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Does the Chicken or the Egg Comes First

Does the Chicken or the Egg Comes First


Mahetot Assemelash

July 30, 2020


This is a response to the speech given by the Ethiopian Prime Minster; Abiy Ahmed about the Tigrian people (July 27, 2020). The prime minister seems worried about Tigray people and development. If he has such feeling he should answer the following whys?


  1. Why Abiy dismissed the elected politicians from their office for not joining Prosperity Party? 
  2. In a country with law and order why the road from Addis to Tigray was blocked and Tigrians who lived in Gonder were killed and tortured?
  3. Why were Tigrians who are members of the parliament harassed for asking a legitimate question? Why use the term “ለማያቅሽ ታጠኚ”? 
  4. Is it Tigray or Eritrea that is part of Ethiopia? PM is bargaining on behalf of Eritrean President to the extent that people are wondering.
  5. What are Taye Denda and Negus Tilahun two of your lieutenants saying about Tigray?


The Tigraian people are curious about the different words uttered by PM on different occasions. It is shameful to have a prime minister that doesn’t represent all Ethiopians but also lacks analytical thinking, political diplomacy, and consistency.


Abiy doesn’t seem to be aware of Tigrian people. Tigrian people can’t be manipulated. 


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Every Ethiopian and mainly the federalist groups are aware of Tigrians motive; they want to keep the freedom they have fought for 17 years. The 17-year struggle has paved the road for Ethiopia with diverse social and political agendas. If it was not for such an agenda Abiy and his party will not have gotten a chance to exist. Since 2018 it’s regrettable to see Ethiopia going back to square one (the 1970s). Ethiopians were seeking fairness but lost even the freedom they had. Currently, Abiy and his party are designing 10 years of a development strategy based on the idea of building a centralized government based on “የዜጋ ፖለቲካ”. The intent is to bring back “ኢትዮጵያዊነት ያብባል”. This is why people with a different opinion and particularly those who echo federalism is targeted "መስከረም 30 ሳይደርስ ቀደምናቸው". 


Fortunately, the Tigrian people are familiar with politics and political strategy. The speech of PM is not about the lack of services in Tigray (school and water hole). 


Sadly the PM speech overlooked the important theoretical analysis and political discourse on the link between development and service expansion. The presumption of spending on education and water is better than spending for election is far from the theoretical underpinning. This is very much related to the connotation of: Does the chicken or the egg come first”? Does Tigray need service or election? At present service, expansion is not primary for Tigray. Its secondary, freedom is primary, and having an election is a must to do.


Democracy is a prerequisite to development in many countries all over the world. Maintaining peace, achieving equality and equity, and having development are enhanced by having democracy. The vindication of freedoms and rights provided by this causal linkage is over and above the directly constitutive role of these freedoms in development. This is the stand of Tigray people; Dr. Debretsion and Tigray people are two sides of the same coin. In Tigray, Dr. Debretsion is not dictating but instead, he is listening to the people. People want to elect their leaders. Adding to this the Tigray people, the government of the region, and the opposition parties are working together to advance freedom, transform Tigray, and establish modern politics that advances democracy in the state. 


The term freedom is presented by the Nobel Prize Winner AmartyaSen in one of his book “Development as Freedom”. Sen perceived freedom as the necessary and sufficient criteria for any development to occur. 


Currently, the Abiy government is a pro-neo-liberal ideology. It has invited western involvement in the country’s political and economic system. It has denied Ethiopians freedom and basic civil rights. Ethiopians are suffering from deprivation of civil rights, freedom of having a different political opinion, the freedom to vote, and the freedom to freely express and participate. Abiy claimed that the denial of these rights helps to stimulate economic growth and is "good" for rapid economic development (progress) of Ethiopia. The PM strongly supposes that leaders of the region have to be appointed than be elected. He hardly is learning from the current insecurity of Ethiopia. Lack of democratic rights and liberties have cost lives, damaged the service sectors, and destroyed several factories. 


Unlike other regions, the government and the people of Tigray at present would like to substantiate that they are not ready to be dictated. They would like to prove that Tigray is for all people living in Tigray and any decision should also be left to the people living in that periphery. Most fundamentally political liberty and civil freedoms are directly important on their own and are crucial for any development to happen in Tigray. Therefore, the justification given by the PM is baseless; look to what has happened to Ethiopia in the past two years. Since June 2018 Ethiopia has lost a huge capital (financial and human) because people have been deprived of democracy (freedom), which is a prerequisite for the creation or expansion of services. 


The government of Tigray in coordination with the people has the confidence that current spending on an election is going to create access and opportunities that have never existed before. Soon service deficiency in Tigray will be history. The speech of Abiy is more of frustration than a concern, "ዘጨነቖስያ እግሪ ሃማተይ ቀጢኑ ኢሉ ይሓሊ"


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