Ethiopia is at a Crossroad - What will TPLF and Tigrai Government Do Next?
Hiyab Natey June 6, 2019
As you can tell Ethiopia is sliding into chaos. The everyday news is filled with killings, day time robbery, and displacement of people. Ethiopia is number one in the world in internal displacement and soon it may be one of the largest countries that have become a failed state. In the old days, university students were at the forefront of many popular and ideological campaigns to bring change. Today university students are at the forefront of the many mob killing campaigns all over the country. Why is this happening to the people of Ethiopia? And what are the politicians and regional governments doing to solve the issues ailing this great country? The following is my understanding after talking to many well-informed people during my last trip to Tigrai.
To begin from the top politician, to date, I am not aware of any effort by the Abiy government except his campaign to clean Addis Ababa. I am not aware of any effort by the other regional governments either, although I cannot speak about all regional politicians or governments. If I have to go by what people are saying on the subject matter; it would be naivety to expect a solution from the current political leaders and regional government heads for the problem(s) since they are part of the problem! Many people told me the mayhem, killings, and displacements in the Amhara region is clearly condone by the current political leaders and regional government officials. (asmanew tsige speaking)
And what are the Tigrai government and political leaders doing to stop the killings within their region?
Tigrai has been relatively calm and peaceful compared to other regions in the country, although, a student was killed at Axum University just a few days ago!
This did not go well with Debretsion Gebre Michael, the current acting president of Tigrai. (Debretsion Speech) Unlike other regional leaders who never acknowledge guilt when such killing is carried in their cities and towns, Debretsion has vowed to apprehend all the criminals and accept responsibility immediately! He warned the students and the people at large not to hide criminals and not to allow such criminal acts in their midst! Debretsion has also instructed the security forces to do a better job in avoiding such criminal acts in the future.
Ever since Abiy came to power, the TPLF and Tigrai government have distanced themselves from his government because he has started to contravene the constitution and started the dismantling of the developmental state agenda! TPLF for all practical purpose has been concentrating all its effort to create awareness of the political developments in Ethiopia which have become the source for all the killings. It has spent considerable time educating the public using its own cadre and using the airwaves.
TPLF believes the main problem of the country is still the abject poverty the people live in and if it can manage the development agenda within the state all the killings and displacements seen elsewhere will not find fertile ground in Tigrai.
With that mindset, It has been closely managing the development program of the state despite many challenges including uncalled interventions by the federal government! It is trying hard to finish all federally funded projects in the state despite the hardship the projects are facing due to funding. The only project that has stopped completely so far is the rail project that was supposed to connect the state to the Djibouti Awash rail network!
While the state government is prepared to do all in its power to avoid any future mob killing in its soil, it has also decided not to look the other way when it comes to what is happening elsewhere in the country anymore!
Talking to a knowledgeable person about the current thinking of the TPLF, TPLF may be ready to fight head-on against what is killing the country! The thinking in Tigrai is unless the federal government returns to governing the country based on the constitution, Tigrai will either be forced to declare nationhood or start a campaign to change the current government with the help of democratic and federalist groups in the country. The prevailing consensus is that Tigrai has paid enough to leave the federal arrangement now! It should instead try to pressure the federal government to respect the constitution until the next election. Given the overwhelming dislike of the Abiy government by the people, it is likely TPLF will adopt the latter approach and may start the critical campaign to have federalist control the government!
Although there is a concern whether federal forces like the army and police will remain neutral during such campaign, all is certain; TPLF will not sit idle anymore!
The other campaigned planned is to lobby Western Government Officials that are sponsoring the Abiy government despite all the horrendous displacement and killings under his watch! Many people I talked are dumbfounded why all the former EPRDF government officials and diplomats who have extensive network and relationship with the politicians in DC and London are not doing anything to help the Trump White House and 10 Downing Street realize what is happening in Ethiopia!
Though unable to confirm, there is a rumor some effort is underway to start a lobbying campaign against Abiy government lack of ability to govern constitutionally. In fact, some western embassy officials in Addis are worried about Abiy’s inability to govern and the fact that the country is going the wrong direction.
I understand why the late Meles Zenawi said development and democracy must go hand in hand in Ethiopia. I honestly thought Meles was asking too much of the people to do both. With hindsight, I was not wrong! How can anyone convince a poor Oromo soul to vote against a person who is promising him/her one of the Addis Ababa high-rise apartments? How can anyone convince a poor Amhara soul to vote against someone who is promising him/her the lush fields of Wolqayit and Raya is his/her to have? How can a poor Somali soul vote against a person who is promising him/her the oil will be yours if you vote for me? You see, Meles was indeed asking too much! He was right both development and democracy should go hand in hand but he should have also said in no uncertain term Ethiopia will need a strong government to manage both development and democratization successfully! Hailemariam nor Abiy was/is what you call a head of a strong government! Abiy thinks if Qebena River becomes green again all the problems in Ethiopia will be solved!
Today Ethiopia is nearly ruined in the name of ‘democracy'. If someone does not stop the current madness all the developments of the past will be destroyed soon! It will be a blessing if TPLF readies one more time to sacrifice to defeat the evil spirit besieging the country! Amen.
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