The following message was issued by the government of Tigray on 02 October 2020. We publish it here as is, as part of Tghat’s effort to collect and publish Tigray government’s press releases and letters from before the start of the war on Tigray.
The Government of Regional State of Tigray Office of Inter-governmental Relations of the Government of the National Regional State of Tigray
Ref. No: R/N/M/02-2013
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assumed power in April 2018 to spearhead the reform that the Ethiopian people demanded and EPRDF, the then ruling party, promised to deliver. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has, however, forsaken the reform agenda and focused on building a system subservient to his dictatorial ambitions. Nothing is sacred in his drive for personal power consolidation. There was nothing left unscathed for political convenience. He single-mindedly deconstructed the constitutional federal order and created a conducive environment for anarchy and violence. Politics has become a gamble to be won by any means possible regardless of legal constraints and morale sensitivities.
Tigrai’s story in the last two years and a half has been a story of defending and protecting its right of self-governance, enshrined in the constitution, from such unbridled ambition of the new group in power. The first phase of Tigrai’s response to the situation was trying to bring the reform process back on track through the available inner EPRDF systems and mechanisms. When the need arose, Tigrai came out publicly to express its concern and remind the leadership and the Ethiopian people that the current administration was leading our country in the wrong direction.
It’s not an easy balancing act when you have a leader on the other side that cares less about the consequences of his words and actions. It is nearly impossible to have rational, democratic, dialogue with a person who firmly believes he is preordained to lead the country. As a result of such misguided concept of politics, the leadership turned a deaf ear to the concerns raised by TPLF and the Tigray people in general. He also ignored the appeals and wise council of our elders, religious leaders, and many other political leaders for a consensual process.
In a typical totalitarian manner, he behaved as if there were no constitutional rules to follow, institutions to respect, and an impending crisis to avoid. Conspiracy, betrayal, crime and outright lies became the new rules of running politics and public affairs. Anything dear to Ethiopians has been desecrated and trivialized.
The Prime Minister eventually abolished EPRDF and undertook an apparently bloodless coup. It was a daytime political robbery. No rationalization in the world could cover the hard truth that the Prosperity Party’s usurpation of power was unconstitutional and legally indefensible. Had it not been for the restraint of TPLF, such constitutional transgression could have triggered an all-out conflict in the country.
The last act of deconstructing the constitutional order came when the group in power unilaterally and indefinitely cancelled the May 2020 national election. It was a decision that brought the federal republic to an end. Subsequently, political leaders who challenged the unconstitutional decision were jailed. Others were neutralized by means of bribery, intimidation, and manipulating division within their ranks. This was yet another impudent measure by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that could have taken the country to the brink of civil war. Again, TPLF was restrained and took a constitutional and political path to respond to the crisis.
The National Regional State of Tigray decided to hold its regional elections as scheduled by the federal and regional constitutions. The decision to hold the election was not only constitutional but also had near unanimous support across all sectors of the Tigray society and party lines. The registration of more than 100 % of the expected voters signified the level of enthusiasm people had in favor of the election. 99 % of registered voters casted their vote on Election Day. It was perhaps the highest rate of turn out in the history of democratic elections. The Tigray election among other things proved the fact that a democratic election can be successfully held while fighting COVID 19.
The Tigray National regional state has repeatedly warned of the danger of state collapse and the consequences of the political crisis Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has invited. It has repeatedly flagged the dangers of crossing the constitutionally defined term limit of the government. It has also repeatedly appealed to the international community to use its leverage on the government to address the crisis through all inclusive, comprehensive, national dialogue.
The Tigray National Regional State has also, on many occasions, made clear it will not recognize the government of Dr. Abiy Ahmed and the representative institutions as legitimate after the expiry of their term on October 6, 2020. Effective this date, Tigray will recall its representatives from all elected bodies and the Council of Ministers. Any legal enactment or political decision by the illegitimate government will not be applicable in The Tigray National Regional State.
After two and half years of political mismanagement, the country is heading into an inevitable downfall. The federal republic, gradually, but surely, is unraveling. The level of the political and constitutional crisis in the country cannot be resolved by a government-run sham election. The political stalemate demands a dialogue not a monologue. The agenda of the time is more comprehensive than holding an election. It is important to underline that the current leaders may have playfully endangered the continued survival of the carefully knit country, but it will certainly be very difficult to reconstitute it again.
The Tigray National Regional State has been working for a peaceful and constitutional resolution of the political crisis engulfing the country. The response of the regime has never been constructive and forward looking. We would like to indicate that if the regime continues to escalate its provocations against the security and wellbeing of the Tigray people, it will be solely responsible for the irreversible damage that may be caused on the unity and peace of the country. It is in this context that the Tigray National Regional State once again calls upon your Excellency’s government, to put the necessary pressure on the federal government to accept the peace plan presented by the Coalition of Ethiopian Federalist Forces and bring the country back from the brink.
Asmelash Woldesillasie Zegeye
Head of Inter-governmental relations of the Government of the National Regional State of Tigray