with anti-peace elements’ and they can even revoke the immunity of regional councilmembers. Roughly 17 members of the Somali Regional Council are in jail simply for expressing their views. I asked (SPDP leadership): ‘how is it possible the party can be judge, jury and executioner?’ and they replied ‘because we said so.’ So, many of our regional council member self-censor.”
¶8. (S/NF) The SPDP regional councilmember cautioned that many in the SPDP are beginning to resent the EPRDF and their own leadership. “The Somali region was historically neglected,” he said, “but in the past 17 years there have been few tangible changes and lately conditions are regressing. The government has taken no action to solve the problem of water shortages. We are all nationalist Ethiopians but within the SPDP rank and file the mind-set is changing. Instead of cooperating and helping Somali Region development, the EPRDF (and SPDP leadership) dictates, arrests and intimidates.”
The full cable can be read here.