In a leaked cable that intercepted communication between US Embassies across the world, released by an organization called WikiLeaks, it was once indicated that Donald Yamamoto, former US Ambassador to Ethiopia, described Getachew Assefa, the then head of the National Intelligence & Security Agency, as an “elusive” personality noting his rare appearances in the public and diplomatic platforms.
Getachew, who headed the most secretive institution in the country for more than 15 years, following the controversial assassination of his predecessor, Kinfe Gebremedhin in 2001, was relived from his post this week.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) replaced Getachew with Adem Mohammed (Gen.), who was the chief of Air Force.
Days, before his appointment as a chief of intelligence, Adem was seen with US military officials, accompanied by Ambassador Michael Raynor.
Adem received C-130 Hercules military aircraft from the US government, which few state media reported, to be used for humanitarian purposes. In fact, the aircraft equipped with the state of the art technology, has a range of purposes form scientific researches to espionage.
Another big turn of events this week was the retirement of Samoura Yinus (Gen.) as Chief of Staff of the Army, also after a long and decorated military career. Samoura who has already passed his retirement age according to sources has extended his retirement period twice.
Samoura, a former TPLF fighter, was replaced by Seare Mekonnen (Gen.), who was his deputy Chief of Staff and next inline in seniority.
According to experts, who are close to the security establishments of Ethiopia, the departure of senior military and intelligence chiefs is timely phenomenon.
An expert whose name withheld upon request gave three reasons for why the PM made such a move.
“The fact that the PM is putting a general into the position of an intelligence chief is suggestive of the lack of confidence in the civilian establishment,” argues the anonymous security expert.
The expert further speculates that Adem is the best candidate who will be loyal to Abiy’s chain of command.
In the same turn of events, Abadulla Gemeda, security advisor to the PM and Girma Biru, former ambassador of Ethiopia to the US, both from PM’s home party OPDO, went into retirement.
According to the same expert, the retirement of Abadulla was not a surprise saying in the first place his appointment as an advisor to the PM was just “a temporary olive branch.”
Abiy has also restored the full ranks and honor of Assamnew Tisge (B. Gen.) and Alemshet Digfe (Maj. Gen) who were accused and convicted of conspiring to overthrow the constitutional order and have been serving the terms of their sentence until PM Abiy released from prison. The two individuals were freed a few weeks ago after serving years behind bars and were stripped of their military ranks.
According to yesterday decision, the two ex-military men will receive full pension benefits and retire with their ranks intact.