Yene Gasha 10-22-19
Tigray is facing a real and present existential threat. As discussed in part one of the article published on September 19, 2019, that the two-decade long sabotage against TPLF and Tigrayans which began outside of EPRDF, officially merged two years ago with an intra-EPRDF betrayal. This betrayal has now made it impossible for the ruling coalition to recover as a party much less to effect party unification.
A group within EPRDF calling itself Oro-Amhara (purposefully excluding Tigrayans along with the remaining 80+ ethnic groups) repeatedly tried to inflict harm on Tigray and Tigrayans, including by attempting to starve us through a well-orchestrated blockade that still persists today. Tigray was recently even denied, through the federal parliament, access to funding for water projects that it had already received from the Chinese. This could only be understood as a continued attempt to inflict maximum damage on Tigray’s civilian population.
But recently, in an about-face the EPRDF faction that has been attempting to destroy Tigray over the past eighteen months suddenly adopted a new strategy of lulling Tigray’s leaders into a false belief that it has become remorseful, while secretly advancing its ultimate strategy.
Let’s just remember, two years ago TPLF thought it had reached an understanding with the other parties within EPRDF. TPLF leaders unfortunately did not fully grasp then that ODP and ADP members were in fact simply telling them what they wanted to hear. Ultimately, the faction betrayed them at an opportune time and used TPLF as a scapegoat for all ills within EPRDF and the country, and even tried to pin poverty-related and other challenges across the country on “Tigrigna” speakers.
Despite this, a couple of months ago following the most recent EPRDF central committee meeting, TPLF leaders were on various talk shows expressing their belief that PM Abiy and his team have now perhaps seen the error of their ways and that they were ready to course correct.
Unfortunately, TPLF appears to be repeating the same fatal mistakes again. They are failing miserably yet again to recognize that this group was simply telling them what they wanted to hear then and is doing the same now just to buy time until it completes its preparation for an all-out confrontation with TPLF and the people of Tigray. And the recently floated rumor that ODP is split into two, whether true or not, is just another distraction that could very well prevent Tigrayans from planning and preparing for all eventualities. What’s been happening in the Afar region lately should be seen as the precursor?
I had warned TPLF back in September that the conciliatory gesture we were seeing from this group was just a tactical maneuver. Now, the self-identified Oro-Amhara group’s hidden strategy has been all but unveiled with the advent of the PM’s “medemer” mantra and the soon expected Ethiopian Prosperity Party.
It is very difficult to call “medemer” a philosophy because it’s nothing but the cobbling together of a bunch of platitudes like love, equality and democracy – mostly intended to give Western powers currently aiding and abetting the authoritarian brutality that is beginning to emerge across Ethiopia much needed face-saving cover story.
In reality, we haven’t seen any one of these platitudes actually practiced over the past two years. Words are meaningless. Action is what we must judge. And, on that score,we have witnessed hateful vindictiveness grip the federal government against anyone who offers opposing views. We have seen certain ethnic groups receive preferential treatment. For instance, one group could openly threaten the lives of condominium lottery winning citizens on camera, while another is carted off to secrete prisons for nonviolent expression of an opposing view.
The international community will not condemn these actions because that would get in the way of the pending transaction to purchase Ethiopia’s key assets – our telecommunication systems, our energy sector (with close to a dozen large dams), our banking system and even Africa’s beloved Ethiopian Airlines all on offer to outsiders.
Based on what we’ve seen to-date, the medemer mantra seems to suggest Ethiopians are free to live happily only if they sign onto federal government’s new ideology. Citizens do not appear to have inalienable right to follow their own God-given preferences. In today’s Ethiopia, one cannot become a peaceful, non-violent activist against medemer. Just ask Eskinder Nega and his group if the current leadership really walks the talk. They have not been able to organize a peaceful demonstration in support of Addis Ababa’s right to self-governance.
Furthermore, in the last eighteen months we have seen basic values of society degrade in the midst of all of these platitudes. Shiny and superficial renovation of a handful of buildings funded by Ethiopia’s historical enemies will not fool anyone but the few sheep and foreign interests seeking to purchase the nation’s assets to control the nation’s economy.It is not surprising that the new government’s first order of business was to repeal the regulation– the Charities and Societies Proclamation Number 621/2009 – that prevented extremists from funding religious groups masquerading as NGOs engaged in potentially terroristic propaganda and activities.
In the North, the strategy against Tigray is self-evident:
1. Sow division and discord among Tigrayans
2. Through this division, weaken TPLF
3. Push for EPRDF’s unification to ultimately control Tigray and all other regions with minority ethnic groups
4. Since TPLF has refused to play ball, replace them with the likes of ARENA or some other puppet “Tigrayan” party (ARENA’s leaders are mostly former TPLF members intoxicated by revenge politics)
5. Actualize party unification without TPLF
6. In collaboration with Tigray’s internal and external enemies, try to install the puppet “Tigrayan” party in power to control Tigray (including perhaps by use of force)
7. Eliminate Tigray’s autonomy and destroy our independence by any means necessary
8. Make Tigray and Tigrayans subservient within Ethiopia
The party unification agenda is nothing but an attempt to have centralized, authoritarian party structure with zero internal democracy or regional autonomy. This is somewhat amusing when one recalls how PM Abiy had said recently that the competing press releases within EPRDF were in fact an excellent demonstration of the emerging party democracy. Why then is his team trying to eliminate such democracy by imposing authoritarian party rule? Well, the answer is obvious. Without it, the current PM will not survive another election within EPRDF. Therefore, if you do not have popular support within your party, try to remake it in your image.
Nevertheless, the question for TPLF and Tigrayans at large is: where do we go from here?
Firstly, it is paramount for Tigray’s State Council to pass legislation TODAY that will trigger article 39 automatically and retroactively if the federal government does anything material to undermine the current constitution, including declaring a state of emergency intended to suspend the constitutional order.
Such legislation would simply give Tigray legal standing so no one (including the international community) could have any room to raise questions of legality if such action becomes absolutely necessary. And initiating the process for article 39 does not mean actual separation from Ethiopia either. That is a decision of last resort which must only be made if no other alternatives remain. But, this option and the legal means to do it must be on the table. And, the Tigray State Council does not have to publicize this legislation(s) either. Simply record it in the books.
Secondly, maintaining Tigray’s unity is paramount if Tigrayans want to prevent this EPRDF faction from infiltrating Tigrayans for the ultimate purpose of dismantling Tigray and subjugating our people. We all know how Tigray’s disunity following the death of Yohannes IV led to our subjugation for an entire 100 years. This has always been Tigray’s Achilles heel. We must not repeat history!
On this score, it may sound counterintuitive, but TPLF must openly welcome constructive criticism of its governance practices. This is not a sign of weakness, but rather a show of strength. I understand TPLF is split between those incorruptible Woyanes who are trying to put their people’s interests ahead of theirs and those corrupt opportunists that have prevented TPLF’s leadership from solving the region’s challenges. But, the party must once and for all clean up its organization of corrupt individuals, opportunists and criminals before it’s too late. Here, I’m not referring to the fraudulent charges that have been leveled against some TPLF leaders by the group in Addis Ababa. We all know those charges are motivated solely by thedesire to weaken Tigray’s resistance to an impending subjugation. Instead, I’m referring to real corruption that both TPLF and the people of Tigray know exists in Tigray. By the way, relocating these corrupt individuals from one locale to another is not a solution. Get rid of them.
TPLF has no more than three months to eliminate this as a cause of disunity.
Let’s be honest. Tigray will be tested severely within a few months’ time. At that point, Tigray’s ability to withstand such international pressure will be as good as our weakest corrupt links. Therefore, TPLF must deal with these tragic elements in its midst decisively as soon as possible.
One way the leadership can address this is by establishing an Internal Affairs division, reporting directly to a leadership councilof the Government of Tigray. The Internal Affairs division’s job must be to immediately and thoroughly investigate allegations of wrong doing by TPLF cadres and other public servants wherever they are found. The recent AdiDaero incident is a sign that such problems could escalate and be used by outside forces trying to destabilize Tigray. The Tigray government must name incorruptible individuals to this Internal Affairs division answerable only to Tigray’s top leadership and get to work immediately to address this issue holistically. (Note: this division must be answerable to the government of Tigray and NOT to the party.)
Thirdly, while securing Tigray’s unity, TPLF must swiftly move Tigray from victim hood politics to renaissance politics.
A society without dreams and aspirations is a dead society. In this regard, two schools of thought have emerged. One group believes TPLF must only focus on Tigray and ignore everything else, while a second group suggests Tigray’s salvation is only through Ethiopia and thus TPLF must return to Ethiopian politics full force.
Both of these approaches are wrong (although I do sympathize with those wanting to focus only on Tigray). Like many of you, I too have been bruised and battered by past Tigrayan politicians who simply forgot Tigray once they settled nicely into Ethiopia’s federal apparatus in Addis Ababa. They gravely failed to solve Tigray’s burning challenges around justice and development, which has made us vulnerable to the current conundrum.
In my opinion, Tigray must operate at the local, national, regional and international levels if we are to ensure our right to freedom, self-determination, independence and renaissance. But, what exactly are our politicians doing at all of these four levels today? Are they analyzing the realities on the ground as they really are? Are they planning? Are they acting?
But, what is no longer excusableis for TPLF leaders to buy into whatever new strategy Addis Ababa and its foreign handles deploy. What is unacceptable is to listen to the news of division within ODP and sit on our hands, expecting a solution to come from enlightened Oromo leaders.
No one else will be Tigray’s salvation but Tigrayans. Thus, let us strengthen Tigray from within. If we are done with preparations, let’s double and triple all aspects of that preparation (this means at present our effort is only one-third complete). If we are sure, let’s double and triple check our solutions. If we want to succeed, we must negotiate from the position of strength and stability – a feat that cannot be achieved without focusing on Tigray first and without eliminating the corruption from within.
TPLF must prepare itself and its citizens for all eventualities. It has no more than three to six months to complete all preparations to securing itself, Tigray’s dignity and to assure our future. It should not repeat recent mistakes. The first go-round was fatal for EPRDF. The next one will be fatal for TPLF, and by extension the people of Tigray.
Author’s Note: Due to the length of the article, the discussion of the core elements of Tigray’s renaissance agenda have been moved to part three and will soon follow. Part three will focus on what Tigray’s focus should be for long-term stability and prosperity.
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