Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister replaced the heads of the military and intelligence services as he pressed ahead with his political reforms in the country.
He named General Seare Mekonen as the new Chief of Staff of the armed forces replacing General Samora Yunis. Both Samora and Seare are senior members of the TPLF from Tigray ethnic group that largely held the top military, security and intelligence ranks since they come to power in 1991.
Samora had held the role of Chief of Staff since 2001.
The Prime Minister also named air force head Major General Adem Mohamed (ANDM, Amhara) to head the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), replacing another TPLF senior member Getachew Assefa, effective immediately.
The reasons for the changes were not yet disclosed. However, the surprise move to get rid of these two long-serving Tigrayan untouchables shows how the Premier is gradually consolidating power.
Meanwhile, the Premier also reinstated stars and full ranks to Major General Alemeshet Degfe and Brigadier General Asaminew Tsige.
The former TPLF dominated regime had stripped the ranks of these two Generals from the Amhara ethnic group after they had held a position that the regime had to respect the vote of the people following the controversial 2005 election when TPLF lost in a landslide to the opposition.
They had also demanded at the time the army should not involve in politics.
“The two Generals were stripped of their stars and ranks in the past but will now retire with their full pension,” Fitsum Arega, Chief of Staff at the Prime Minister Office said in a tweet.
“This certainly indicates a weakening of the TPLF,” said one university lecturer in the capital Addis Ababa who declined to give his name.
The TPLF is dominated by ethnic Tigrayans, while PM Abiy is an ethnic Oromos.