Ethiopians continue to express resentment over Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s decision to release Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) leaders who were captured on the field in Tigray January 2021.
The latest expression of disapproval came from networked civic Ethiopian organisations outside of the country like Worldwide Ethiopian Civic Associations . It called the Prime Minister’s move as “inexplicable and confounding measures.”
There has even been a speculation that his decision was likely to be informed by western powers intervention. In fact, soon after the release of TPLF leaders, US president Joe Biden spoke to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed which the latter called “candid,” conversation. And this past weekend, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudea, did the same. For Abiy, Justin Trudeau is an “all weather friend.”
Unlike what Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed revealed about the conversation, he always likes to paint them as positive ones focusing on discussion on bilateral matters.
Readout on Joe Biden’s phone conversation with Abiy, which was published by the White House on January 10, seems to suggest that the U.S. continued to pressure Abiy Ahmed’s government for a negotiated ceasefire with the TPLF. In fact, it was hinted that the U.S. was pushing for the Ethiopian government to order Ethiopian troops not to advance to the Tigray region of Ethiopia after clearing TPLF forces from most of the areas in Afar and Amhara regions in late December 2021.
There is a possibility that the U.S. government purposely released the information with a motive to broaden the difference between Abiy Ahmed and Ethiopians who supported him for the sake reversing existential threat that TPLF posed on Ethiopia by coordinating with internal and external enemies ( internal enemies are most of the time tools for external once and their political demands do not seem to be home grown ones based on historical and political realities.)
It is also possible that PM Abiy perhaps succumbed to foreign pressure. But he still talks differently. In a dinner function organised for visiting diaspora Ethiopians, at the Grand Palace, he said that there was no intervention that resulted in the release of the TPLF prisoners.
He made claims that every decision that his government makes is based on three key principles : sovereignty of Ethiopia, national interest and the dignity of Ethiopia. He spoke as if his government will not accept anything, in its diplomatic and political dealings with “donor countries” , if any one of those items are missing.
For now, members of the diaspora who were attending the dinner function seem to have clapped for his explanation. Deep inside, the feeling towards Abiy Ahmed will not be, it seems, the same again. He has lost significant public trust. The Diaspora Ethiopian Community was mobilized to visit Ethiopia as part a strategy to resist pressure from western countries.
Abiy is unquestionably pro-west as demonstrated occasionally. A significant part of his team has worked with or worked for this or that western government directly or indirectly, and in different capacities. It remains to be seen if the western powers will not impose their economic and cultural interest on Ethiopia one after the other. Some of the country’s key national assets are sold despite some notable economists in the country opposing the ‘privatisation’ measures. Others are in the process of being “privatised.”
Culturally ( and religiously) some key institutions in the country are under unprecedented pressure from a political class who do possess legal and administrative power to make changes.
Abiy plays it differently. And now he started to say “trust me my decision is in the best interest of the country.”
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