Oromia-Ethiopia: Wikileaks on Kuma Demeksa, a.k.a. Taye Teklehaimanot
In one of the U.S. embassy cables released by Wikileaks, the then U.S. Ambassador to Addis Ababa noted the following in May 2008 (for the full quote, click here):
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SUBJECT: PARTY-HACK ANOINTED MAYOR OF ADDIS ABABA
BIO ON THE MAYOR
3. (U) The newly-elected mayor, Kuma Demeksa, a.k.a. Taye Teklehaimanot, was born in Oromiya Region of Amhara parents in 1958. He completed his elementary and secondary education in Gore town, Illubabor Zone of Oromiya Region. Kuma joined an elite police force in the early 1970’s and was promoted to the rank of captain after the 1974 revolution that brought the “Dergue” military regime of Mengistu Hailemariam to power. As a member of the elite police force, Kuma served in Eritrea, where he was captured and made a prisoner of war by the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) guerilla forces.
4. (SBU) In an agreement reached between Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and EPLF in 1981, the guerilla forces handed Kuma over to TPLF. TPLF “re-educated” Kuma and allowed him to join the Ethiopian Peoples’ Democratic Movement, EPDM (the non-Tigrayan, junior partner of TPLF). In 1990, Kuma Demeksa quit EPDM to form the Oromo Peoples’ Democratic Organization (OPDO), the Oromo wing of EPRDF. When the EPRDF coalition came to power in 1991, Kuma was appointed as Minister of Interior in the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (1991-1995). Kuma’s leverage at the helm of the Interior Ministry was overshadowed by the effective control held by Tigrayan security chief Kinfe Gebre Medhin (assassinated in May 2001). When Ethiopia’s federal government was established in 1995, Kuma was elected head of the executive committee of Oromiya Region. Kuma remained President of Oromiya region until July 2001.
5. (SBU) Kuma temporarily fell out of favor following the split within TPLF in the Spring of 2001 because he supported the dissident TPLF group led by Seeye Abraha, who was later jailed for six years for corruption. In July 2001, Kuma was officially removed from his position as president of Oromiya region and Secretary General of OPDO because of allegations of corruption, abuse of power and anti-democratic practices. He laid low for more than a year.
6. (SBU) In late 2002, Kuma re-emerged and was appointed as one of the three State Ministers at the Ministry of Capacity Building under the supervision of the austere party ideologue, Tefera Waliwa. He served as state minister until October 2005. Embassy contacts say that Kuma convinced the TPLF leadership that he had been “reformed” and demonstrated unconditional loyalty to the party while serving as State Minister under the watchful eyes of Tefera Waliwa. Kuma was subsequently appointed as Minister of Defense in October 2005 when Prime Minister Meles reshuffled his cabinet in the wake of the 2005 national election.
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