“We struggled to liberate Tigray, not Ethiopia,” says Major General Teklebirhan Woldearegay

Major General Teklebirhan Woldearegay was one of the top Federal government officials during the 27 years of Tigray People’s Liberation Front dominated Federal government. Now confined to Mekelle after TPLF lost domination over federal power, he says we struggled to liberate Tigray. Our struggle was not about Ethiopia.

Tigray _ Maj. Gen. Teklebirhan Woldearegay
Maj. Gen. Teklebirhan Woldearegay during interview with Tigray Media House. Photo : screenshot from video

April 26, 2020

Major General Teklebirhan Woldearegay, former General Director of Information Network Security Agency, one of Ethiopia’s intelligence apparatus, has about a two hours interview with Tigray Media House. 

He talked about Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), what he thinks why TPLF failed, and what should be the focus now for ethnic Tigray nationalists, and the influence of regional and global state actors in Ethiopia – among other issues. 

TPLF’s manifesto in the 1970s stated the establishment of ethnic Tigray republic as the primary goal of the organization’s armed struggle. However, TPLF leaders including the late Meles Zenawi denied that they struggled to secede Tigray from the rest of Ethiopia. 

Former TPLF combatant and Director of Information Network Security Agency, Major General Teklebirhan Woldearegay, bluntly said that they struggle to liberate Tigray. 

He expressed regret that one of the political mistakes of TPLF was the formation of the EPRDF coalition which Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed dissolved to form a single united party. 

Major General Teklebirhan Woldearegay was Abiy Ahmed’s boss in the Information Network Security Agency but he fired him. “I fired him because he started to become politically active,” he said. 

Asked what he now thinks of Abiy Ahmed’s government, he said that it is “telalaki” ( which could translate as a puppet government or mercenary).

He sees what he calls imperialist interventions from the western and Gulf countries. Influence from the Gulf region is also motivated by religion, he said.  “The Chinese imperialist presence is economic but it could change to a political one in the long run,” he added.

M, General Teklebrihan is one of the few TPLF elites who was in a top Federal government position for a good part of TPLF dominated administration for 27 years. Yet, he did not shy away from expressing his deeply held hate towards Ethiopia.  He made numerous negative assertions including “there has never been a state in Ethiopia.” Prime Minister’s Abiy Ahmed’s government is a “parasite,” and that “Ethiopia as a country can not be reformed.”

The focus of Tigray Nationalists should be “to be themselves,” he argues. He meant secession from Ethiopia but again he overtly said that he does not like the “secession” label.  It is added with propaganda meaning for the pro-Ethiopian camp, he says. The least that Tigray should aim for is “confederation.”

At one point he stated that TPLF lost power because of the “gravity from Menelik era institutions was heavy.” Looking back, he said, “I now regret that I learned Amharic in elementary schools.” 

The two parts interview with Tigray Media house was in Amharic. Part I and II of it are featured below : 

Video : embedded from Tigray Media House Youtube channel
Cover photo : screenshot from video

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