TPLF seemingly gearing up to reverse the changing power relations. It is opposing decisions from last EPRDF executive meeting and recent appointments. It sees an impending struggle and is calling for an emergency EPRDF meeting while calling the people of Tigray to stand by its side.
When the new prime minister was heading to Uganda and Egypt for an official visit, Tigray people’s Liberation Front (TPLF) called for an emergency meeting in Mekelle, which was completed yesterday.
Today, the party made public decisions from the meeting which highlighted points of difference with the ruling coalition, Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, a party it used to dominate for nearly three decades.
Ideological betrayal, mobilizations against TPLF and the people of Tigray, and “illegal movements” on matters related to identity and boundary issues (TPLF believes issues like these have been addressed by the constitution once and for all) against the interest of the people of Tigray are some cardinal points that TPLF is complaining about.
The party believes that revolutionary democracy, the ideology it pitched in the ruling coalition and served as guradian, is facing threats from cliques within the ruling party since recent years. Effort to ensure “in-depth renewal”, as TPLF calls it, in the interest of continuity of the political creed which the party hold dear for the past 27 years has not been a success.
Executives of TPLF linked the failure to renew the party,in a way to align with theories of the ideology, to the erosion of revolutionary democracy character of the leadership in the ruling coalition. In the past, the party made it clear that neoliberalism has become a challenge and projected an image, through social media rhetoric and state controlled media propaganda, that it was fighting the contending ideology.
The statement from TPLF also made references to the latest EPRDF executive meeting which passed decisions on foreign relation issue regarding Eritrea and economic decisions to partially, or fully, privatize selected public enterprises including the successful national carrier – Ethiopian Airlines.
While hailing the decision to improve relation with Eritrea as “timely and appropriate,” the ethnic Tigray party which is losing the ability to dictate member parties of the ruling coalition says announcing the decision to the public was a wrong move before discussing the issue within EPRDF council and partnering political organizations that don’t constitute membership in the executive committee and the public. It is to remembered that the late Meles Zenawi, who was the chairman of TPLF and EPRDF, signed the Algiers Peace Agreement in December of 2000 amid simmering opposition to it in Ethiopia.
Regarding the issue of privatization, TPLF seem to have a great deal of enthusiasm to create an image that it argued in favor of what it called lasting solutions to resolve existing economic crisis in the country, and ostensibly it is admitting that Ethiopia is living an economic crisis, rather than selling national assets.
TPLF appears as if it is arguing , from the statement, that the economic problem could only be solved durably by adhering to revolutionary democracy principle, implying not by adopting neoliberal measures. But what critics of TPLF point to is: who is in responsible in the first place for the existing economic crisis in the country and which political entity amassed billions of dollars of tax payers money in illegal bank loan arrangement to finance a huge business empire in Ethiopia and who borrowed billions of dollars from banks in China and else where?
The TPLF statement goes on to claim that the Executive committee of the ruling party failed to discuss issues and agenda raised during the Executive committee meeting in March 2018 which came after prime minister Hailemariam Desalgne announced resignation.
Further, TPLF made it clear that it has differences with the leadership in the ruling coalition regarding recent appointments; TPLF says that they violate EPRDF regulations and practices. It did not, however, spell out as to which appointments violate EPRDF rules and why they do so.
In an apparent move to respond to popular protest that has been shaking Ethiopia for more than three years, which was to a great extent about equitable and proportional allocation of power if not about fundamental revolutionary changes, prime minister Abiy Ahmed made personnel changes within the military and intelligence apparatus which led to removal of heads of these institutions who happened to be from TPLF. Unlike TPLF, the reform like measures has made the new prime minister popular among Ethiopians and that he seem to have the support of majority within the ruling coalition as well.
Even more bewildering, TPLF executive committee demanded “recognition” for veteran TPLF leadership. But again it did not explain it. In fact this issue runs against popular sentiment of Ethiopians as majority of Ethiopians rather seem to be interested in seeing them held accountable for numerous unlawful killings over the past 27 years and for grand corruption scandals. For example, industrial-military institutions like METEC admitted in parliament that 9 billion Ethiopian birr is unaccounted for.
Perhaps as a hint to interest in reversing the changing power relation in the ruling party which could possibly take revolutionary line in the course of time, TPLF sees impending, and inevitable, struggle between what it calls “democratic forces” (a reference to those who stand behind TPLF) on the one hand and “cliques” within the party on the other, and it called for the people of Tigray to be on its side. The party also demanded EPRDF to call an emergency meeting.
This may mean an explosive situation and TPLF could drag Ethiopia towards civil war.
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