Tigray was deliberately targeted for an attack and have developed sentiment for secession from Ethiopia. Opposition leaders in Tigray on the other hand accuse TPLF of weakening Ethiopia and propagating secession agenda as a political playing card
June 12, 2019
In an interview with The Ethiopian Reporter, a private local newspaper, Debrestion says “The people of Tigray have developed a sentiment for secession [from Ethiopia] due to deliberate ethnic attack targeting Tigray.”
His remark came two days after hosting Abiy Ahmed in Aksum, where he and the prime minister held a meeting with community members regarding the deteriorating condition of the Ancient Obelisk.
In a country where the government is talking about unity, Debretsion continued, mounting tendencies that affect unity and deliberate “attack against the people of Tigray” is pushing the people to the point of losing confidence in the idea of living in the system and rather demonstrating sentiment of secession.
“It is us [a reference to his party, Tigray People’s Liberation Front and leaders] who are engaging the people to push the idea that we can struggle together from within. Otherwise, people are thinking about secession… an open deliberate attack in opened on the people of Tigray. A campaign you can not expect from your government” said Debretsion.
One of the issues with which he substantiated his “targeted attack against Tigreans” assertion is laid off ethnic Tigreans from medium and low-level government positions in the Federal government. He claims they are laid off not because of lack of capacity but because of their ethnic identity.
He also said that there was an attempt to starve people in Tigray by closing highway to Tigray and authorities in the neighboring Amhara region and the Federal government knew about it. He, in fact, went to the extent of claiming “seemingly the Federal and regional authorities recognized the closure.” He added, “That was an attack on the people of Tigray and the government is responsible for it.”
In his answer regarding the issue of former spy chief, Getachew Assefa, he said anyone who is at “fault” need to be held accountable. While he says he supports any legal measure if there are any individuals in the government structure but that he found “allegation against Getachew Assefa is shameful in the world.” For him, it is a serious issue and former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne could be questioned if Getachew Assefa, his comrade during the 17-year guerrilla war against Colonel Mengistu as well, is questioned. And he said that intelligence workers who are in prison need to be released.
Members of an opposition party in Tigray, however, accuse TPLF leaders including Debretsion that the organization has been working to create a sense of secession in Tigray and to weaken Ethiopia. Abraha Desta, leader of Arena Tigray – an ethnic Tigray opposition party – in a Facebook post says that TPLF worked on secessionist sentiment in Tigray so as to enhance TPLF’s importance as bargaining power. He did not, however, say that there is no sense of secession in Tigray.
Amdom Gebreslasie, also Arena Party official, too, criticized Debretsion’s statement. “The people of Tigray will not raise the secession agenda for the sake of one criminal family,” he said and went on to quote what he says an elder person in Aksum said, “Ethiopia belongs to Tigray and Tigray belongs to Ethiopia.”
Debretsion’s party , TPLF, is a pioneer, champion and defender of Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution which granted ethnically instituted federal regions right to self-determination up to and including secession.