Tens of thousands of residents of Mekele, Tigray regional state seat, took to the city stadium to call express support for “peace effort between Ethiopia and Eritrea.”The rally started at 6:00 a.m. local time and was completed by 10:00 a.m.
“Stop ethnic-based violence,” “We will finish the renaissance dam started by Engineer Simegnew Bekele” are some of the slogans that the protested shouted.
A video footage from the rally shows protesters carrying Somali Regional state, Ethiopian government flag, TPLF flag and Eritrean government flag, among others.
The protesters called for “respect for the constitution.” There have been complaints that a flag not recognized by the constitution has been used during pro-Abiy rally at Bahir Dar and elsewhere in the country. There has also been opposition from Tigray region to the release of political prisoners who were projected through government propaganda to be “terrorists.”
In his second appearance to the Ethiopian parliament as Prime minister, Abiy Ahmed expressed his view that it was rather the government that has been violating the constitution especially in the areas of human rights. His government introduced numerous reform measures including removing prison authorities on grounds of malpractices and violation of the constitution.
“The people of Tigray and TPLF fought along with Eritrea in same battle fronts against common enemy…and that the people of Tigray is ready to meet with brotherly people of Eritrea,” said Debrestion Gebremichael, vice president of Tigray regional state and chairman of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in his speech to the crowd at Mekelle Stadium. He also raised the importance of creating a forum for the people of Tigray and Afar to meet with Eritreans.
There has been opposition voice from Tigray region, as reported by BBC Amharic service, in relation to the agreement with Eritrea on alleged grounds that “Eritrea has violated the peace agreement long time ago.” Minority communities in northern Tigray, Irob, were opposing implementation of the Algiers peace agreement on grounds that it will divide their small community members into two.
In what seem to be allusion to “respect the constitution” mantra, Debretison,wearing a hat with a portrait of the late Meles Zenawi, added that “Either we live together in respect or dismantle Ethiopia”, as translated by Eritrean Press, and he was reportedly cheered for it by the crowd. The source, Eritrean press, understood Debretsion’s speech to be reintroduction of secession agenda ; “TPLF has reintroduced the 1976 independence manifesto to the people of Ethiopia”
Debrestion also condemned the killing of the Grand Renaissance Dam engineer, Simegnew Bekele.
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