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All Eyes Are on Tigray

All Eyes Are on Tigray


Mulu A



Under Prime Minister Abiy, Ethiopia’s federal government has threatened the TPLF after the party’s declaration that the region would continue holding elections. This type of baleful speech is not only unconstitutional, but can also be perceived as a declaration of war against all Tigrians in particular, and the entire nation of Ethiopia in general. Moreover, the ruling party of Tigray (TPLF) must sustain its reform and accountability agenda in order to maintain and develop its legitimacy among all Tigrians. Therefore, in addition to holding elections as scheduled, the Tigray government must commit to and carry out the following:


  1. Allow the newly appointed election commission to conduct free and fair elections;
  2. Allow the opposing candidates full access to the media outlets, meeting halls, and funds that will allow them to introduce their programs to the public;
  3. Provide all candidates, those of the opposing parties and those of the ruling party, with equal time during debates and discussion;
  4. The authority must not discourage voters from supporting the candidates of their choice, whether they stem from opposition parties or the ruling party;
  5. Public safety officers must protect the safety and wellbeing of all candidates;
  6. The government must take strong measures to weed out waste and corruption wherever it is found;
  7. Public officials must respect local customs and hold themselves to the highest ethical standards;
  8. The government must deliver services to the public in a timely manner;
  9. The priority of the government must always be the safety and wellbeing of all its citizens; and,
  10. The government must take drastic measures to address youth unemployment, including but not limited to, attracting local and foreign investors by providing investment incentives, and by reducing red tape and bureaucratic obstacles that prohibit the timely granting of business licenses and permits.


Of course, the above issues need to be discussed by the Tigray Regional Government. At the minimum, our discussion topics and then proceed to other concerns, issues and problems that must be addressed in order for the TPLF to continue its legitimacy among the people. 


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To emphasize the importance of the issues raised herein, I call your attention to an imaginary story about a small town and the people who live in it. This small town is located far away from highways and big cities. In fact, one needs to drive a couple of hours to get to the nearest city. The town has close to five hundred residents, one gas station, and one convenience store where all the residents have purchased their necessities for years. However, the vast majority of the town’s residents were unhappy with the services they were getting from this convenience store. Some customers complained about unreasonable price increases, the inconvenience and inconsistency of the store’s opening and closing hours, the selling of items after their expiration dates, and poor customer service, etc. Despite their unhappiness with the services, most of the customers did not stop going to this store simply because there were no other alternatives. Several years later, however, news circulated that a new store had opened on the other side of town. Within weeks, nearly half of the customers started going to the new store. During this transition period, as more residents from the other side of town began patronizing the new store, rumors began circulating about this new store. There was talk that the owner of the new store was the brother of the owner of the old store, and that the owner of the new store was worse than the owner of the old store. Unfortunately, slander and negative remarks continued to surround the opening of this new store. 


When customers began leaving the old store for the new store, the owner of the old store didn't take the news well. He later realized, however, that he needed to fix his mistakes. So, he went to work and began implementing new procedures in order to bring back his old customers. His sincere efforts paid off, and some of his old customers started coming back. As far as the new store, the rumors that were circulating were a bit exaggerated and hence; not completely true. Finally, the residents of this town were happy because they received better services for their money. In addition to improving his customer service, the old owner started helping the residents of the town by donating to public agencies. Thus, the relationship of the old store owner and the residents dramatically improved. If the residents had accepted the rumors about the new store and its owner as fact, the story could have had a different and a not so beneficial ending; for the store owners, the customers, and the town as a whole.


The vast majority of people in Tigray do not have any second thoughts about federalism. On the contrary, they are demanding implementation and strict enforcement of federalism and its principles. I believe the vast majority of Ethiopians would also like to see the implementation and enforcement of federalism. Moreover, a democratic Tigray, in particular, and a democratic Ethiopia, in general, in which all are free, is the fervent desire of all Tigray people.   


The government is taking a bold and heroic action by going ahead with the elections despite the threats coming from Abiy's government in Addis.  While the consequences of this decision are unknown, it is one that must be taken; for in doing so, the Tigray government is indeed abiding by the Ethiopian constitution. Although Abiy's administration is delaying elections indefinitely, the Ethiopian constitution requires elections to be conducted every five years in the month of May.


We can only work and pray that the elections will be successful, and that peace and stability will be restored throughout the land.


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