Tigray Accuses Addis Ababa of Denying Chinese Delegation Travel to Mekelle City

By Staff Reporter

Abraham-TekesteDecember 20, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- Relations between the Tigray Regional State and the federal government of Ethiopia have gone worse as the later reportedly denied Chinese delegation to travel to Mekelle, the capital of Tigray regional administration.

The relations between Addis Ababa and Mekelle have reached to “critical stage” Dr. Abrham Tekeste, a senior official of the state, said on Friday in an exclusive interview with the BBC Amharic.

The regional administration has accused the central government of denying members of the Chinese delegation to travel to Mekelle city at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport for undisclosed reasons.

Abraham Tekeste, Tigray Trade and Investment Bureau Head with the rank of deputy president said the Chinese delegation comprising of six members set to pay a visit to the Tigray state where they planned to conclude agreements on development and capacity building cooperation.

“Members of the delegation were on board when they were told to step down from the airplane which was destined to Mekelle city,” Abraham was quoted as saying.

“I was in charge to welcome the delegation at Mekelle airport. The airplane landed on time but without members of the delegation. I heard that having finished all formalities, they were on board but they stepped down by the order of representatives from the federal government, Abraham added.

“The decision by the federal government is unacceptable, Abraham said.

According to the deputy president, this is not the first time that the federal government denied travelers to Tigray state. Investors and heads of federal institutions have also been threatened by coming to Tigray state, he continued.

The people of Tigray are undergoing economic and psychological pressures, he said, adding the administration is willing to hold discussions with the central government to solve the underlying problems.

Confrontations between the central government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which administers the state, began back in mid-2018 following Prime Minister Abiy’s measure to crackdown on corruption and its security networks.

TPLF which was a dominant political force and a founding member of Ethiopia’s ruling party EPRDF claimed that the corruption and security clampdowns were ethnically-motivated. The Tigray ethnic group comprises 6 percent of Ethiopia’s population of over 100 million.

After Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed assumed office in April 2018, TPLF officials including, Abraham Tekeste, who was the country’s Minister of Finance at the time, are mostly stationed in the state for what many people charge is a step to run away from accountability to central government.

The relations between the two bodies have markedly deteriorated following PM Abiy Ahmed's government announcement to establish what is called the Prosperity Party in replacement of the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which the TPLF gravely opposes.

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