Aida Kidane: What about Solomon WoldeMariam?
Adhanom Fitwi: Solomon WoldeMariam and Issaias had very big differences and Issaias feared Solomon’s power. Solomon at that time was security head and head of Halewa Sewra, of training center, of the enemy lines, army front leader, of Central command. Issaias was only of front and chairman in name only; he was not that powerful as Solomon. It was the power of Solomon who crushed the Menkae movement. He came to power because of his experiences in military and ability. He put his trusted men in positions in all ranks up to brigade, battalion leaders. This power concerned Issaias.
In the first cadre graduation in Semanawi Bahri, Haile Woldetinsae (Durue) was the head instructor who we did not differentiate from Issaias and he called Solomon worthless. Because Durue was totally Issaias’ yes man, and his right hand man. Durue was in prison in the Menkae uprising. He did not try to solve later. Solomon's men had been in the cadre school after Menkae purges. Solomon was biding for his power against Issaias and sent rumors that Issaias had said the Menkae case should have been solved democratically. Since Solomon had more powerful officers though Issaias was the chairman, Solomon's men said Issaias himself can be charged and put into prison. It had gone that far, and this reached to the ears of Issaias, and their relationship began getting worse.
Issaias is a very smart person and told Solomon WoldeMariam - Osman Sabbe had closed our incomes and may close the Sudan route. We may be forced to give ourselves up to the Ethiopians, which are horrible, and you are the best suited person to go there and solve the problem. Secondly, Issaias added to Solomon, that his health was disturbing the EPLF leadership and he wanted him to get medication in the meantime. Solomon had liver problem. Solomon was a naïve (gerhi) person. Solomon thought he must be an important person that Issaias is concerned about his health, and he went to Port Sudan as advised by Issaias. He was at the office and started medication and city life suited him. No supporter of Solomon was allowed to travel to Sudan then, in front of our eyes. Solomon was now sent to Port Sudan. Solomon was later charged of being a Yemin or rightist and he disappeared.
Immediately, it was said that being anti Menkae and being Yemin was destructive to the front and all supporters of Solomon, leaders of brigades, battalions etc were imprisoned. These were put together with the Menkae left-overs. We became confused who the faulty party was. Menkae and anti-Menkaes were imprisoned together. Solomon's supporters now realized the game played by Issaias, but it was too late.
It is worth commenting that the EPLF first Congress supposedly to have been the first principled and democratic, was completely undemocratic. First, anyone suspected with Menkae or the Yemin was not to be elected, meaning only Issaias' people were to be elected. The congress was preconditioned and Issaias' people were the nominators. The leadership was nine members with Solomon, and the 8 continued in the leadership with some new ones added to them. And the Central Committee became 36 people. Then Solomon realized the game played up on him. He had studied to 10th grade and was brilliant militarily, though not politically. It was feared then that after being demoted, Solomon might shoot Issaias. Solomon was asked about his opinion on the First Congress. He said in the Congress 'I, Solomon, brought this front to this stage - and there - you are… who are more knowledgeable - so you lead'.
Solomon was leading one ganta or two in Keren region, and they did not let him to go to Kebessa and he said ' This Tigrean has lured me' meaning Issaias, we heard later. Claims that Issaias was of Tigrean origin, it was only then from Solomon that we heard. Nobody knows how deep their disagreement was. Issaias used to make comrades enemies of each other, even after entering Asmara he made Durue, Petros Solomon, Sebhat, and Sherifo dislike each other and not cooperate. It was tactic used by Issaias. He would tell one of the leaders, he is a good fighter but keep away from that scoundrel (another leader). And he tells the same to the other leader making both sides suspicious of each other. Earlier, he would easily have solved the disagreements between Solomon, Asmerom and Tewolde Eyob. They were in leadership and they ignored each other. They were later nine in leadership, from the Obel like Abu Tyara and Abu Ejal. Romadan Mohammed Nur and Mesfin Hagos etc were from Shaebea who were more in numbers. Solomon, Issaias, Tewolde Eyob, Asmerom etc were from Selfi-Natsenet group.
Memories of Menkae and After:
Interview with Adhanom Fitwi - Holland 14.10.04
Fitwi, Adhanom (2004) - Memories of Menkae and After.