Pre-election Ethiopian federal intervention in Tigray would have been more justified than post-election - The Habesha: Latest Ethiopian News and Point of View 24/7

Pre-election Ethiopian federal intervention in Tigray would have been more justified than post-election

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By Wondwossen Demissie Kassa

Abiy outfit

By intervening post-election, the federal government would be doing nothing to slow the spread of COVID-19, which was the official reason for delaying all polls.

In June, the House of Federation, in a controversial process, interpreted Ethiopia’s constitution to authorize the continuation of all incumbent governments across the federation beyond their constitutional term limits.

Tigray region opposed the postponements.

As a result, despite rejection and warnings by the National Electoral Board and the House of Federation (HoF), the region continued preparation for an election for its State Council.

Leaders of the Inter-Religious Council and Elders Consultative Forum of Ethiopia, International Crisis Group, and scholars have recommended peaceful settlement of the ongoing election related dispute between the Federal Government and Tigray Region. I subscribe to this suggestion.

However, as per Article 62(9) of Ethiopia’s constitution, federal intervention is due when a member state of the federation, in violation of this constitution, endangers the constitutional order.

Thus, if Tigray proceeds with its election, unless the central government tolerates endangering the constitutional order, some form of federal intervention is inevitable.

The federal government seems to have reserved federal intervention as a post-election alternative. Be it before or after election, federal intervention which, according to the law, might include deploying force by the federal government, would be highly destructive, rendering it perhaps more harmful than increased COVID-19 spread due to election activities in Tigray. This week, Tigray’s government sternly advised the HoF against intervening in its self-determination exercise ahead of a meeting of the upper house.

Regardless, if federal intervention is inevitable, pre-election intervention would have been more justified than post-election intervention.

This is because the very process of preparation for the election in defiance of the decision of the HoF contravenes the constitution. So, the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the government in Tigray are already in breach of the constitution, satisfying preconditions for federal intervention.

Furthermore, if the whole purpose of postponement of national and regional elections is to protect the public from COVID-19, this purpose would have been served by early intervention that stopped risky election-related activities.

Seen from this perspective, any post-election intervention would be too late to be justified.

In a meeting held on 29 July 2020, where Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed discussed current issues with representatives of political parties, one of the Tigrayan opposition leaders, Aregawi Berhe, worried by Tigray’s move, asked the Prime Minster about the federal government’s responsibility to stop Tigray’s ongoing election preparations.

The prime minster dismissed what the region is doing in the name of election as a drama that does not have any semblance of “election” in the proper sense of the term. But he told the participants that the federal government would not see a problem with “election” results if TPLF was re-elected. This is because, Abiy noted, the drama would not have the effect of contravening the HoF decision, which mandated TPLF to stay in power.

According to the prime minister, the federal government would see the regional election as problematic requiring the federal government’s attention only if it resulted in a new ruling party replacing the TPLF.

It is very likely that TPLF will win the election. However, that does not necessarily mean that the post-election regional government would be considered lawful by HoF.

First, as the number of parliamentary seats in the Tigray State Council has been increased by 20 percent through a recent constitutional amendment, the election will change the composition of that legislature.

Second, even if TPLF wins, there is a possibility for members of the incumbent council to be replaced by other members of TPLF. For these reasons the post-election regional law-making body would not be the same as the incumbent that the HoF ruled should remain in power.

Thus, even if we follow the prime minister’s outcome-oriented approach, federal intervention is unavoidable.

In the event that federal intervention would not be implemented immediately after the regional election in Tigray because TPLF, despite changes in the State Council, continues to be in power and the federal government prefers to live with this, that would not necessarily mean avoiding, but only postponing, federal intervention.

This is because according to the HoF decision, the postponed election is to be conducted both at federal and regional levels anytime where the pandemic sufficiently subsides. When that occurs, the National Electoral Board would resume its activities to conduct federal and regional elections, including in Tigray.

The federal government would be expected to ensure that elections would be conducted in Tigray not only because it does not recognize the impending election: there are also opposition parties, such as Arena, whose base is Tigray, that are not participating in the upcoming poll.

Furthermore, the National Movement of Amhara has already raised a separate challenge to the election in Tigray regarding disputed territories of the districts of Welkait, Humera, Tegede and Telemte (Amharic transliterations) in West Tigray and North West Tigray Zones, as well as the Raya-Akobo area in South Tigray Zone, claiming that it has interest to run for election in these territories. These parties have a legitimate demand for elections to be conducted in Tigray when health conditions allow and for them to participate.

While the federal government cannot ignore this demand for elections to be conducted in Tigray at the same time as the rest of the federation, as things stand, it would face strong resistance from Tigray. As far as the latter is concerned, the result of the impending poll would be valid for five years. Thus, Tigray is unlikely to cooperate with the National Electoral Board for a post-COVID election in the region.

This would result in a confrontation with the federal government that would be likely to trigger federal intervention.

The prime minister, in his  7 May video statement, noted “unconstitutional attempts to undertake illegal elections will result in harm to the country and the people.” In the same statement, he made it clear that “the government will be forced to take any measures to assure the safety of the people and the country”, apparently without waiting for the result of the election.

The prime minister’s former spokesperson Nigusu Tilahun later reiterated  that the federal government would enforce its election-postponement decision, implying action to prevent Tigray’s poll. Now, it appears too late for that.

The prime minister’s focus, in his recent statement, on whether the election in Tigray would result in replacing TPLF by another party therefore amounts to walking back his earlier position. More importantly, it loses sight of the core purpose of election postponement.  Officially, elections were postponed because the process would entail activities incompatible with slowing the spread of the virus.

Postponement of elections aims at preventing activities that catalyze the spread of the virus and go against the COVID-19-prompted state of emergency.

It follows that it is these activities associated with the election process that would increase the virus’ spread—not whether TPLF remains in power—that should be the primary federal concern. In theory, by reserving federal intervention as a post-election alternative, the people of Tigray would be the victim of the likely increased spread of the coronavirus.

Moreover, in the absence of border restrictions and quarantine system among inter-regional travellers, in due course, the impact of the virus could be felt nationwide. As such, the election in Tigray would have a national public health consequence that might end up in making postponement of elections in other parts of the country arguably pointless sacrifice of democratic rights.

8 Comments

  1. One thing the federal government does not know is Tigray had been divided since Abay Woldu was removed from power without a fair election. That is why it is highly important for Tigray to hold a fair election ASAP. Tigray can not wait any longer because the division is creating too many societal , economical and political problems.

  2. Subject: “Ethiopia -Tigrai confrontation over interpretation of the present Constitution of Ethiopia By Wondwossen Demissie Kassa, ZeHabesha, September 4, 2020

    Commentary, 4 Sept 2020
    First and foremost, cardinal questions must be asked:
    a) WHO [i.e. under whose government] drafted, polished and approved the present CONSTITUTION of Ethiopia?
    b) How long has it been since the present Constitution was approved and adopted for service ?
    c) Was there any friction —disagreement —problem over the Constitution?

    Regardless of the answers to the above questions, will ETHIOPIA benefit from confrontation within itself, by itself, for itself. Let us be frank, honest and ask ourselves: Will there be an iota of benefit to the ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE at large? Again let us be frank: the confrontation is only for the pride and benefit of individuals who are positioned to aggrandize themselves with glory and profits for themselves — money, sociological agrandisement and pride. Let us be frank. The ordinary people of a country takes a second place of importance following dictatorial leaders. This is a fact we cannot deny. All the bickering has NOTHING to do with the ordinary people. It has never been; and will never be otherwise. We Africans are destined to be so — prove it otherwise. As the insightful Amharic saying goes [translation] >>> “ here is the horse; and there is the field” THE END

  3. TPLF for the Global Grand War Prize!

    The WAMDA (The World Armaments Manufacturers and Distributors Association) just announced that they are founding a prize to be won by a person or organization that excelled in the love of war.

    WAMDA says this is to counter the Nobel Peace Prize, which has succeeded in promoting world peace to such a dangerous extent that the prospect of war is diminishing by the day. Therefore, WAMDA has no alternative other than to fight back and protect the interests of its members. The new prize is to be named Global Grand War Prize.

    In response to WAMDA’s call for nominations I propose TPLF (Tigrai Peoples Liberation Front) as the first recipient of this coveted prize for the following reasons:

    TPLF was born in war, grew by war, lives for war. Its past, present, and foreseeable future is war.
    It loves and worships war. One of its leaders boasted, “We make war!”. Another one declared, “No earthly power will defeat us in war!”. A third explained, “Fighting is in our DNA. It is like everyday children’s games for us”.
    It hates peace as much as it loves war. The latest winner of the Noble Peace Prize is its declared enemy number one.
    Ladies and Gentlemen, while TPLF was in government its two glaring achievements stand out:
    a) It launched war on a friendly and neighboring country which resulted in the death of tens of thousands of young men.
    b) It has divided the country it was entrusted to govern into ethnic enclaves; and made sure each one wages war on the others. There are more than 80 tribes in the country so, the plan is a perpetual civil war – huge, unstoppable.
    Ladies and gentlemen, please note – this is only in one country. But Africa has more than 50 countries and tens of thousands of tribes. If this strategy can be exported to these countries just imagine the volume of armament your members can sell. Billions and trillions of dollars!
    Ladies and Gentlemen , as we speak TPLF is preparing for war, as always, it believes it has many real and imagined enemies. You will be impressed how TPLF’ s training and preparation for war is proceeding:
    a) It trained everybody for war; men and women, including priests, pensioners, the disabled, and school children;
    b) It trained domestic animals like dogs and donkeys in the affairs of war.
    One more, first-in-the-world, mind-blowing achievement. The researchers in TPLF’s secret war laboratory in Mekele have announced an exciting discovery. Now, they can train unborn babies while they are still in the womb! People have been wondering why expectant mothers in every town and village are commanded to report to war training centres two days a week, for two hours. Now they know.

    I therefore proudly propose TPLF as the undisputed first winner of this prize. But, ladies and gentlemen, you should be quick and waste no time. Experts say that TPLF may crumble from the weight of its own sins accumulated over decades or may even just self-destruct from its unbridled ambitions and misadventures. But before its ultimate demise it is only proper that its unparalleled contributions towards the cause of war are recognised.

    Yours Faithfully

  4. TPLF old-ሌባስ are acting like a puberty dog. የነሱን መደበቅያን ዋስትና ለመስጠት እንጂ፣ የነሱ ምርጫ ተካሄደ አልተካሄደ የሚያመጣው ምንም መሰረታዊ ለውጥ የለም::

    መሰረታዊ ለውጥ ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ በሚመጣበት ጊዜ እነሱም እምንት ይሆናሉ:: መሰረታዊ ለውጥ ይመጣ ዘንዳ ግን ምንምን መካሄድ ይኖርበታል::

    ለውጥ የሚመጣው እንደ አቡነ ተክለሃይማኖት ሰባት አመታት ሙሉ ባንድ እግር ስለተገተሩ አይደለም፣ ለውጥ ከንቅስቃሴ ነው የሚመጣው፣
    የኣይተ Wondwossen Demissie Kassa ሃተታም ለውጥ ይመጣ ዘንዳ የሚያሳየው አንዳችም መላ የለውም :: ለውጥ ወደሚያመጡ ተግባራት እንራመድ ዘንዳ የተለመደውን ፀረ ትግራይ ዘፈንን በማቅረር ሳይሆን፣ በተቻለ ፍጥነት የሚከተሉት መከናወን ይገባቸዋል:

    ኦሮሞዎቹ ኮሎኒያል ባልሆነው ግእዝ ፊደል መገልገልን መጀመር አለባቸው
    አዲስ አበባን የአፍሪካ ዋና ከተማነቱን እንደያዘ ኦሮሞዎች እንዲያስተዳድሩት ማረጋገጥ
    ይሄንን የሚቃወሙትን ለምሳሌ እነ ነጋዎችን ወይ አማኑኤል ማስገባት ወይንም ደግሞ ወደሚሰለፉበት ጎዳናዎቻቸው DC መልሶ መላክ
    የነጋዎቹ ካድሬዎቻቸው አስር ኪሎ በርበሬን (ከአሰር ኪሎው አራት ኪሎው የተደባለቀ ቀይ አፈር ነው!) ይዘው ወደ አውሮፓ እየመጡ ከቤት ቤት ተዟዙረው ቸርችረው ከሸጡ በኋላ፣ ሃያ አገልግሎታቸው የወደቀና ምንም መሬትን የመንከስ ችሎታ የሌላቸውን ጎማዎችን ወደ አዲስ ይዞ መግባትና መሽጥ ነገሮችን መቆም አለባቸው፣ መኪናው ሁሉ ምድር ስለማይነክስ እያዳለጠው ብቻ በየገደሉ መግባትና የሰው ሂይወት ማለፍ ከመሰረታዊ ለውጥ ጋራ ሳይሆን ግንኝነቱ ከጥፋት ጋራ ብቻ ነው
    አፄ ቴዎድሮስ ትግራዋይ እንደመሆናቸው መጠን እርሷቸው ያቀንዋቸውን ምድሮችን በሙሉ መልሶ በክልል ትግራይ እንድተዳደሩ ማድረግ፣ እንዲሁም ምድረ ድባርዋ-አዱሊስ ወደ እናት አገራቸው ፅዮን ዘንዳ የሚመለሱበትን ሜላ ትልም መቀየስ
    እነዚህ ነገሮች በሚከናወንበት ጊዜ ከነ Wondwossen Demissie Kassa አቡነ ተክለሃይማኖታዊ መገተር ዝባዚንኬን ተላቅቀን ወደፊት መንቀሳቀን እንጀምራለን
    የነገ ተንቀሳቃሽ ሰዎች ያድርገን፣ Unity in diversity!

  5. There is no a case for a war against Tigray. The very thought of war against Tigray fills with me fear about the future of Ethiopia. Another Derg-like miscalculation will further weaken Ethiopia still grappling with diplomatic defeats at the hands of Egypt. Why not allow other regions to hold elections? TPLF will not gain legitimacy to rule Ethiopia from elections. It’s protecting its interests. Political myopia has been the main problem in Ethiopia and the driver of our internal militarism.

  6. Dear Countryman/Woman Awash Lemma:

    Excellent observation. You hit it right on the nose about the war mongering behavior of an organization long wrestled away from the noble people of Tigray. The TPLF has turned into an incubator of fanatic ethnicists since the front was forcefully grabbed away by fanatic commies in the 1980’s. It has been passed around from one group of fanatics to another for over 35 years now. These deacons of Marx, Lenin and Mao have successfully closed the doors tight where once you’re in it you will need a divine intervention to get out. If you speak while still inside, a night of long knives is coming right at you. I remember an interview in which a former official described daily life during the 1980’s and 1990’s. You always look over your shoulders because what you had said during a discussion the previous day might have raised eye brows with the henchmen on top. If that was the case, it will be Kapaw! And you are gone during a firefight with the enemy. Shot in the back!!! That was the modus operandi these commies brought with them when they came to the capital. The work must be intensified to wrestle away the organization from these despots. If things are laid out properly for everyone the average member will have no problem getting along with everyone else.

    Keep up the good work!!!!

  7. I know Henock, you are not going to post this but at least you will read it.

    I advise for dialog. however if youthink war is the option.

    All of you who wants war especially.

    1, Henock , Editor of Zehabesha you still young, come over here lets go fight. there is AK47 ready for you so you can kill.
    2. Ittu Aba Farda, I know you are too old, but you have to come here, at least you can assist moving or comforting the injured at the war.

    Otherwise no body is going to war for your trash ego.

  8. ኣይተ ሄኖክ፣ ለምንድነው ደግሞ እንደልማድህ የሚከተለውን ደግሞ manipulate አድርገህ ለአንባብያን ያቀረብከው?

    ” TPLF old-ሌባስ are acting like a puberteting young man. የነሱን መደበቅያን ዋስትና ለመስጠት እንጂ የነሱ ምርጫ ተካሄደ አልተካሄደ የሚመጣ ምንም መሰረታዊ ለውጥ የለም::

    መሰረታዊ ለውጥ ኢትዮጵያ ውስጥ በሚመጣበት ጊዜ እነሱም እምንት ይሆናሉ:: መሰረታዊ ለውጥ ይመጣ ዘንዳ ምንምን መካሄድ ይኖርበታል::
    ለውጥ የሚመጣው እንደ አቡነ ተክለሃይማኖት ሰባት አመታት ባንድ እግር ስለተገተሩ አይደለም፣ ለውጥ ከንቅስቃሴ ነው የሚመጣው፣
    የ ኣይተ Wondwossen Demissie Kassa ሃተታም ለውጥ ይመጣ ዘንዳ የሚያሳየው አንዳችም መላ የለውም :: ለውጥ ወደሚያመጡ ተግባራት እንራመድ ዘንዳ በተቻለ ፍጥነት የሚከተሉት መከናወን ይገባቸዋል:

    ኦሮሞዎቹ ኮሎኒያል ባልሆነው ግእዝ ፊደል መገልገልን መጀመር አለባቸው
    አዲስ አበባን የአፍሪካ ዋና ከተማነቱን እንደያዘ ኦሮሞዎች እንዲያስተዳድሩት ማረጋገጥ
    ይሄንን የሚቃወሙትን ለምሳሌ እነ ነጋዎችን ወይ አማኑ ኤል ማስገባት ወይንም ደግሞ ወደሚሰለፉበት ጎዳናዎቻቸው DC መልሶ መላክ
    የነጋዎቹ ካድሬዎቻቸው አስር ኪሎ በርበሬን (ከአሰር ኪሎው አራት ኪሎው ቀይ አፈር ነው!) ይዘው ወደ አውሮፓ እየመጡ ከቤት ቤት ተዟዙረው ቸርችረው ከሸጡ በኋላ ሃያ አገልግሎታቸው የወደቀና ምንም መሬትን የመንከስ ችሎታ የሌውን ጎማዎችን ወደ አዲስ ይዞ መግባትና መሽጥ ነገሮችን መቆም አለባቸው፣ መኪናው ሁሉ ምድር ስለማይነክስ እያዳለጠው ብቻ በየገደሉ መግባትና የሰው ሂይወት ማለፍ ከመሰረታዊ ለውጥ ጋራ ሳይሆን ግንኝነቱ ከጥፋት ጋራ ብቻ ነው
    አፄ ቴዎድሮስ ትግራዋይ ዕንደመሆናቸው መጠን እርሷቸው ያቀንዋቸውን ምድሮችን በሙሉ መልሶ በክልል ትግራይ እንድተዳደሩ ማድረግ፣ እንዲሁም ምድረ ድባርዋ-አዱሊስ ወደ እናት አገራቸው ፅዮን ዘንዳ የሚመለሱበትን ሜላ ትልም መቀየስ
    እነዚህ ነገሮች በሚከናወንበት ጊዜ ከነ Wondwossen Demissie Kassa አቡነ ተክለሃይማኖታዊ መገተር ዝባዚንኬን ተላቅቀን ወደፊት መንቀሳቀን እንጀምራለን
    የነገ ተንቀሳቃሽ ሰዎች ያድርገን፣ Unity in diversity! ”

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