Senior government officials from Eritrea…

Senior government officials from Eritrea have spent a couple of days last week in Addis Abeba, for the first time since that bloody but senseless war with Ethiopia two decades ago. The Emirs of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have played the most crucial role in helping the two parties pass their stalemate since the peace accord was signed in the Algerian capital of Algiers, 18 years ago.

Those at the gossip corridors see this as part of grand geopolitical manoeuvring by countries in the Middle East, cornering the Iran-Qatar-Turkey alliance that is formed against Saudi, UAE and Egypt axis. Countries in the Horn of Africa – Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia – cajoled to side with either of the groups, but with their respective affinities, claims gossip.

In this bigger picture, Issayas Afeworqi of Eritrea surprised the world with his U-turn policy of Ethiopia`s overture to peace declared by the recent Executive Committee meeting of the ruling EPRDF. Although in essence there has been little change on Ethiopia`s position of 13 year articulated in the five-point resolution, the call for peace was received with an affirmative nod by the man up in Asmara; but not without a caveat.

Issayas used a curious phrase of “Game Over” with the TPLF to rationalise his decision of sending a delegation to Addis Abeba to further the dialogue between the two countries, leading for normalisation. So were Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed, once a teacher in a school in Adwa where Sebhat Nega was a principal, arrived at the Bole International Airport, alongside Yemane Gebreab, a man with a politico-security background advising his President.

The reception by the administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) ought to have been exhilarating, claims gossip. Contrary to protocol and against the advice of his aides, Abiy made a point of receiving the Eritreans at the airport and shared his contagious “love” sermon with them. It was a moment fittingly described by the Greek word for “agape” where two nemeses patted each other on how much brotherly love they have for each other, claims gossip.

The question many at gossip corridors ask was what brought the duo to Addis. Housed at the luxurious Sheraton Addis, they have not had much in the way of substantive talk, except for brief occasions where issues such as Ethiopia`s possible withdrawal from the disputed town of Badme and the prospect of its government reopening its mission in Asmara were raised, gossip disclosed.

The Eritreans might have come to Addis to gauge how much of the “Game Over” rhetoric by their President has currency on the ground, claims gossip. They could have the intent to see to what extent the TPLF, the mortal enemy of Eritrea`s PFDJ, is sidelined from core decision-making process in Ethiopia`s politics before they make their next move, says gossip.

Whether they are satisfied with their reading on the ground can be determined in the move they will take next, possibly by their decision in inviting Prime Minister Abiy to Asmara or a meeting of the two Heads of State at the AU Summit soon, gossip foresees.

The TPLFites, the senior partners and long the most powerful force within the ruling EPRDF, are helplessly divided as they had been before the rise to power of Abiy, to respond effectively to a man who wishes them bad, claims gossip. Although very fluid, alliances are formed and reformed at a fast pace, according to gossip. A recent development may show possibly three groups emerging, gossip observed.

There could be a status quo supporting group comprising Asmelash Woldesellasie, a.k.a Abay Nefso; and Getachew Asefa, supported by Seyoum Mesfin, claims gossip. The camp that is accommodative of the ongoing change could comprise Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), chairman of the Front, and Alem Gebrewahid, its secretary, supported by Arkebe Oqubay (PhD), gossip claims. The undecided could fall in the camp of Sebhat Nega, deemed by many as a father of the TPLF, gossip says.

Published on Jun 30,2018 [ Vol 19 ,No 948]



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