ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopia held a memorial on Tuesday for the army chief of staff slain with four other senior officials in weekend attacks that posed the biggest threat yet to the prime minister’s reforms.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was sat in the front row at the memorial and wiped tears from his eyes with a white handkerchief.
Within a day, he has lost his chief of staff in Addis Abeba and key allies in Amhara where regional president Ambachew Mekonnen and an adviser were killed in the region’s main city, Bahir Dar.
The attacks were allegedly led by Amhara’s head of state security General Asamnew Tsige(Ph.D.), who had been openly recruiting fighters for ethnic militias in a state that has become a flashpoint for violence.
Asamnew, the alleged coup plotter, was shot on Monday near Bahir Dar, according to Police.
The situation that was abruptly changed from a regular meeting at the headquarters of the Amhara regional state’s capital into the battleground, the regional chief Ambachew, his adviser Ezezu Wasse were assassinated during the shootout on Saturday 22 June 2019.
The regional state attorney general Migbaru Kebede who died two days after he injured at the spot was also in the meeting.
The federal officials described the attack as an “orchestrated coup attempt” against the leadership of the Amhara Regional Government.
They said the attempt foiled and immediately pointed their figure towards Brigadier Gen. Asaminew Tsige, who has been serving as the regional government’s Peace and Security Bureau head, and some collaborators.
“Many of the individuals involved in the attacks have been arrested and there is an ongoing operation to arrest the remaining,” said the Prime minister office.
Brig. Gen. Asaminew was given amnesty and released from imprisonment last year. While the situation in the region become “under full control”, another attack on top federal government official took place in Addis Abeba three hours later.
This time it was in the house of General Seare Mekonen, who was guiding the operation together with the command post in Bahir Dar.
Could it be averted?
One relative told The Daily Monitor that one of the six bodyguards of the army chief started to fire towards Seare, who was sitting together with his old friend and retired, Maj. Gen. Gezai Abera, on the front porch his home located near Deslaegn Hotel.
“The guard first shot and killed Gezaei before turning towards Seare,” he said. “He then fired multiple bullets towards Seare and managed to heavily injure him”.
Out of the 16 bullets he shot, ten of them managed to hit Seare’s body, he said.
It was just only a few months since the assassin started to guard the late General while the remaining five were with him for many years, he said.
Seare went against some family members advise changing the new guard due to the “unusual behavior” he was showing during his brief stay with the family.
“This fatal attack was committed by General Seare’s bodyguard who has also been arrested,” said the PM office confirmed in a statement on Sunday. His body will be laid to rest in Mekelle City today, Wednesday.
By Mhret G/Kirstos