Deputy Chief of Ethiopian intelligence removed from office

isayas-woldegiorgisESAT News (May 24, 2016)

Reports reaching ESAT from Addis Ababa say the second-in-command of the Ethiopian intelligence, Essayas Woldegiorgis has been removed from his post. The wife of Woldegiorgis, who is also an employee of the Ethiopian National Intelligence and Security Service, has also been fired.

Essayas Woldegiorgis is the central committee member of the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front. It is not clear if he still maintains his position in the party. He is now kept under watch by security forces, according to the sources.

Woldegiorgis is a veteran of the TPLF since its days as a guerilla group and was the head of the notorious “Bado Sidist,” a torture dungeon of the Front, where dissenters undergo unimaginable torture before they are executed.

Woldegiorgis sided with the late dictator Meles Zenawi when the TPLF split in 2001. He was the de facto head of the intelligence in the last three years of Meles’ administration despite the official position of chief of intelligence was held by Getachew Assefa, who is still the head of intelligence and who, sources say, has fired Woldegiorgis. The Prime Minister has the power to hire or fire top intelligence directors, but sources say PM Hailemariam Desalegn had no knowledge of the firing of Woldegiorgis.

Woldegiorgis was also instrumental in arresting opposition party members and journalists during the 2005 elections. He directed the operation in arresting the then members of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, the party that won the 2005 election, which was rigged by the TPLF.

Woldegiorgis has been a close ally of the widow of Meles Zenawi, Azeb Mesfin, who was seen at the Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC on Saturday. It is not clear if her sudden visit to the US was related to the developments back home.

Woldegiorgis’ position was filled by Hadera Abera who is a veteran of the intelligence office and who had also worked at the same office during the previous regime of Mengistu Hailemariam.