January 18, 2009

President of Ethiopia's Benishangul-Gumuz region defected

President of Ethiopia's Benishangul-Gumuz region, Ato Yaregal Aysheshum, has defected and joined the opposition camp earlier this month.

The Ethiopian Review Intelligence Unit has learned that Ato Yaregal had sought political asylum in an east African country, and when his safety was threatened, he was taken to a third country.

Although Ato Yaregal was the President of Benishangul-Gumuz, a region that is abundantly fertile and rich in natural resources, he had little say in how the region was administered. As in all the other regions of Ethiopia, all important decisions are being made by officials of the Tigrean People Liberation Front (Woyanne) from Mekelle and Addis Ababa.

Ato Yaregal was particularly disconcerted by Woyanne's recent instigation of ethnic conflicts between Oromos and Benishangul, which finally led him to join the opposition Ginbot 7 Movement, according to ER sources.

After joining Ginbot 7, Ato Yaregal was successful in passing highly valuable information about the regime's criminal activities. When the Woyanne intelligence was getting close to him, he managed to escape with the help of Ginbot 7 local operatives.

Woyanne agents are currently threatening him with confiscating all his properties in the country and hurting members of his family, while reporting that he is abroad getting medical attention, in order to lure him into returning.

Ginbot 7 officials declined to comment on Ato Yaregal's case.



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