Ethiopia’s Defense Minister and Chief of Armed Forces visit Washington


by Jawar on November 27, 2012.

The two top officials of the Ethiopian military, Siraj Fagessa the minister of defense  and  General Samora Younus, chief of armed forces,  are   in Washington DC. There is no official announcement of the trip but promoting investment is said to be  the main objective of  the trip. While sending defense officials to ‘promote investment’ is unusual, it makes sense given the dire need to restore investor confidence that  the plummeted  as consequence of the uncertainty following Meles’ death. Presumably, sending the defense officials is meant to assure investors, particularly foreign ones, that there would  no risk of instability  because the armed forces are in full control of the situation.

However, such assurance is hard to sell in the presence of the clearly visible confusion and  disorder  of the government. For starter, the new prime minister has not been able to form his won cabinet, and not even fill the  two ministerial posts,  foreign affairs and civil service,  that remain vacant.  Factional rivalry is believed to be responsible for preventing agreement on composition of the new cabinet.

Second, some party bosses, particularly Bereket Simon, are   are exercising  way more decision making power than their official post. Although he is just a government spokesman,  since Meles’ death, Bereket traveled to Beijing to negotiating  loan agreement with the Chinese, presided over the peace agreement between the two Sudans and most recently was in Nairobi visibly dominating   the  trade and security negotiations  with Kenya.  His growing and visible dominance  is no doubt causing resentment among the rest of the Tigrean  bosses  who already envy   his influence under Meles because of his Eritrean origin.  Making matters worse, few weeks back, Bereket went on an Eritrean paltalk room openly declaring  that the disputed boarder town of Badme belongs to Eritrea, and more importantly  re-affirming his government commitment to respecting , and even safeguarding Eritrea sovereignty. In response,  the Tigrean forums are littered with commentaries that,  for first time in TPLF history, question the viability of the Eritrean independence, causing some to fear that  hardliner Tigrean nationalists might agitate war against Eritrea with the aim of defeating Bereket’s faction.

Therefore, in the face of such looming factional war, its unlikely that the visit by these defense officials will solve the concern of foreign investors.



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