Kinijit's recent problems have highlighted EPRDF's new public relations strategy. The state media which usually pounces on problems within opposition groups has stayed silent this time; leaving that task to the pro-EPRDF private newspapers such as Amare Aregawi's The Reporter. The Reporter had several stories and articles about Kinijit's alleged division. The newspaper which had vociferously criticized Kinijit's chairman Hailu Shawel after the election has now tacitly supported him with the chairman's supporters in Kinijit like Bedru Adem, Nigist Gebrehiwot and Mesobewerk Kitaw all getting front page treatment.
Sources at the paper say that the owner and editor-in-chief of The Reporter, Ato Amare Aregawi, has told two of his journalists to dig stories that show the true extent of the split within Kinijit. The stories were presented with a bit of spin in Hailu Shawel's favour by the paper's deputy editor-in-chief, Eshete Assefa, who has long-standing friendship with Mesobewek Kitaw. Amare hasn't so far objected to the way the stories are put out as his sole focus is to play out the division in public and destroy the party. "He doesn't care an iota as to the individual leaders and their positions. His objective is the destruction of Kinijit," a journalist working at the paper tells EZ Post.
Another pro-EPRDF newspaper, Ethio-Channel, owned by the advertiser Samson Mamo, has also given a lot of attention to the recent problems. Ethio-Channel had last saturday a two-pages inteview with Bedru Adem, the man who since Kaliti days has played a huge role in aggravating the personal differences between Hailu Shawel and Brehanu Nega. In his court defense, Bedru had claimed that he couldn't bear collective responsibility with the other Kinijit leaders for the criminal charges that the public prosecutor instituted against him as he had resigned from Kinijit before the November protest. But that hasn't stopped him from attacking Brehanu Nega and Birtukan Mideksa stating that he is still a member of the Kinijit council. His pictures and quotes now admonish the pages of pro-EPRDF newspapers in Addis Ababa.
EPRDF, meanwhile, has tried to appear as if it were above the fray. The state media's new slogan is "War on Poverty", with most attention given to Ethiopia's economic development. Kinijit's problem hasn't received a single minute so far except on Mimi Sinhatu's talkshow. Mimi's core audience are EPRDF members and supporters.
Sources who are close to government officials say that the government has understood that its public hostility towards Kinijit has backfired, and any playing out of Kinijit's problems on the state media would be interpreted by a lot of Ethiopians as EPRDF's attempt to destroy the party. "They want the public to know about the problems, but not through the government media. Instead, they are using Ethio-Channel and The Reporter," says one of the sources.