Why gov’t needs to take precaution in dealing with TPLF’s de facto state

TPLF left with only war as a playing card and propaganda tool

TPLF _ Ethiopia
TPLF 45th celebration. Credit : Tigray region communication office (from facebook page)

May 12, 2020 

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has lost a considerable support base mainly because of political reasons. However, the response to the coronavirus pandemic is by and large a respectable one despite all sorts of resource constraints.

The response to the recommendation to the electoral board of Ethiopia, presuming that it is free and independent, regarding the postponement of the election was reasonably unavoidable either.

While Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) administration took all forms of Coronavirus preventions measures including banning all forms of movement between towns and countryside temporarily before any other regional administrations and even federal government, its attitude towards response measures at the Federal level of government which entailed a delay in the scheduled federal elections is unconstructive, to say the least. Note that the Federal government has already declared a five months-long state of emergency to implement preventive measures against the spread of the pandemic.

TPLF went further. It announced that it will organize an election in the Tigray region.  Legal experts in the country pointed out that TPLF does not have a constitutional ground to organize an election on its own flouting National Electoral Board of Ethiopia. T

The chairwomen of the Board appeared on the state-owned television station and explained unequivocally that it is not constitutional for TPLF to organize election at a regional level defying constitutionally instituted electoral body.

Meanwhile, Abiy Ahmed’s government traveled along existing paths to extend the election by way of seeking constitutional interpretation which the house of people’s representatives endorsed with a majority vote. In the opposition quarter, notable ones like the National Movement of Amhara, and Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party expressed consensus that the election cannot take place as planned and that the formation of a transitional government in Ethiopia is not a good option given the multifarious challenges some which could even pose threat to the sovereignty of the country. On Monday, another group of opposition which included Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) insinuated when they decided to extend the government by one year because of existing challenges.

On the contrary, TPLF, technically still part of the Ethiopian government despite the fallout with prime minister Abiy Ahmed’s government, mobilizing resources and governance structures for the election that it is intending to organize.

The Federal government has made it clear, rightly, that it will enforce the rule of law. Consequently, TPLF elites are engaged in extensive propaganda that it is facing threat from the Federal government. Opposition parties operating in the Tigray region said this week that TPLF is exploiting the state of an emergency in the country as a propaganda tool.

Needless to say, TPLF is a political organization with extensive experience of organizing political plots although often it executes them poorly. During its time as a rebel guerrilla group, it has deliberately triggered an airstrike against civilians in a small village of Hawzen.

As a government, it has plotted numerous ethno-religious violence in what many seem to believe part of the divide and rule strategy. There is no guarantee that TPLF will not organize a tragic event to stir hate in the Tigray region against the rest of Ethiopians. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government needs to act decisively – there is no question about that. But it has to act with caution!

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