ION update: 07/22/06
Indian Ocean Newsletter N° 1190 22/07/2006
The possibility of a military intervention to support its allies in Somalia is dividing the EPRDF.
The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF, governing coalition) is split over the idea of a military intervention in Somalia to support its allies of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).Sebhat Nega
The militia of the Islamist Courts Union (ICU) are preparing for military actions in the direction of Baidoa, the stronghold of the Somalian TFG and warlords who oppose the Islamists. The question of Ethiopian aid for the TFG forces is on the cards, but is dividing the Ethiopian authorities. According to information obtained by The Indian Ocean Newletter, the Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, supported by Bereket Simeon, is considering a direct and decisive intervention against the Islamists. But the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Seyoum Mesfin, as well as Sebhat Nega and Abay Tsegaye advise him to take a more cautious approach.Seyoum Mesfin
There are similar divergences within the army, with the Army Chief of Staff Samora Yunis along with some Tigrayan generals in favour of a strong intervention in Somalia. On the other hand, other generals, whether Tigrayan, Oromo or Amhara, are opposed to such intervention. They are wary that it may be exploited by Eritrea as in this case the EPRDF forces would be divided on two fronts a long way from each other.
According to sources in the Ethiopian opposition, several hundreds of combatants of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF, opposition), armed and supported by Eritrea, have already infiltrated these last few weeks via Djibouti into the Ethiopian region of Ogaden, in the hope that an Islamist victory in Mogadishu would favour the development of their own breakaway struggle in Ethiopia.Bereket Simeon
Another topic of discussion in the EPRDF leadership concerns the idea of changing the name and the manifesto of this coalition. Certain nostalgic people, such as Adissu Legesse, are strongly opposed to such a change. Meanwhile, the EPRDF is setting up a committee to celebrate the millennium (according to the Ethiopian calendar, the first day of the New Year 1999 will be on 11 September). Mulugeta Asrat Kassa, son of the late Asrat Kassa, was called to Addis Ababa from his home in London to be one of the executives of this committee.Shifferaw Jarso
The EPRDF wants to still be in power when it celebrates the first day of the year 2000 (according to the Ethiopian calendar) and hopes that by that time the unrest in the opposition will have dissipated. Particularly as the big shots have not entirely cut off links with the radical opponents. Hence, the Norwegian authorities have passed a message to open negotiations on to the government in Addis Ababa, from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD).
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian President Girma Wolde-Girogis, currently undergoing medical treatment in Saudi Arabia and whose mandate ends in October, could be replaced by the present Minister for Water Shifferaw Jarso.(Courtesy of Weblog Ethiopia)