Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s policy study and research advisor, Bereket Simon resigns from his post, according to multiple sources. Bereket’s exit comes just days after his board chairmanship at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) was terminated.
Bereket’s ouster had been in the works for months, because of his failing health and his waning influence. Though he was given the option to resign, he was ultimately forced out, according to sources. Talks of rift between other executive members of the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and Bereket has been surfacing for some time, the latter increasingly seen as stand-bearer of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front than his own party, especially in issues related to border conflict between the two regions. Tamrat G. Giorgis, owner of the Addis Fortune, who has long been described as overly chummy with Berket, few weeks ago in his Fineline page wrote that ANDM cadres in the party’s congregation have proven their loyalty to Demeke Mekonnen and Gedu Andargachew, chair and deputy chair of the ANDM, respectively, who also are idolised for symbolising the rising “Amhara democratic nationalism” rather than Bereket whom the paper spoke of highly.
A high placed source told Ethiopia Observer that that President of the Amhara regional state, Gedu Andargachew was not plotting to push Bereket, as was rumored by some groups. Gedu did not have the means to carry out that but it was rather Berket’s own frustration, and mental fatigue that has taken a toll on him, according to the source.
Berekt Simon, whose career had been defined by his close relationship with Meles Zenawi, served as the Minister of Information and information adviser to the late Prime Minster, for more than two decades. He was chief engineer behind the 2005 national elections and the person who steered the state propaganda machinery. Bereket compared the opposition to Rwanda’s interahamwe militia that had killed hundreds of thousands of opponents in that country’s 1994 genocide and civil war. Criticized for the simplicity of his political philosophy, for his neurotic and consistently inflammatory pronouncements, and for his secretive, Machiavellian character, Bereket was nevertheless was well informed about the basic tenets of the philosophy of revolutionary democracy and the person who usually taught cadres about it. Even the new Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, was said to be a student of Bereket.
Bereket was born in an Eritrean family in Dabat, some 50 kilometers north-east of Gondar. While at high school in Gondar, he joined the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary party (EPRP) in 1978, when the movement was being targeted by the “Red Terror “campaign unleashed by Mengistu Haile Mariam’s military regime. As a member of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Army (EPRA), the EPRDF’s armed wing, Bereket Simon fought in the region of Belesa, its capital being Ibnat, some 90 kilometers south-east of Gondar.
A platoon commissar in the EPRPA, he was nominated to become a commissar of a company just before he defected to the Tigrayn People’s Liberation Front.
At the May 1995 election, Bereket simon won a seat for the ANDM in the Amhara region. He was elected in third position after Tamrat Layne and Dawit Yohannes, and ahead of Wondowessen Kebede, a former Finance Minster and Ex-director of Customs who was member of the TPLF before joining the ANDM.