BY I. HABTE
Fuddled with the mentality that “the people of Tigrai alone paid a heavy price in the fight against the Dergue,” the old guards of the TPLF kept a tight rein on the country’s politics, economics, military, and security for the past 27 years.
The one-party political hegemony, the political and financial shenanigans of the TPLF and the partition of Ethiopia on ethnic and language lines are the lead domino in the eruption of inter-ethnic conflict in the country in the past three years and has still continued to exist in some parts of the country.
The present political change in Ethiopia is, therefore, the product of the ethnic violence that took place in many parts of Ethiopia especially in Oromo and Amhara regions. The uprisings, which took a heavy toll on human lives and property, became increasingly rampant, unabated and so much so that they threatened the unity of the country.
Amidst this political chaos, the EPRDF held a three-week meeting behind closed doors and a new reformist force emerged from within the Party and set to lift the country out of a deep crisis. After marathon talks held within the party, Dr. Abiy Ahmed was elected as a new PM. His coming to power has tolled the death knell for the TPLF.
When Dr. Abiy took office as a new PM of Ethiopia, he set out to redress the past injustices and mistakes committed by previous TPLF-controlled EPRDF administration. In not more than four months, he brought about tremendous changes in the country. To name just a few, he made several trips to many parts of Ethiopia and overseas and held meetings with people and opposition parties to listen to their needs and concerns; he made great efforts to ease up ethnic tensions stirred up in many parts of the country; he granted pardon to thousands of political prisoners including prominent ones; he lifted the State of Emergency and rescinded repressive laws brought in by the TPLF to curtail political parties’ activities.
His political will to combat corruption and money-trafficking which have reached endemic levels in the country and his firm dedication to recuperate billions of dollars worth of stolen money from state coffins will, indeed, uncover the multitude and unreported sins of the TPLF leaders. The laws sometimes sleep, but never die.
On top of this, he took a bold decision by announcing the full acceptance of the Algiers Agreement and the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) ruling without a pre-condition to end the 20-year long state of war and bring a lasting peace between the two neighboring countries.
It should be noted that the new PM neither invented nor added new ideas to the Algiers Agreement and EEBC ruling. But he just breathed life into the Agreement which was left hanging in the air for 16 years to serve the TPLF’ dream. The peace deal and the reform policy have been highly commended by Ethiopians, opposition political parties, state leaders and international organizations.
When Ethiopians are on the threshold of building their country with peace, love, unity, equality and determination for the first time after decades of political instability, economic difficulties and ethnic divisions, the TPLF leaders have blocked their minds behind walls of egoism and hubris and started to sing a different tune. They have started to view the political and economic reform policy as a threat to their unbridled power which they had enjoyed it for 27 years and through which they had ruthlessly plundered the country’s wealth.
Since his coming to power, they are not at ease and as such, they are hell-bent on giving him a rough ride to impair his vision. Furthermore, they are set to decry everything he has been striving to bring a panacea to Ethiopian’s political ills.
Much to the chagrin of the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia, the old guards called an emergency meeting and issued a communiqué, with much fanfare, and rejected the Algiers Agreement and EEBC ruling on the ground that ‘the border issue does not concern Ethiopia but only the TPLF, the true owners of the conflict.’
It has become clear to all Ethiopians that the twenty-year war was not between Ethiopia and Eritrea but between the TPLF group and the Eritrean people. In this sense, the war was fought at the expense of Ethiopian human lives and economic development to satisfy the group’s political agenda.
The TPLF is still run by a bunch of old fogeys who are dead set to oppose the positive political changes in Ethiopia. Without careful thought of its impacts, it continued prattling about the peace agreement and the reform process, impervious to the effect its messages are having. It devised malicious and gratuitous campaigns against the lofty aspiration of the people and so much so that it portrayed the PM as a bitter enemy of Tigrai. It organized protests in different towns to denounce the peace agreement and to belittle the reform policy accompanied by a defamatory speech against him.
The past four months were the busiest months for the TPLF. It consistently and openly engaged in an intensive campaign to hinder the ongoing changes. To this end, it organized meetings, conferences or forums for invoking assistance from influential groups including scholars, women, student, youth, teachers associations and other sectors of the society to stand behind it no matter what its negative impact is.
What is more, it invited them to hold debates or discussions on the current situations on TV and radio to instill poisonous ideas and wrongly influence its people during which they have prated about the demarcation of the border in the filthy trades. The discussions and debates were unconnected with realities, glaringly absurd and without grains of truth.
It has also ganged up with leaders of some political parties and military mafias and started to knock at the doors, including its enemies, to get support for its utopian dream. Some “scholars and opposition parties” are dancing to the tune of the TPLF, if nothing else, to win support for their ‘political beliefs or to boost their personal image.’ However, other than a few impressionable persons, the entire population has stood against the TPLF’s flagitious acts.
The cunning and stratagems of the TPLF have been proverbial for many years. This wicked mindset has been observed by many foreigners. For example, Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, former USA Ambassador to Ethiopia describes Meles Zenawi: “… as a man thirsty for power who will cling on to power till his last breath.”
His ideas were based on ‘it’s my way or the highway’ best described by David Shinn, former Ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. “Sources close to him and his family say he had a bad temper and liked to talk by telephone with leaders even in the middle of the night.” So, if a ruler hearkens to lies, all his servants are wicked.
At the time when Ethiopians have been holding rallies in support of peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia and the reform policies across the country and abroad, the TPLF organized massive rally in Tigrai which was said to be in “support of the peace deal”, condemn ethnic-based attacks of all kinds and denounce the ‘breach of the constitution’ and so on, on 27 June, 2018, in Mekele and the next day in other towns.
It is hard to ignore the fact that the TPLF has not still recognized Dr. Abiy as a PM of Ethiopia. His photograph and name have been virtually blackout from its controlled mass media. In all rallies, his name and his reform policies had never been mentioned; the demonstrators wore Ta -shirt with Meles photos, no photo of Abiy was displayed; they were chanting slogans of ethnic-based attacks especially against Tigrians.
In the meantime they unfurled banners and carried placards that boost Tigrai identity; glorify their struggle and past history. The crowds were chanting slogans to remain strong and stay united to ‘face imminent threat against Tigrai.’
In front of tens of thousands of people gathered in the stadium, the chairperson of the TPLF made a pompous speech, which was full of insults, threats, and vainglory. He went into a tirade about the ethnic-based verbal and physical attacks against the people of Tigrai. Using harshly censorious language, he threatened Ethiopians that the two options that we [the Tigrai people] have: “either we have to live together with equality and dignity or we have to break from Ethiopia,” which implies that the TPLF has already been working towards Balkanization of Ethiopia – touch wood.
In addition, the chairperson ‘appreciated’ the peace agreement reached between the two neighboring countries and in the same breath, he rejected the EEBC ruling. With all honesty, the rally was nothing but a show of strength to demonstrate that the people of Tigrai support and stand by the TPLF.
It is true that the ethnic politics introduced by the TPLF has still aggravated the fissures in the ethnic groups and as a result, the people of Tigrai as well other Ethiopians have become victims of the constitution. So, ‘the ethnic-based hatred against the Tigrai people’ voiced during the rally was deliberately blown out of proportion just to serve the TPLF’s future evil purposes, whereas many similar incidents are still existing in many parts of the country. The constitution, for all intents and purposes, was designed to serve the interests of the TPLF only.
One of the main reasons that have caused the existing appalling situation in the country is that there is no constitution as such that defends the interests of all Ethiopians other than promoting ethnic divisions and hatred. So, the Tigrai people should put the saddle on the right horse instead of blaming simply other Ethiopians or ethnic groups for their unfortunate situation.
Currently, deep discussions and debates are going on among members of the TPLF, political parties, scholars, and others, which have already split them into two groups: the first group advocates that taking into consideration a number of undeniable realities, we can’t achieve economic development without being fully part of Ethiopia. The second argue that since we are not sure which way the wind blows, we have to give priority to and work first and foremost for the Tigrai interests only. They continued also to argue that ‘since the problems in Ethiopia do not concern Tigrai, we have to stay at a distance and closely follow, without interfering, the developments going on in the country, which signals that the ‘end of marriage’ is on the horizon. Indeed, this unyielding adherence to ‘Tigrai Republic’ is a high-wire act for the TPLF.
By any stretch of imaginations can the old guards accept the ruling of the EEBC and the reform process underway in Ethiopia. Though unlikely, they will keep looking for every possible chance available to turn the tables on the new PM.
Furthermore, using their former influence, strong ties with security and police agents and other groups, they will spare no efforts to bring chaos and upset peace and order in Ethiopia (for example the present instability in Somali region) by instigating protests, killings, riots and stirring up street politics, to say the least.
Finally, holding all the aces of Ethiopia enabled the nefarious group of the TPLF to feather their nest quite comfortably. In addition to this, they are now attempting to destabilize Ethiopia by sponsoring and financing violence in many parts of the country to create another Yugoslavia in the Horn of Africa.
Not only this. They have betrayed and thrown their own people including martyrs families into poverty, to say nothing of the drought currently affecting almost a million of the population. Therefore, it is high time for the people to tell their leaders: fool me once shame on you; fool me twice shame on me. And only then can the people of Tigrai live in peace and harmony with the rest of Ethiopians and shake off poverty once and for all.