By Amanuel Biedemariam,
ON February 9, 2015, Peace talks between the Ethiopian government and the ONLF resumed in Nairobi. According to the head of foreign of affairs of the ONLF Mr. Abdirahman Mahdi,
“The objective of their talk with the Ethiopian government is to end the conflict of the region and to get the Ogaden Somalis for their right of Self-determination.”
This raises many questions. Why now and why negotiate when the stated objective of the ONLF is self-determination? Why negotiate before a major national election? Is this a move towards some bilateral relation with the ONLF if agreement is reached? A ploy to stall, or is to confuse the Ethiopian people?
However, the biggest and most significant development took place in Tigray. On February 18, 2015, the 40th anniversary of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) was held in Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray Regional State. According to Ethiopian News Agency (ENA),
“The celebrations were attended by President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia, Prime Minister Kamil Abdelkadir Mohamed of Djibouti, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda of Uganda, and Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission. Prime Minister Hailemariam and, senior government officials earlier laid wreaths at the cemetery at the Martyrs Monument to honor those who died in the seventeen year struggle against the former military dictatorship.”
The minority apartheid regime monopolizes all aspects of the nation’s governance and has long-denied the opposition political space. After the 2005 rigged elections, the people of Ethiopia have given-up on peaceful democratic transition. As a result, there are many opposition groups waging armed struggle. In the North, Tigray Peoples Democratic Movement (TPDM), on the South the Oromo Liberation Front OLF, in the East the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), in central Ethiopia Arbegnoch – Ginbot7 for Unity and Democracy Movement (AGUDM) to mention some.
The people of Ethiopia have long accused the TPLF of trying to create an independent Tigray state. According to Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution that the TPLF wrote and instated,
“Every nation, nationality and people in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self-determination including the right to secession.”
This means, based on the constitution when the regime chooses it can declare independence. Ethiopians have long accused that the TPLF accords disparate advantage to Tigray. They accuse the regime of creating a de-facto nation within a nation. They accuse it for diverting major resources into Tigray.
The minority regime has been building roads, international airport, stadium (capacity 60,000) and rail way systems that link Tigray to the world independent from the rest of Ethiopia. In the capital city of Tigray region Mekele, they built a diplomatic row to house future diplomats and facilitate diplomatic activities. Key aspects of Ethiopian military and air force is firmly established in Tigray.
In Africa it is not customary; in fact it is unheard-of to see leaders of states honor a revolution that is specific to one region inside a nation. In this case a country that is home of the African Union, Ethiopia.
The agenda of the TPLF is the independence of Tigray (Abay Tigray). The leaders of Sudan, Somalia and Rwanda know the regional, ethnic and religious diversity Ethiopia offers. They also understand issues associated with it and have firsthand experience on how these regional and ethnic differences can tear-apart a nation as in Rwanda and South Sudan. Hence, it makes one wonder of the thought process and the reasoning for accepting such an invitation and the participation at the presidential level.
By inviting the leaders to celebrate the 40th year anniversary of “Tigray People’s Liberation Front” in Tigray, the TPLF conducted a de-facto diplomatic relation with these countries. The question, is this a last move towards the independence of Tigray?
The TPLF used the 40th anniversary of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front to introduce the idea of independent Tigray guised as “Tigray Regional State.” This is dangerous move that has no chance to succeed. It will also increase the tension in Ethiopia and throughout the region. Few from the minority clique have benefited in the name of Tigray and at the expense of the majority. This has now created resentment and mistrust which is a recipe for disaster.
Hence it is incumbent upon all peace loving people to ensure the future stability of the region through cooperation and campaigns to undermine the dangerous minority clique and stop it on its tracks.