Ethiopia defense minister breaks ranks with ally PM Abiy

Abiy, himself an Oromo, came to power in April 2018 after more than two years of anti-government protests led by Ethiopia's two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara. (AFP)
Updated 01 December 2019

Ethiopia defense minister breaks ranks with ally PM Abiy

  • Ethiopia's defence minister has criticised plans to transform the ruling coalition into a single party,
  • Analysts say the public split between the country's most powerful ethnic Oromo politicians could increase political uncertainty ahead of the May polls

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia's defence minister, a key ally of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has criticised plans to transform the ruling coalition into a single party, highlighting growing divisions ahead of planned 2020 elections.
Analysts say the public split between the country's most powerful ethnic Oromo politicians could increase political uncertainty ahead of the May polls, and hinder Abiy's reformist agenda.
In an interview with Voice of America's Affan Oromo language service on Friday night, Defence Minister Lemma Megersa criticised the move to merge the coalition of ethno-regional parties which has ruled the country for three decades.
"I have had a different perspective from the beginning of the talks about the merger of EPRDF," said Lemma, adding that "even if that is to happen it shouldn't be done in a hurried way."
Nobel Peace Laureate Abiy's plans to transform the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) into one party have already been rejected by the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) -- the once dominant party of late strongman Meles Zenawi.
The three other parties last week voted to unite and form the Prosperity Party (PP), which Abiy hopes will heal ethnic divisions that have marred his rule, while critics say it will only deepen them.
Lemma also rejected Abiy's philosophy "Medemer" (Amharic for synergy) which is aimed at uniting the country.
Lemma is a former president of Ethiopia's largest and most populous regional state, Oromia and is currently vice chairman of the regional ruling party (ODP), with a large following in the region.
Abiy, himself an Oromo, came to power in April 2018 after more than two years of anti-government protests led by Ethiopia's two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara.
Ethiopian analyst Abel Abate said the public break between the two men will likely add to political uncertainty in the country as it prepares to hold general elections next year.
"While the process to form PP out of the ashes of EPRDF has gone a considerable distance, it's far from complete yet. This public disagreement could fatally injure plans to form PP", he said.
Meanwhile, Horn of Africa analyst Rashid Abdi wrote on Twitter that Abiy was "in deep trouble" after being ditched by his "single most important pillar of Oromo support".


Afghan forces arrest regional Daesh leader

Updated 04 April 2020

Afghan forces arrest regional Daesh leader

  • Aslam Farooqi, also known as Abdullah Orakzai, had been arrested along with the other men in a “complex operation”
  • Farooqi was the mastermind behind a Daesh-claimed attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul last month that killed at least 25 people

KABUL: Afghan forces have arrested the leader of the country’s Daesh group affiliate along with 19 other extremists, authorities said Saturday.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a statement that Aslam Farooqi, also known as Abdullah Orakzai, had been arrested along with the other men in a “complex operation.”
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an NDS official told AFP that Farooqi was the mastermind behind a Daesh-claimed attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul last month that killed at least 25 people.
Known as Islamic State in the Khorasan (IS-K), the Afghan Daesh branch has been on its back foot in recent months following continued operations by US forces and separately by the Taliban.
In November, Afghan officials said IS-K had been completely defeated in Nangarhar, one of the key eastern provinces where they first sought to establish a stronghold in 2015.
In the years since, they have claimed responsibility for a string of horrific bombings across Afghanistan.
In its statement, the NDS said Farooqi had admitted to having links with “regional intelligence agencies” — a clear reference to Pakistan, which Afghanistan routinely blames for supporting extremists and helping the Taliban.
Islamabad denies it does so.
US Forces-Afghanistan did not immediately respond to a query about Farooqi’s arrest.