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De facto state in North Ethiopia facing popular protest

De facto _ state _ Tigray

May 26, 2020

Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has been running Tigray regional state, in north Ethiopia, much like a de facto state. In the latest string of confrontation with the Federal government, it announced that it will run elections on its own – against the decision of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE). Coronavirus situation has made the scheduled election impossible to take place, argued the latter and the Ethiopian parliament has accepted it by majority vote. However, TPLF explains its intended action as one that is pursued in the defense of the Ethiopian Constitution. Furthermore, it said that it does not want to stay in power without an election. 

Against the backdrop of those circumstances, a series of protests this week transpired in several areas of the Tigray region. But the main centers of resistance were Wajerat and Asgede districts. In January 2020, there were similar protests in Hintalo and Adi Nebri areas. 

The immediate causes of the protests are linked to grievances related to administrative arrangements, according to a report by the DW Amharic report on Tuesday. There are 34 districts in the region and authorities are working to raise the number to 57. The new arrangement is believed to bring about opportunities in terms of infrastructure development and employment opportunities to residents. However, the way TPLF authorities are going about it has caused disenchantment in some parts of the region.

Residents of Asgede district have blocked the road leading to the Shire. It has been blocked since Sunday.  Similarly, residents of Wajirat district took to the street, despite the coronavirus situation and the state of emergency legislation in the region, to protest an alleged relocation of the district’s center to another area. DW Amharic said it contacted the authorities in the above-mentioned districts but declined to respond to the phone call.

Tigray regional denied that there was a protest in the region. In a statement issued on Monday, the Communications Affairs Bureau accused state-owned media outlets (like Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation and Fana Broadcasting Corporation, among others) and private media outlets of what it called “dissemination of unfounded,” information about protests in Tigray region. “Media that breathe with the same lung,” the statement called those media outlets.

“The truth is,” the statement said further, “there is no protest or security incident in any parts of the Tigray region.” It also called on the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority to investigate and take measures on state-owned and private media outlets that covered what it called “false news” about protests in Tigray.  Federal authorities have not yet responded to the statement from the Tigray region.

Images purportedly showing protests in different parts of the Tigray region have been circulating on social media like Facebook and Twitter.  Many describe the protests as part of a new youth movement, in the region, known as “Fenkel” – a Tigrigna and Amharic word that could translate to “uproot.”

Tigray Branch of Prosperity Party has confirmed that there were demonstrations in Wajirat and Asgede. The party vowed that TPLF will not have power in the region after September 2020.

Critics say the party that is governing the region has a recorded history of repression when it was dominating the Federal power. Last week, two young men were shot dead in Mekelle over the alleged violation of Coronavirus state of emergency measures in the region.

Meanwhile, the National Movement of Amhara (NaMA) said, in a statement released on May 26 that it supports the “struggle of the people of Tigray for Freedom and Equality.”

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  1. If Tigrai considers itself a de facto independent state, then why should the Ethiopian people still consider it part of the nation? Why should the Ethiopian people keep subsidizing the state through budgetary allocation? Why should infrastructure built by Ethiopia (telephone, electricity, etc) keep supporting the ‘de facto state’? Time for Ethiopia pose and analyze how to get rid of the long standing leech on Ethiopia called Tigrai?

    I understand why the Ethiopian government can not pull itself out of Tigrai. But the Ethiopian people can do it by: (a) blocking all surface transportation to/from Tigrai (are you listening the youth of Gondar, Wello, Afar, and others bordering Tigrai?), (b) putting pressure on the federal government to stop funding Tigrai (all institutions, including universities), (c) cutting off electricity transmission lines to Tigrai, (d) identifying properties owned by Tigrains principally in Addis Abeba that were bought/built using freely ill gotten money when TPLF was ruling the country so local governments can take compensatory actions, (e) putting pressure on the federal government to stop flow of foreign exchange to Tigrai to choke off imports from going to Tigrai such as fuel, raw materials, consumer goods, cars, etc, (f) agitating to remind local governments to hire non-Tigrians since non-Tigrains have no employment opportunities in Tigrai. There could be other remedial counter measures Ethiopians can take to encourage the ‘de facto state’ to make it official. I want to see them out of Ethiopia. This would also be an opportunity for Eritrea to revenge against Tigrains for deporting them from Ethiopia penniless, and for other miseries Tigrians inflicted on them under the auspices of Ethiopian government. Part of that could be by reclaiming the border areas taken from Eritrea.

    • So-called Fenkel can be the final death coffin to TPLF if it actually materializes. It is true they have been nothing but leeches to Ethiopia. But let us not be quick to consider ourselves “true Ethiopians” and label Tigrayans as non-Ethiopian. After all, our civilization started in Axum. Even Eritreans could have gladly stayed under an Ethiopian identity until the Amharic speaking royalty started forcing themselves on them. After all the sacrifices made by Amhara to preserve Ethiopia, they are also to blame for being too chauvinistic.

  2. The report by Burkena is unbalanced as it is partly skewed to favour the splintet group so called Fenkel. The truth is that there were only two non political protests at two localities related to administrative matters. However, since Fenkel is an amorphous group created by the PP ruling party, all government media TV channels and so on broadcasting as usual fake stories to smear the ruling party in Tigray. Unfortunately this is Africa and whoever rules and owns the media uses same as a political propaganda machine. For your information the images shown on tv supposedly to have happened in Tigray were old pictures that took place in Oromia.
    Therefore, this is to convey to Borkena to do some careful investigation and dissiminate a balanced report.

  3. Reply to Worku, try to do what you say, you will see what will happen to the rest of Ethiopia. Also most of African countries are no self sufficient budget. Ethiopia is one of them. Tigray and the rest of Ethiopia are in the same road when it comes to being poor. All are poor. Please Amharas, don’t assume the rest of Ethiopia is with you in this matter.

  4. Please, allow me first of all to greet the Congress on behalf of the Council of People’s Commissars. Never has the international position of the Mekelegrad Soviet Republic been as favorable and as triumphant as it is now. Your centuries old struggle is over!!!! On this October day I hereby proclaim the formation of people’s government by the Soviets of Mekelegrad!!! Your chain has been shattered forever!!! You have just created a Socialist Republic of Tigray and your comrades from the Soviets of Oromia, Amhara, The Colobus Monkeys, The Weasels, The Endemic Skunks and 80 other Jackass Soviets are here to join you. You are no more a de-facto but an in-facto. Down with imperialism!!! Yankees go home!!!

    That is the commencement speech by Debre while his mentor Sebhat pompously looking on!!!!

    • What a brilliant speech, comrade. You seem to know the scums who cleaned Ethiopia to her bone. Well done, and thank you!

  5. The most stable part of Ethiopia at the moment is Tigray. A much more cohesive society with a common purpose while the rest of Ethiopia is in turmoil experiencing civil war, rap, mass murder, ethnic tension, racism, mass internal displacement, assassination and mass robbery/ theft. Ethiopia started in Tigray and everything Ethiopia celebrates as unique remain what Ethiopia inherited and started from Tigray for example religion (orthodox and Islam), Ethiopian calendar, Geez alphabet, Ethiopian mathematics, philosophy, music, dress (cotton dress), traditional technology, traditional food, architecture, dynastical lines and culture and common law. With out Tigray as its part its almost impossible to call the rest of the country Ethiopia. But you can call Tigray ‘Ethiopia’ or ‘Abyssinia’ as that’s what they are as that’s their history, heritage and culture. Stop hatred and racism as it doesn’t benefit anyone. why put a wedge between Ethiopia and Amhara or Ethiopia and Oromia. Build bridges in plural society with respect and common purpose as the whole country steams from there and Tigray was and always remain Ethiopia proper.


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