Sibhat Nega, a former TPLF leader and key figure in the EPRDF that led the country for nearly three decades, was one of the most wanted individuals in the federal government.
Aboye Sibhat was among those arrested after the government issued a warrant for the arrest of TPLF political and military leaders following a military conflict in Tigray in late October.
Aboye Sibhat Nega, an 86-year-old member of the noble family, has been a teacher, civil servant, fighter, chairman of the TPLF, and an influential figure in the EPRDF and the Ethiopian government for decades.
Above all, Aboye Sebhat has managed to lead institutions that have a significant impact on the country’s economy and foreign affairs.
For many years, he has run many of the much-talked-about Effort companies that the TPLF claims belong to the people of Tigray.
He also headed the Ethiopian Institute for Strategic Studies until his retirement.
Aboye Sibhat was reportedly wanted by the country’s security forces and taken to Addis Ababa with his wife and sister last weekend in a difficult mountainous area in Tigray.
Forty-six years ago, in February 1967, he was one of the founders of the TPLF. Veteran fighter Mr. Sibhat Nega. They are also better known as Aboye.
Most of the TPLF’s founders are students from Addis Ababa University in Tigray. Previously, there was a group at the university called the Tigray National Progressive Association.
Aboye Sibhat, a founding member of the association, told the BBC that he had been coming to Addis Ababa from Yirgalem to take part in discussions about the upcoming armed struggle.
He was born in 1928 in Adi Abeto, a suburb of the historic city of Adwa in the central zone of the Tigray region during the Italian invasion.
His father, Dejazmach Nega, was a district administrator and went to various places to work as a secretary, he said in an 1989 interview with Efoita magazine.
Aboye Sibhat began his education in the city of Adwa, where he was born.
They also say that he was originally a student of a priest. They began their education at the same modern school.
At that time, their father moved with them to Zana Wadi. They remember their father saying, ‘You are my heir,’ and they were engaged in farming.
However, at the urging of their brothers, they returned to school and continued their education in Adwa until the 8th grade.
He completed his high school education in the ancient Emperor Yohannes’ school in Mekele.
In an interview with The Reporter: “My [younger brother] graduated then [in high school],” he said late in school.
His classmate, Aboy Sibhat, was a ninth-grader in 1955 and told the BBC he was one of the school’s motivators during the anti-feudal student protests.
He later joined the armed struggle as a TPLF leader and is remembered for his activism.
Prior to joining the University, Aboye Sibhat traveled to Selena and Goha Zion, Fiche and Debre Berhan as teachers.
He entered the university and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics. He also worked for one year as an economist in the Ministry of Economy.
“I asked for a transfer to Tigray because there was a question of ethnicity at this time,” Aboy Sebhat told Yefoita magazine years ago. Their transfer request was rejected and they returned to work as teachers.
He then returned to Adwa to work as the director of Queen Saba School. Shortly thereafter, he moved to the southern Ethiopian town of Yirgalem to teach.
“While I was a teacher there, the Derg came to power,” he told Relief magazine.
The term Aboy is a very important expression for the people of Tigray. The word may not only refer to age but also to ‘major’.
It is often the title bestowed on a person who, as a patriot, is involved in mediation and reconciliation and is highly respected.
Gesesse Ayele Aboy, a member of Emperor Haile Selassie’s regime who led the youth to the Dedebit Desert to protest the regime, is 10 years older than Sebul.
When Suhul died in 1968, he was preceded in death by an older man. Farmers who supported the protesters chanted ‘Aboy’ when they saw the beard.
Following this, their comrades began to call the comedic salute ‘Aboy’.
The joke is that once Meles Zenawi was sick and his friends were carrying him on a stretcher, the farmers he met on the road asked, ‘Who are you carrying?’ When asked: It is said that Aboye Sibhat responded that Meles was the speaker who was jokingly saying, “It is the tongue.”
Not only salutations, but many TPLF fighters are nicknamed during the armed struggle. Aboye remains the name of the person who was arrested.
During the TPLF’s armed struggle, they were organized into cities; In the early years of the struggle, Aboye Sebhat was one of the seven leaders.
At the time, the organization’s interim chairman was Dr. Berha. After the organization’s first conference in 1971, Aboye Sebhat was elected its first chairman.
He led Hahat for ten years until Meles Zenawi took over the chairmanship in 1981. In the early years of the armed struggle, his comrades testified that he was a determined fighter.
However, they have repeatedly been accused of causing networking and division within the organization’s top management.
He is said to have been one of the reasons for the 1968 split in the organization, known as ‘Hinfishfish’, and the 1977 departure of Dr. Berha (Dr.) and Ato Gedei Zeratsion from the organization.
During the post-Ethio-Eritrean partition in 1993, senior members of the organization were arrested and tortured by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Aboye Sibhat is said to have worked tirelessly for the security forces, the army and the organization’s central committee to stand by the prime minister.
However, at the end of Meles’ tenure, he was reportedly unhappy with the resignation of Effort, who had run the country’s largest production and service company for a long time.
Prime Minister Meles appointed Abadi Zemo as his successor, followed by his wife, Azeb Mesfin, to lead the giant institution.
Although the TPLF has long claimed that Effort, which holds high-capital institutions, belongs to the people of Tigray; For nearly three decades, it has been run by political appointees.
The TPLF leadership, in principle, follows a centralized coalition leadership and has no inclination to express its views outside the organization.
Although they are aware of this, they do not hesitate to speak up.
“Individual or group-based struggles will not succeed,” he told the BBC last year.
“The TPLF has sacrificed more for Eritrea’s independence than the EPRDF,” he said. They allege that the EPRDF “began negotiations with the Derg regime in the last hours.”
Aboye Sibhat is known to have openly stated that there is widespread corruption in the EPRDF.
“Corruption is a growing disease,” he said. The BBC had asked him if his name would be associated with corruption.
“She has to be called. There is no hero who can find out who is corrupt? Who is innocent? There is no determination,” he said unequivocally.
Aboye Sebhat, who believes the United States has a hand in the way Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power two years ago, publicly criticized the EPRDF, saying, “The EPRDF has disintegrated. The constitution has collapsed and the federal system has collapsed.”