By Staff Reporter
October 30, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- The International Crisis Group (ICG) said the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) has set the resignation of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as a precondition for a peace talks to kick off with the federal government.
In a report entitled ‘Streeing Ethiopia’s Tigray Crisis Away from Conflict’, ICG said the transitional government should assume power and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed must go before negotiations begin between the two warring forces.
“The standoff could trigger a damaging conflict that may even rip the Ethiopian state asunder. Federal rulings have authorised military intervention in Tigray, which boasts its own large regional security force. The worsening dispute is only one crisis among many rocking Ethiopia’s troubled transition,” ICG said in a report.
Acrimony between the two sides runs high. Addis Ababa perceives TPLF as spoilers unable to accept its 2018 loss of power on the back of the three-year wave of popular protests. Abiy’s allies accuse the TPLF “criminal top brass” of engendering some of the many crises that confront Ethiopia and cast Mekelle as hell-bent on undermining his administration to try and force the premier to make way for a transitional government.
ICG proposed both sides should embrace comprehensive dialogue and to kickstart such a process, the federal government should suspend the budgetary measures for now and Tigray should water down its preconditions for talks, particularly that all jailed leaders must participate and a transitional government assumes power.
“These are demands for power, to break the reform and come to power in a short-cut manner,” a ruling party official told Crisis Group. The TPLF sees things differently, accusing Abiy of working to weaken the region and monopolise power. They vow to push back against authorities in the national capital.
Any conflict between the sides might threaten the Ethiopian state’s integrity. After Addis Ababa opposed its election, Tigray sees federal meddling with the budget allocation as another violation of the region’s right to administer itself under the federal constitution.
Tigrayan sentiment in favour of secession, a constitutional right for Ethiopia’s regions that a number of new Tigrayan nationalist parties support or consider a viable last resort, is thus inching ever higher. In this instance, however, the federal government would deem an effort to break away illegal as it considers Tigray’s current executive unlawfully constituted. A move toward Tigray’s independence would also trigger resistance among Amhara nationalist factions fearful that it would mean the permanent loss of territories they claim Tigray annexed from Amhara in the early 1990s, as Crisis Group documented in June.
The ruling Prosperity Party claims TPLF orchestrated recent attacks on ethnic Amhara civilians in Metekel Zone in westerly Benishangul-Gumuz region that left dozens dead. The TPLF denies this and earlier allegations of involvement in the assassination popular Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa that triggered July’s violence in Oromia.
Ruling party claims of TPLF efforts to sabotage the transition have angered the region’s party leaders, feeding a sense of betrayal and victimisation among Tigrayans that in turn has whipped up secessionist sentiment.
The TPLF is outraged that Abiy has labelled the TPLF-led federal era “27 years of darkness” and targeted Tigrayan officials for graft and human rights abuses while, in their eyes, cosying up excessively to long-time foe, Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki.
“To avoid a looming showdown between Addis Ababa and Mekelle that could trigger broader instability, Abiy’s government and Tigray’s leaders must adopt more flexible stances, ICG recommends.
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