Hailemariam Desalegn gestures, pauses, frowns, and even touches his ears exactly the way his mentor, the late Meles Zenawi, did. Hailemariam, who could hail from Asmara through his Eritrean wife, Roman Tesfai, could definitely be commended as a trained parrot of the late dictator.
|Ms. Roman Tesfai, wife of PM Hailemariam Desalegn, works for African Union, once the domain of Meles Zenawi|
Hailemariam may set an EPRDF agenda for the parliament as Roman may set the agenda for Hailemariam. When Hailemariam and Roman had their first daughter, Ms. Roman called the baby girl Yohanna, a name Eritreans began to give in abundance to girls born around the time Shabiya [Eritrean gov’t] came to power in 1991. ‘Yohanna’ means ‘congratulations!’ In her early 20s, Yohanna for that matter is a close friend of Semhal, the first daughter of Meles Zenawi.
So, when Meles picked up Hailemariam as his deputy, Meles was not only picking up the perfect mimic from Wolaita but also someone whose private or family life is already Eritrean. When sleepless Ethiopians once again raise the issue of the Red Sea and the Port of Assab to Hailemariam Desalegn, expect Meles coming back the grave and spitting obscenities. Forgetting the head of the state, President Girma, is in his 80s, Hailemariam tried to vilify the respected Medrek leaders as senile. He derided them as “aging zealots” who seek a shortcut to power. More surprises are in store.