The Tigray region retained its vote on Wednesday, but was deemed illegal by parliament. Elections that illustrate the growing tendency of Tigray officials to act as leaders of an independent state.
The tigray votes in front of the authorities. The Ethiopian region’s Tigray’s desire to hold elections on Wednesday, September 9, despite their postponement at the national level, illustrates the political and ethnic divisions that undermine the Prime Minister’s mandate and Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed. Ethiopian politics have been hurt over the past two years by a host of tensions that have sometimes led to serious violence.
In this temptation to assert its independence more and more, the region has recently adopted measures to combat the coronavirus, more severely than the rest of the country, with a mandatory quarantine for most visitors.
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Tigray has also offered Riyadh to host Ethiopian citizens disappearing in Saudi detention centers and accusing Abiy Ahmed of abandoning them to his fate. This independent temptation is also reflected in Wondimu Asamnew’s unlikely trajectory.
“An island of stability”
Earlier this year, the former ambassador retired to head the new Tigray liaison office, enabling Tigray’s officials to interact with foreign governments, chambers of commerce or cultural organizations.
According to WondimuAsamnew, this initiative reflects an attempt by the Tigrayans to open up to the world and distance themselves from the democratization process run by Abiy Ahmed, but characterized by persistent inter-violence.
“Even though there is disorder in the rest of the country, our institutions (in Tigray) are working,” he told AFP. “In that sense, you can say that we are an island of stability in troubled waters.”
A vote without a “legal basis”
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), in power in the region, led the armed struggle against the communist Derg regime until its fall in 1991.
The Tigrayans, who make up 6% of the population (or 110 million people), then controlled the ruling coalition for almost three decades, before protests against the government resulted in the appointment of Abiy Ahmed, an Oromo.
Tigrayan leaders complain that they have since been unfairly targeted in anti-corruption investigations, kept out of key positions and accused of being responsible for all diseases in the country.
The current election conflict goes back to the authorities’ decision in March to postpone the national election that was originally planned for August due to the health situation.
Tigrayan leaders then rejected the provision voted by Parliament, which extended the mandate of the elected national and regional authorities after October. They believe that AbiyAhmedne will therefore no longer be legitimate.
This stance angered Addis Ababa, with election officials in June claiming the Tigray election had “no legal basis”, and with the Senate declaring the election “invalid” in advance on Saturday. .
“Radical change in political stance”
In recent days, the Prime Minister’s Office has ordered the media authority to urge journalists working for foreign media not to cover the vote.
On Monday, the intelligence service prevented several journalists from taking a plane from Addis Ababa to Mekele, the capital of Tigray.
The TPLF has so far refrained from advocating Tigray’s secession and claims to defend the country’s unity. But many Tigrayan nationalists are taking part in the vote.
To improve its chances, TPLF has rejuvenated its candidates in favor of young educated technocrats and businessmen, so far unrelated to it.
“There has been a radical change in political stance in the last two years among the Tigrayans. The TPLF has had to reorganize and reinvent itself to respond to it,” said KjetilTronvoll, an expert on Ethiopian politics.
The section in question
The idea of secession meets a real echo with voters, confirms to the AFP party leader of Tigray’s independence, GirmayBerhe.
“So many people have begun to wonder about Ethiopia itself and many among the intelligentsia, young people, are beginning to agree with our analysis,” he says.
Abraham Gebremedhin, a Tigrayan singer who made a name for himself in advocating for national unity, sees the federal government as to blame. “[Il] put the Tigrayans back to the wall in a way I have never seen, “he said. With these bad attitudes, they can make separation inevitable.