Tigray Net 2012 Person of the Year: Seeye Abraha

Washington DC – Ato Seeye Abraha has been named Tigray Net’s Person of the Year.

Ato Seeye Abraha beat our contenders to win TigrayNet’s Person of the Year 2012

Thanks to everyone who voted

Seeye Abraha – PROFILE

Siye Abraha (also Seeye Abraha) was one of the leaders of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), and later a member of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). After the TPLF defeated the Derg in the Ethiopian Civil War, Siye served in the government of Ethiopia as Minister of Defence, and was Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray from its founding in 1995 until 2000.[1]

He was Minister at the beginning of the Eritrean-Ethiopian War. Ethiomedia states that “many observers credit as the architect of the 1998-2000 War whose battle successes had brought Ethiopian forces closer to storming the Eritrean capital of Asmara.”[2] Despite Ethiopian successes, the TPLF divided into two groups. One group, which included Siye, believed that the leadership was about to surrender the party to foreign “imperialist” interests.

The other group which included Prime Minister Meles Zenawi argued that the TPLF was sinking into decadence, involving itself in Bonapartism and accusing their opponents of extensive corruption.[3]

Siye was arrested in July 2002, accused by the Federal Ethics and Anticorruption Commission of abuse of office by aiding his associates to unfairly obtain bank loans and buying state properties. He was afterwards charged with two specific acts: that he had pressured the state-owned Commercial Bank of Ethiopia to provide loans to his brother, Mihretab Abraha; and that he helped Mihretab obtain a 19% discount for 15 trucks he purchased from AMCE, a truck-assembly plant in which the Ethiopian government owned a 30% stake.[3] In a hearing, the Federal judge, Birtukan Mideksa, set Siye free for lack of evidence, however he was subsequently arrested by the government the moment he left the building and imprisoned for six years.[2]

On 11 June 2007, the Ethiopian Supreme Court dropped the charge that he had pressured the bank to give his brother loans, while convicting him on the charge that he helped his brother Mihretab get discounts on seven of the 15 trucks. At the same session, Mihretab was sentenced to five years imprisonment and a 1,000 Birr fine, along with a number of their friends and relatives who heard their sentences at the same time. However, because most of them had been imprisoned they were released.[3]

In July of the following year, Siye became a founding member of the Forum for Democratic Dialogue (FDD), a new coalition of opposition parties and activists.[4] Since then he, along with ex-President Negasso Gidada, another former member of the EPRDF, have announced that they have joined the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party, a coalition of which the FDD is a member.

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