Demeke Mekonnen could be the man to succeed Abiy Ahmed according to American insiders.

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Although ambassador Jeff Feltman mentioned meeting Abiy Ahmed when he returned to Washington from Addis this week, most of his interactions with the Ethiopian government officials were exclusively with the deputy premier and foreign minister Demeke Mekonnen Hassan. American sources write that the coming transition will be led by the deputy premier.


According to the Ethiopian constitution and the succession process of  the government, Mr. Demeke will succeed Abiy Ahmed if the later leaves office due to the current war in Ethiopia. Over three years ago, when Hailemariam Desalegn decided to resign from the office, Demeke was the legitimate prime minister in waiting, but the EPRDF decided to hold a vote among the four ethnic groups in the party , mainly the Amhara, Oromo, Tigray and Southern Nationalities. Each one of them had 45 members, and simple majority was needed to become the leader. While Abiy was groomed and political obstacles were removed for him to succeed, his elections weren't a done deal until votes were counted.


Debresion Gabremickel the current TPLF leader was a candidate, so was Demeke and Abiy Ahmed. THe Amhara and the Oromo had decided beforehand to make a coalition to defeat the TPLF candidate. The TPLF , with help of some southern nationalities' members were hoping a three way raise. Suddenly, just before the vote deputy premier Demeke decided not to run and had thrown his support to Abiy. At the time , he was the leader of the Amhara democratic party and the deputy of EPRDF.


Since then, he has been one of the most trusted allies of premier Abiy Ahmed. Mr. Mekonnen is a practicing Muslim Amhara from Gojjam.


WE all know after the current war, the old Ethiopia of one strong man rule, where the winners write their own constitution and oppress everyone else is over. It could become a confederate or common wealth of autonomous states. Yet, in order to reach the ideal pluralistic and democratic Ethiopia, this nation must travel more rough train and pass huge obstacles. Many years ago, some of us said that the current Ethiopia of TPLF had three choices:  plural democracy with multi ethnic communities, a Yugoslavia style disintegration or to keep the status quo which will lead its eventual  implosion. THe TPLF has delayed the inevitable in 1991 through ethnic federalism coupled with authoritarian rule and some  development especially the Oromia region.


While the Oromo is the ultimate candidate to rule or win elections, nothing is written in a stone. And in order to rule, they must flow the constitutional frame work to win the top post. If Abiy can't get his army to push back the TPLF within weeks, the next move of the ruling party and the Americans will be to crown Mr. Demeke Mekonnen. The America supported Demeke could negoitiate with the TPLf and restore a cease fire.


The latest from Abiy to go to the front and be a martyr for Ethiopia could eventually eliminate him. He is losing the support of the Oromo slowly but gradually, and that will lead his ultimate failure. While Abiy is elected and has the legitimacy to rule,  this is not the time to go to the front. Ambitious generals and others with  an ax to grind might shoot him. Few months ago, the president of Chad went to the font and the army told us he was killed by rebels when he got close to the front. After the election, we were expecting him to release the political prisoners , mend fences with the Oromo and form a unity government. Yet, just like a tone deaf person, he rode his own Amhara caravan without any worry.


According to the American envoy, the TPLF wants the blockade to be lifted and Abiy want the rebels to vacate Amhara and Affar region. Mr. Feltman said that it is politically impossible for Abiy to negotiate openly with TPLF openly they occupy the land of his constituent, but they are willing to help through envoys. He also said that Abiy believes he will be able to push back the rebels back  to Tigray by force, but his overconfidence is opposite of what the map is saying. The Americans are saying they are offering Abiy to force the TPLF back to Tigray without a war, yet the war might not wait the Diplomatic moves that could prevent disaster.


When I notice from the Americans or the democratic party is the pressure of the Ethiopian/Eritrean diaspora is producing some change on the American attitude. Black congress people and some senators are speaking up in the favor of the Abiy government. The  Ethiopian diaspora are the largest immigrant community in DC area and they are switching parties. THere is nothing scary for politican by someone vowing to vote them out. WE have already seen that in Virginia where a years ago Joe Biden won 10 and they lost in three points. That is minus 13 points. 


My suspicion is that in order to appease the Amhara and continue the Ethiopian project, the Americans could favour Demeke, an Amhara with the support of the TPLF, Somalis and some segment of the Oromo. Among the Oromo fighters who are ridding the TPLF caravan, there is no a single known politician or someone to lead the country if push comes to shove. The known Oromo leaders are either in jail like Jawar Mohamed, Bakale Garba or in house arrest like the leader of the real Oromo Liberation Front Daud Ibsa who was the armed Oromo from Eritrea.


These Oromo leaders must win an election and come through the political process to win an election before jumping to the top. Thus, in this scenario, Demeke is the man. Despite being Amhara, he has certain advantages. He has been in government for a long time including the deputy premier in two different leaders, Abiy and Desaleyn. He will have automatic support from Mustafe Cagjar who is very close to the Amhara, and last but not the least, he will be the first Muslim to leader  Ethiopia.


I will tell you one more thing. Some twenty-one years or ago, many Somalis and a group of Amhara Muslims founded a Taxi Cab company with over hundreds of vehicles. twenty or more of the Amhara MUslims had joined with us. One thing I remember till now is each one of them prayed five times a day. To my surprise, one percent of the Oromo who were Muslims prayed. Being raised in the middle of the Orthodox dominated northern Ethiopia, they happen to be good and serious Muslims. In fact, the TPLF occupied city of Dessie, Wello used to be Muslim majority. Furthermore, most of the Ethiopia drought during emperor Haile Selassie took place in Wello.


Finally, all that speculation will disappear if " Mujaahid" Abiy succeeds his war and pushes back thev rebels. What ever the outcome, some us also believe the same debate that taking place in Ethiopia will happen in the Somali region. No one will accept a top down corrupt enity in Jigjiga looting the resources of the people in the name of government.

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I like your optimism, but there are few problems with any possible selection of Demeke Mekonnen, one being he was and is an effective participant in the war against the TPLF and by extension Tigrians and secondly, he needs a base. Though he is Amhara, no Amhara would support him if Demeke gave concessions to TPLF while the TPLF is conquering and displacing Amharas. The Tigrians won't welcome his selection as long as Amharas are 'occupying' Humera and Welkait. Thirdly, you are overestimating the influence Americans have over different groups. While the Americans can push the elites, they have little influence over the armed factions. There is a worry emergence of a warlord class that is not answerable to anyone.

And finally, I don't think we appreciate fissures within society and the level of hatred that might not be overcome in the immediate future. It will take a deliberate and delicate process to heal the people so they could see each other as neighbors and fellow citizens again. 

There are possible ways that spare Ethiopia the hardships of Somalis. The competing groups can agree on a compromise candidate whose sole job is to transition the country to whatever agreed system of governance. Such a person will be hard to come by. Or different groups can establish a council that is representative of the country and keeps everyone in check till they figure out a way forward.


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21 hours ago, Che -Guevara said:

Such a person will be hard to come by.

Che, this is not Somalia where a man was  picked  by Manifesto from the streets of Mogadishu because he was Unaka community in 1991. Any transition must flow the current rules of the game. Which means either the head of the army or the deputy premier. The TPLF hatred of Amhara is purely about power and politics. In fact, the biggest strategy of the TPLF is to depose Abiy Ahmed, everything else takes a back seat.

I agree with you that the Americans are dealing with the elite,  and just like the TPLF, they are probably undermining the army leadership within, but the Ethiopians both back home and the diaspora had shown their show of force to the Americans and others, that there is a zero possibility of any Tigray or associates of TPLF ever coming to power to rule. They might get their landlocked Tigray to rule, and have influence for the new Ethiopia. That is about it. One major defeat will cripple the TPLF.

We all agree that Abiy will not flee. The TPLF had to win the war not the battle for Abiy to give up. 


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