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Ethiopia: No military action against Tigray regional state

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed says there will be no military action against Tigray regional state, calls for support for Debretsion.

Tigray _ military
Debretsion Gebremicael with Isaias Afeworki (photo : OPM/file)

July 29, 2020

Tigray regional state has been acting as a de facto state essentially since a little after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took over power in April 2018. From defying Federal court order to hand over criminals who had been dominant in the Federal government for over a quarter-century to federal government policies – Tigray authorities have clearly demonstrated a regional power that has not enshrined the country’s constitution to which they relate themselves as an ardent defender.

The existence of the party that governs the region Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has evolved much like an opposition party. Yet, it is part of the government. When members and support parties of the former ruling coalition, EPRDF coalition, merged to form a single united national party (Prosperity Party), the former master parted ways outlining ideological difference, among others. An attempt was made to mobilize “Federalist Forces” to challenge the Federal government which is under the PP party. Before making much progress in that direction, the Federalist Coalition, which was meant to “rescue” the constitution and the “federal form of government,” dismissed TPLF from membership.

The latest string of confrontation with the Federal government was over the sixth general election. The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) said in April of this year that it cannot go ahead with the scheduled election in August 2020 as the Coronavirus epidemic offset activities essential for the election. The Ethiopian parliament was convinced with NEBE explanation but postponing the election was in a collision course with the Constitution.  

In an effort to resolve a constitutional limbo, the parliament (and the House of Federation) decided to refer the matter to a constitutional inquiry commission to have four articles of the constitution interpreted to extend the election date. The result was that the House of the federation extended the election until nine to twelve months after a relevant authority declared the Coronavirus is no longer a threat to the country.

But the decision was not acceptable to TPLF. It decided to organize its own election in the region which the NEBE declined to recognize.

Theoretically, the Federal government is faced with enforcing the rule of law and defending the constitution. In fact, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed himself spoke out saying no other entity in the country could organize an election.  However, the Tigray regional state continued to defy and proceeded with it.

There was anticipation that the Federal government’s move to enforce Federal laws in the region could cause a military conflict. And it appeared that there was a great deal of interest in it on the part of Tigray regional authorities as they have deepened mobilization for it.  Abiy Ahmed’s last visit to Asmara was taken among leaders in the region as something that signals impending military action.

This week the prime minister had an interview, in Tigrigna, with Fana Broadcasting Tigrigna service.  Apparently, the PM minister deliberately made the interview in Tigrigna language to engage people in the Tigray region. The key message was that there will be no military action against the Tigray region despite the challenges that TPLF is posing on the Federal government in terms of enforcing the rule of law. From the interview, it is clear that the PM aimed at de-escalating the tension with Tigray regional government which a considerable number of Ethiopians consider as, rightly, a good decision.

“There will be no Ethiopian politics that excludes the people of Tigray…The people of Tigray have been playing an irreplaceable role since the formation of Ethiopia and are still playing a part,” he said.

His interview, which came at a time when the Tigray region sent a mediation team under the leadership of Addis Alem Balema, portrayed divergence forces within TPLF. For him, the region’s president (and chairman of TPLF) Debretsion Gebremichael is cooperative and wants to work with the Federal government. The other one is a force that is mobilizing for war. He called on people in Tigray to support Debretsion Gebremichael.

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  1. ” there will no military action in tigrai”

    What a joke, you dont have the guts, who’ s sons and daughters are you going to send, for sure it ain”t going to be your neftagna brothers and sisters, they are good behind tthe keyboards but not on the battle field. Oromo’s aint going to support you, they will rather die in the mediterranean sea.
    To the people of tigrai dont be fooled, Olive leaf will handed to you symbolizing peace and then you will be decimated just like oromos. Fortunately you were smart enough to keep machinery to deter enemies.
    I never thought i will say this but many of us are glad you did.


    • Neftegna was so good on the battlefield that it protected the country from all foreign invaders. Never forget that. Turks, Egypt, Italy, Sudan, I can go on. Never confuse the current silence with fear or doubt.

  2. Absolutely no need for war this time….that will help only the TPLF.
    I had written before about list of actions the federal government can/should take to deal with the outlaw TPLF, and would not want to repeat those steps at this time. But there is one addition recommendation which I did not mention previously that has to do with breaking the economic backbone of TPLF called EFFORT.

    EFFORT was built by stealing, just like the parent TPLF. Apparently, it borrowed huge amount from the banking system, particularly the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the Development Bank of Ethiopia, which loans were written off by the then Tigrian management staff recruited and appointed by TPLF I do not know the exact amount of loans that were written off, but understand in billions of Birr.

    The federal government should now demand that all loans previously extended to EFFORT, whether written of or active, should be repaid with interest. The loans that are still active but where they are not in default, can continue as long ss the borrower is in compliance of loan conditions. But previous loans that were written off must be repaid with interest; if not assets of the organization should be repossessed starting right now.

  3. Tigrayans in Mekele , Adigrat , Wolqait Tegede and Raya are preparing to show their discontent by bringing their own cards from home which is written with a verse “I voted for National Movement of Amara” feared will get TPLF act violently against the Tigrayan people .

  4. A thorough legal action need to be taken first. Skipping legal action and jumping to sanctions or other form of military action makes the federal government a tyrant.

  5. Looking at the photo above it reminds me the choice of World Meteorological Organization to name the current hurricane after the President of our dear neighbor Eritrea. I found that befitting considering his Excellency’s current valuable effort to stabilize the whole Horn of Africa. I take Hurricane Isaias as a very valuable Partner For Peace. Right on brother, Right on!!!

  6. Dagim

    So where was the “so good neftagna” for last 27 years when tplf was marginalizing everyone else.

    Menelik used poor oromos
    Hailesilase used poor oromos
    Tplf used thousands of oromoa to fight Eritrea in 1998 – 2000.

    It took oromo youth to throw sticks and stone to enjoy your freedom right now.

    • Oromo didn’t appear in Ethiopian history until 16c. And when they did fight in the wars, they weren’t used like you say.

      They fought for their respective leaders with pride. If there is a war between Wello and Shoa, the people would fight for that province ( Amhara, Oromo, etc, within each province). The states were multi ethnic unlike those of today.

      Don’t try to take credit with a new ethnicity label that just came about.

    • Genji,
      In the last 27 years, it was young Oromos who were imprisoned in huge numbers by TPLF compared to other ethnics. So it makes sense for them to revolt first.


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