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Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 18:27 GMT
Threat to Ethiopian PM 'averted'
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
Meles Zenawi is trying to shore up his position
Ethiopian Government sources are rejecting reports that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's position is under threat from an internal power struggle from within his party.

But officials close to the prime minister have admitted that over the past few weeks there has been widespread internal dissent.

However, they have told News Online that the prime minister has now managed to avert any threat to his position.

Over the past few weeks, several senior members of the Central Committee of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the main party in the ruling EPRDF coalition government, have been expressing dissent over the prime minister's policies.

Ideology

The political ideology of the TPLF appears to be their main problem.

Twelve key members from within the TPLF have opposed some of MR Meles's more progressive reforms.

Ethiopian rebels in 1991
Meles Zenawi is criticised for turning his back on the ideals of the 1991 revolution
They accuse him of selling out to capitalism, and "bowing to western powers" such as the World Bank and the United States, rather than sticking with the Marxist ideologies that brought the TPLF and EPRDF to power when they overthrew Dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991.

Political analysts in Addis Ababa, say the issue has caused a massive row between the reformists and the conservatives in the TPLF.

It is believed that in an attempt to weaken the prime minister's position, the dissenting members have used Mr Meles's handling of the conflict with Eritrea, to gather support amongst other members of the party.

Eritrea

Sources say the members, most of whom have been labelled "hard-liners" feel that the prime minister has been "too soft" on Eritrea.

Ethiopian soldier
Meles Zenawi is being criticised over his handling of the war with Eritrea
They complain that Ethiopia should have toppled the Eritrean Government and taken Asmara, when they launched their offensive in May last year and which resulted in the signing of a peace agreement between the two countries.

Things came to a climax last week, when 12 of the 30 member committee left the meeting.

It is still unsure whether they voluntarily walked out of the meeting or they were suspended by the prime minister, who chairs the Central Committee.

The 12 include the second in command within the TPLF, Tewolde Wolde Mariam and the President of the Tigray Region, Gebru Asrat.

Speculation on the whereabouts of the 12 members is rife.

Sources say that they have been sacked from their senior government positions and their offices have been closed.

The government has made no official comment on the issue. But officials, who wish to remain anonymous, have said that the dissenting members are free to return to the committee and resume their government posts.

This internal revolt seems to have been quashed for the present moment and TPLF members have asked the central committee to continue their meetings and prepare for congress with only 18 members.

But analysts believe that issue of reforms in political ideologies has not gone away and that although Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, may have emerged relatively unscathed this time, he is expected to face dissension again when he takes his political reforms to the TPLF and EPRDF congress later this year.

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See also:

23 May 00 | Africa
Free rein for Eritrean opposition
30 Jun 00 | Africa
Eritrea, Ethiopia to resume talks
18 Jun 00 | Africa
Horn enemies sign peace deal
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Ethiopia
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