Elders intervene to mediate Abiy gov’t, de facto state in the north

Religious leaders to head to Mekelle, north Ethiopia, as part of effort to mediate TPLF and Federal government

Ethiopian Interfaith Council leaders. Photo credit : DW Amharic (resized)

June 15, 2020

Apart from external challenges that mainly emanates from Egypt’s position to continue to monopolize the Nile water by maintaining a colonial-era water resource arrangement agreement, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPFL) has been standing between Abiy Ahmed’s administration and his reform measures.

Tigray in North Ethiopia is not intact by any means. Yet, no reform measures have been implemented in the region. For leaders governing it at the moment resistance to the reform is the cause.

The trend jeopardized the Federal government’s duty to enforce the rule of law.  The latest string of confrontation is over the sixth general election which the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) canceled due to the coronavirus situation in the country.

The upper and lower houses of the government established a legal procedure to “constitutionally” extend the election. The Upper house decided for election to take place anywhere between 9 to 12 months once the Coronavirus is declared to be no more a public health emergency. The terms of the Federal and regional house of representatives are temporarily extended after September 2020 which was supposedly the end of the terms.

On the other hand, Tigray regional state council took a different path but in the direction of the resistance to the reform measures. It endorsed executive and central committee members’ decision to go ahead with an election in the region – a decision which is against the National Electoral Board and the Federal government of Ethiopia.

There has been a rumor that TPLF leaders wanted a face-saving u-turn from their decision to conduct an election in the region.  They wanted a mediator to be sent to them. It is not established if that is really the case.

However, it is not confirmed that religious leaders from Ethiopia’s Inter-Faith Council have started an effort to mediate Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and TPLF leaders who are now based in Mekelle after they lost dominance in Federal government power.  Public Relations head of the council, Hadji Mesud Adem, is cited as saying that the situation in Ethiopia requires intervention from mediators.

According to Deutsche Welle Radio Amharic service, senior leaders in Tigray regional state have nodded to the mediation effort via the Ethiopian Interfaith Council, and they have agreed to attend discussions.

It is also confirmed that the religious leaders will be heading to Mekelle, Tigray, for the mediation although it is undisclosed as to when they are traveling north.

No speculation at his point as to what TPLF regional state in the north would demand in return for accepting the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia’s decision and the House of Federation decision.

In a way, traditional mediation has become customary, since Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in April 2018, wherever the rule of law is endangered. Based on experience in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, mediation with radical forces did not work, and the government is engaging militarily armed ethnic nationalist groups in the region.

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