Ethiopia: TPLF-Abiy Ahmed meeting ended in vain

TPLF intends to form a “defacto state” state if the Federal government is postponing Ethiopia’s general election in 2020.

TPLF _ Ethiopia _ Abiy Ahmed
Abiy Ahmed (left) , Debretsion Gebremichael (right)

November 19, 2019

As reported last Saturday, six members of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) voted against the merger of organizations and parties under the umbrella of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition during the executive committee meeting which lasted for three days.

Now details emerge that TPLF did not attend the executive committee meeting on Sunday, according to a report by BBC Amharic service on Tuesday. Logically, since the meeting after Sunday discussed party program and bylaws of the new party to be formed with the brand prosperity party, continuing to attend the meeting appears to have no relevance for TPLF.

However, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and TPLF executive committee members met separately on Sunday, BBC Amharic reported citing Asmelash Woldeselassie, one of TPLF’s executive committee members, as a source. It is, however, unclear as to who initiated the meeting.

What is known about the meeting is that the agenda was the difference between TPLF, on the issue of merger, and the rest of the coalition members of EPRDF that TPLF used to dominate for nearly three decades.  Abiy Ahmed, was apparently going extra-mile to see if he can convince them to continue to work with their former colleagues. And as it turns out, no agreement was reached, as reported by BBC Amharic which cited what it called sources close to the party.

Except one member of TPLF executive who returned to Mekele, seven members of TPLF have attended the separate meeting with Abiy Ahmed.

Although it is known that TPLF was no vocal opposition in the past regarding merger in the party, it has now emerged as a party that opposes the merger. It sees the merger as a danger to the unity of Ethiopia and also as a betrayal of revolutionary democracy ideology.

Paradoxically, TPLF also the effort to merge member parties of Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) as an “effort to create a unitary form of government and an effort to maintain a hold on power.”

Those who support the merger, this includes five  parties who were considered as “support parties” with no voting privileges in the decision making process of the coalition, do not see it as a threat to the Federal system in Ethiopia. They rather see it as an important step to ensure equal participation based on multi-cultural federal system.  They also see the proposed merger, which is essentially completed, as relevant to give what Abiy Ahmed’s administration calls “change.” 

The process of merging the parties is almost completed. PM Abiy Ahmed conveyed a message in three languages on Monday soon after the completion of the executive committee meeting in which he said “he was very happy that the meeting brought the committee members closer together.” The party program and bylaws are drafted and sent to the party council for approval. It seems Abiy Ahmed is certain that it will get approved.

Meanwhile, 43rd year Number 2 edition of TPLF party newspaper, Woyne, had an extensive coverage about plan of actions if the next general election is extended. If the Federal election is postponed, Tigray could have its own election in order to avert what it called “legitimacy crisis”, as reported by VOA Amharic.  The party newspaper also thought in terms of forming a “Defector State” – something that opposition parties operating in Tigray, like Arena Tigray, opposed.

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