December 18, 2018 (Ezega.com) - A peace conference was held at Mekelle University this week, in Tigray regional state, northern Ethiopia.
The conference, dubbed “Amhara-Tigray” peace conference, was attended by representatives from different political parties, some known personalities, invited guests and people from Mekelle University.
In attendance were some of the leaders of the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF), including Getachew Reda and Alem Gebrewahed. Also in attendance were former leader and founder of the TPLF, Sebhat Nega, as well as former senior leader of the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) and Federal Communications Minister, Bereket Simon. Berket Simon was one of the chairs of the meeting and a keynote speaker.
The conference was intended to foster better relations between peoples of the two regions, Ahmara and Tigray.
There has been a lot of growing animosity behind the scenes between the leaders of the two regions.
At issue are claims and counterclaims regarding two enclaves in Tigray, that, some in the Amhara community, believe belong to their state.
Wolkite in southern Tigray is one area of dispute, which Amhara activists have claimed should be part of the Amhara state. Tensions have flared in the area for several years now, including deadly armed conflicts.
Another area of contention is the Raya area, also in southern Tigray, which some people in the Amhara community also claim belongs to them. There has been demonstrations in the area in support of that claim, where three people were killed in October this year.
However, a more serious issue behind these tensions is the growing rift between the TPLF and ANDM (now ADP - Amhara Democratic Party).
The leaders of both parties do not seem to see eye to eye on current and historic issues governing Ethiopia. Many in the Amhara community believe they were the subject of unfair attacks because of their place in past Ethiopian governments, from the imperial times to the Derg. For years, the Amahara community also resented and decried what they believed was the ethnicization of Ethiopian politics, that is now common all over Ethiopia, but only to join the fray themselves in the end - and to dismay of many who saw them as one of the main pillars of a stable and strong modern Ethiopia.
The ANDM (now ADP) played a decisive role in electing the current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in collaboration with the Oromo People's Democratic Organization (OPDO), now renamed Oromo Democratic Party (ODP). The ADP has strongly supported Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed all the way to this day, over growing objections from the TPLF and it's supporters, inside the governing party, EPRDF (Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front).
There are fears among keen observers on Ethiopian politics and resident in both states that, if the simmering tensions between the two regions are not addressed, it could lead to clashes that can potentially spread to other regions of Ethiopia as well.
During the conference, different voices were heard, from those who defended previous achievements of the EPRDF overall, to those who recalled the repression and the misguided policies of the past, which they claimed was responsible for much of the evil Ethiopia is facing today.
However, most speakers appear to underscore the grave situation that the country, Ethiopia, is in today at both the regional and federal levels.
Bereket Simon, who was one of the main speakers, said Ethiopia is in a grave danger. He said, if we don't do anything, the current situation in Ethiopia can easily go out of hand, leaving us with a failed state. He appealed to all Ethiopians to voice their concerns and help in whatever way they can to save the country. You can watch Bereket Simon speech here on Ezega Videos.
One other notable conference speaker was Amdom Gebresilassie, a member of Arena Tigray, an opposition party from Tigray. He spoke at length how the TPLF and the EPRDF abused both the Tigrayan people and the Ethiopian people in general. He said the elections were not free and fair, but designed to get 100% win for the governing party, and the laws were not real laws, but only to serve the ruling party. He said the Tigrayan people were never the same as the TPLF and hardly benefited from the TPLF in all those years, contrary to what many inside the TPLF claim. His speech was, however, interrupted by continuous applause at the end by people who appear to be supporters of the TPLF seating in the backbenches, who apparently did not lke his speech. You can watch Amdom Gebresilassie speech and the amusing scene that followed here on Ezega Videos.