TPLF’s Dangerous Game: Changing the Narrative

By Addissu Admas
December 16,2018

There has been a rising discontent, nay escalating anger in Tigray towards PM Abiy and his government (and even perhaps towards the rest of Ethiopians) since he started going after the most corrupt, power abusing, and cruel officials of the TPLF. A fact that has instead been welcomed by the rest of Ethiopians with elation and jubilation.

Judging from the highly censored news we get from Tigray, this should neither surprise nor shock us. The Woyane propaganda machine, honed through decades of practice, is now being used to spin a narrative that is simply aimed at ensuring its own survival, and not addressing the true grievances of the Tigrean people. And it is doing this with a cynicism rarely seen in our country, or even in Africa. Instead of asking and answering why its rotten and truculent members are being charged and brought to justice, it is reframing the whole affair as organized persecution of the Tigrean people. Instead of addressing the question why it failed miserably in lifting up the nation out of poverty and instituting democracy, it is more than ever eager to point its accusative finger towards the PM and his reformist agenda. Instead of kneeling down in front of the Tigrean people and all of Ethiopians to ask for forgiveness and leniency for all the abuses and cruelty it has perpetrated, it continues to brag about its illusory successes. Not only this, but against all decency and sense of fair play, it is defying the same rules and laws of governance it has put in place to delegitimize the Prime Minister and his government. What is even more galling is the fact that it has fallen so deep that it has reduced the whole trial on corruption and abuse as a matter of “us vs them” discourse. This, I need not say it, bodes only trouble for Ethiopia.

That the Woyane ruling cadre has come down to “tribalizing” or “ethnicizing” Dr. Abiy’s anti-corruption and anti-power abuse campaign is neither odd nor surprising. And it is not even unexpected. A cynical party such as the TPLF would have eventually used the “ethnic” card to wiggle out of the predicament it has found itself in. And in fact it has never been in such a tight spot since it came to power. Its Machiavellian nature has never been as alive as now; all for the sole purpose of ensuring itself a few more years of power in Tigray.

What our fellow citizens of Tigray must never accept is that this is not a question of “us vs them”. It is simply the wheel of justice coming full circle. In fact, more than anyone in Ethiopia, the Tigrean people have suffered the brunt of Woyane’s authoritarian rule. And they more than any other ethnicity in Ethiopia must seek its rapid demise.

It is unseemly and shameful to accuse the current administration, or worse the rest of the Ethiopian people, of tribalism and particularism at this juncture when the Woyane regime has not done anything but pursue the most tribalist policies and practices for nearly three decades. Let us all of be clear on one undeniable fact: if there are now more members of the TPLF than the other coalition partners’ charged for various crimes, or under investigation, it is because they, more than any of the other members of the other parties, have occupied the highest echelons of power in far greater number, until the advent of the current government of PM Abiy.

It is equally disingenuous, not to say cynical, that after pursuing the hegemony of the TPLF and the people it represents – with great success I should add – to go on and portray the Tigrean people as the sole victims. The truth is, and the Woyanes know it all too well, all Ethiopians have been victimized through the entire duration of their regime. What they don’t want is to stand trial for their nefarious and vicious deeds.

It has been only a mere eight months since the tides have turned against them, and yet instead of seeking the good of all the Ethiopian peoples, the Woyanes are inciting revolt and mutiny. We should say to them: “Shame on you for inciting the people you represent, when you are in fact the one on trial. You are inciting the people of Tigray so that they provide you shelter against the march of justice”. What they are doing today can only be seen as the epitome of cowardice.

Let the truth be announced from the rooftops, let the chips fall where they may, let justice be done with rectitude and integrity. That is what every Ethiopian is clamoring now. The TPLF is instead beating the drums of war to avoid justice. Our fellow citizens in Tigray should not succumb to TPLF’s manipulation and narrative, they must instead join all their Ethiopian fellow citizens in seeking justice for our country. The Tigrean people have known from time immemorial that their future is with Ethiopia. In fact, could there really be an Ethiopia without its most ancient member? The new narrative, as well as the pre-EPRDF narrative of the TPLF wants a separate, independent and autonomous Tigray. I am more than ever convinced that the majority of the Tigrean people have never really embraced this idea. They instead have always prided themselves as being the original Ethiopians. It is the TPLF which has tried to sell them the newfangled idea of a separate and independent Tigray. The majority of the people never embraced this idea.

What everyone wants to see for all Tigray is the liberalization of the political discourse which has been tightly controlled by the TPLF since even before the fall of the Derg; to give them the same kind of freedoms enjoyed today by the rest of Ethiopians. Let us see if the Woyanes have embraced finally democracy! What we have seen so far instead is the implementation of the same authoritarian stratagems: silencing dissenting voices, massive rallies in support of the narrative concocted by the central committee, intimidation of journalists, curtailing the flow of information, and God knows what else!

There is an uncomfortable truth that every fair minded Tigrean citizen must face today, but face he/she must, and that is Ethiopia has been ruled by a most tribalist of regimes Ethiopia has ever known, which has not only trampled the rights of all Ethiopians, has not only pursued a politics of “divide and rule”, but has never subscribed to the idea of fair proportional representation of all Ethiopia’s ethnicities in the bureaucracy, in the higher ranks of the military and security. Has sought brazenly the promotion of the members of its own ethnic group to the highest positions in the land over more qualified individuals of other ethnicities. And has sought in general the advantage of its own ethnic members in every domain it controlled. Even though this has caused undeniably tremendous resentment among members of other ethnic groups, it is not at all the reason why the dozens of TPLF officials have now been discharged, charged or under investigation. They are in the position they are in today simply because they have, in overwhelming number, occupied most of the top positions, and have horrendously abused their power and influence, as well as perpetrated unspeakable cruelty towards their own fellow Ethiopians. This indeed should be the narrative that should be etched in the minds of our fellow citizens of Tigray if they remain committed to the idea of a united, democratic, peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia.
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