Brief Illustrative Summary of Efforts to Reconcile with TPLF
After taking office on April 2, 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed emphasized the need for the Tigray region and its leadership to continue to focus on peace and development, and extended a hand to TPLF to work together in this endeavor in a spirit of love, forgiveness and unity. He has been very consistent in informing the general public that TPLF was just a political party and must not be mistaken for the people of Tigray.
On several occasions, he called upon the TPLF leadership to cease its destabilizing conducts and to become a force of peace and development. The following illustrative actions demonstrate the patient effort and determination with which the government tried to accommodate TPLF as a potential partner in development and peace.
The Prime Minister’s trip to Mekelle and discussion with community representatives was one of the first such visits held by the Prime Minister in his effort to have a series of dialogue with fellow citizens.
The Prime Minister reiterated his firm conviction that the Federal Government will collaborate with the regional government to address the grievances and needs of the people in the region. He called upon the people of Tigray to focus on peace and development, and the TPLF, to harness all its energy and of the people with a singular focus of eradicating poverty. He encouraged the residents of the region to nurture their relations with neighboring regions to ensure lasting peace.
Prime Minister met with his Cabinet for the first time to endorse a decision that protects the benefits of retired senior leadership including those from TPLF.
In the very first Council of Ministers meeting chaired by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the Cabinet endorsed a decision to ensure that all the benefits and privileges of the senior leadership –including that TPLF leadership- enjoyed while in office will continue to be in place even after retirement.
Set up of commissions to independently address long standing grievances thwarted by TPLF.
He called for the establishment of a National Reconciliation Commission to resolve simmering differences of national significance and to ascertain truth and justice deploying the rich social capital and legal history the country has.
The establishing proclamation commits the commission to seek “truth and justice,” and provide a forum for victims to be heard and perpetrators to disclose, all directed by an independent institution committed to seeking truth to prevent the future occurrence of such conflict.
At the time, the Prime Minister reiterated that members of the commission should carry out their duties in a manner that is impartial and objective. The Prime Minister promised that the government will not to interfere in the work of the Reconciliation Commission.
Similarly, he formed an Administrative Boundaries and Identity Issues Commission to seek a neutral, highly professional and peaceful solution to these problems since conflicts relating to administrative boundaries are a cause of great instability in the country.
These efforts to achieve lasting peace, while lauded by a majority of Ethiopians, were however openly opposed by the TPLF, publicly stating that they would not accept the request.
Ministry of Peace travels to Mekelle to engage TPLF
Officials from the Ministry of Peace traveled to Mekelle with invitations to engage with the administration in constructive dialogue on the future of our nation. Their effort was once again rejected.
Discussion with the Axum residents,
The Prime Minister visited and witnessed the condition of the Axum obelisk and disclosed to the community that he held talks with the Italian government regarding the protection and renovation of the monuments.
In a town hall discussion where Debretsion Gebremichael co-presided, the Prime Minister addressed key queries raised regarding budgetary allocations, water shortages, infrastructure requirements, peace and security and other issues.
He called upon the people to work together for peace and stability in the region. He also encouraged TPLF to address local needs and work for peace.
The Prime Minister advised the TPLF and its supporters to use the reform as an opportunity to work together, and to refrain from improper and destructive actions for the sake of narrow political gain.
In his response to questions from the House of People’s Representatives, the Prime Minister explained that the reform pertains to reform of a political party and not of the constitutional order. Nowhere in the process has there been an attempt to re-introduce the centralized and unitary state as the political structure of Ethiopia. He also expressed his belief that there is no alternative to federal system that accommodates our diversity.
Although there was an ample video evidence that showed that TPLF had discussed the need for the merger of EPRDF prior to the change in leadership and actively worked towards it, TPLF began to publicly resist and label the Prime Minister’s effort to create a revitalized party for the new era as ‘unitarist’ once Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed resumed the process towards EPRDF’s party merger.
Independent peace ambassadors plead with TPLF,
A group of peace ambassadors called “Mothers for Peace” traveled to Mekelle to plead the officials of the Regional Administration for peace. Their call was unheeded.
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he Prime Minister urged the Tigray Government to abide by the decision of the House of Federation and protect the Tigray people from COVID-19.
The TPLF announced, in a blatant violation of the FDRE Constitution, that the party does not recognize as legitimate the decision of the House of Peoples’ Representatives and the House of Federation to postpone the national election due to COVID-19.
Following that, the Prime Minister urged the Tigray government to abide by the law and the decision of the two Houses and refrain from hosting a sham election that will endanger the constitutional order.
Eventually, TPLF claimed to have adopted its own electoral law and established its own electoral commission, and orchestrated a sham and illegal election in which it won all the seats in the Regional Council.
A group that consists of 50 of the country’s most senior religious and community elders and representatives went to Mekelle.
The group held talks with the Tigray regional government and various political party leaders in Mekelle. Regrettably, these most revered community and religious leaders were rebuffed by the TPLF leadership, treating the visitors with utmost contempt and sending them back with nothing.
Dr. Debretsion GebreMichael, sent off the group stating, “where have you been until now? Now is not the time for reconciliation.” Members of the group were also insulted and humiliated by other TPLF officials.
Elders organized a dialogue platform for Prosperity Party and TPLF
The group of elders once again to tried to set up a dialogue platform between the leadership of the two parties in Addis Ababa whereupon both sides assigned party officials to engage in dialogue. However, on the same day the talks were scheduled to happen, TPLF pulled out of the talks and cancelled their appearance stating, “we don’t want to engage in dialogue with Prosperity Party.”
The Prime Minister stresses that the TPLF is just a party and should not be confused with the totality of the people of Tigray. He also stated that the government will scale up the support extended for the people of Tigray.
Responding to questions from members of the House of Peoples’ about alleged discrimination of Tigray, the Prime Minister provided evidence based on the significantly increased budgetary allocation provided to the Tigray region. He also pointed out that the government has exceptionally allocated additional spending to finalize the Mekelle water project that has been delayed for years.
He repeatedly reiterated that, “The people of Tigray are our people! The TPLF is only one party, it is not the only party represent the patriotic and peace-loving people of Tigray.”
The Prime Minister appeals to all political parties for peaceful engagement
The Prime Minister speaking on the nationwide mayhem bordering on party-sponsored terrorism, urged all political parties including TPLF, for peaceful engagement, by stating “we only have one country. We should settle our differences in roundtable discussion and in a civilized manner. In his message on current affairs, he called upon all political parties to resolve their differences amicably and through dialogue.”
Political Parties urge Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to take swift action against TPLF
During a consultation held with competing political parties, some inquired why the Federal Government is not taking swift action against the transgressions of TPLF. He replied as follows:
This is our position regarding Tigray. In Tigray region, there are forces that want to provoke conflict with the Amhara region or Eritrea or the Federal government. There are those who would want to claim that forceful measures are being taken against them and blame others.
I want to assure you that I have no desire to engage in war with the Tigray region. I am certain that the people of Tigray are tired of hearing the sounds of gunfire. I think they had enough of that. We have been facing lots of problems for the honor of Tigray people and for the sake of this belief.
Now it’s a time to choose. If we decide to go into war because we are many, we have money, the Federal Police, Police and the army . . . well, these people who only know how to have others killed, will not die. War does not choose between people, it kills the farmer, women and children.
We strongly believe that we should not kill people, that we should wait until the people understand and resolve the issue peacefully. We are repeatedly provoked to go into conflict. There is the need on their part to claim that the Federal Government has attacked them. We would not hate it if there was a way to separately target those culprits. But we do not want to make the people victims of conflict. Because of that, we are patient.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reiterates no intention of engaging in conflict with TPLF
In a one-on-one exclusive interview in which Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was asked about TPLF’s increasing belligerence and potential armed confrontation, Prime Minister Abiy responded: “I don’t think war is necessary for Ethiopia. I don’t want to be considered as one of those who support war. What I want is to send masks to Tigray for Corona – not to send bullets. I want to send a tablet and not a bullet. I want to dig a water well. I believe that it needs to change with development. The people of Tigray are our people. We do not want to take any action to the detriment of our people and leave regrets for tomorrow.”
TPLF rejects peace by withdrawing its representatives from Parliament
TPLF openly declared that they will not comply with laws, directives, and regulations, among others, to be enacted by the federal government after October 05/2020. TPLF recalled all representatives from Tigray in the Federal House of Peoples’ Representatives and the House of Federation after October 05 on grounds that the Region would not recognize any of the federal state organs.
TPLF launch an attack on the Northern Command of the Ethiopian National Defense Force. A week later, TPLF member publicly admits to the ‘preemptive’ strikes it launched against the National Defense Force.