By Bileh Jelan @BilehJelan
Addis Abeba, June 16/2020 – In a statement released late this afternoon Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) Chairman and Tigray Regional State vice president Debretsion G/Michael (PhD) is quoted as saying that “if there is a need to have a platform for dialogue, it should be a a national dialogue involving all political parties and Ethiopia’s nations and nationalities.”
Debretsion said this in the wake of a day-long dialogue with representatives of Ethiopian Inter-Faith Council, a Council consisting of seven different religious and traditional leaders, as well as representatives of Abba Gadas, senior citizens, and elders who took the initiative to travel to Mekelle in a bid to lesson growing tension between the ruling Prosperity Party and TPLF.
The statement said the representatives have presented a written paper on what they believed to be the initial discussion points in which they emphasized that “The leaderships of Tigray regional state and the federal government should immediately sit at a round table and calmly discuss about national consensuses as well as discuss on ways of solving global and national challenges together.” They have also emphasized that what the country needs at the moment was peace and its people should focus on peace and development and not war, the statement paraphrased the paper by the representatives.
It is in his response to this that Debretsion is quoted as saying what the country needs is an all-inclusive dialogue involving political parties, and federalist forces representing all nations and nationalities in the country. He also said that TPLF doesn’t accept any attempt to have a dialogue behind closed doors involving only itself and the federal government and that such dialogue doesn’t bring any meaning. However, he expressed his appreciation and respect to the initiative, although it happened “in the last minute.”
He further accused the PP led federal government of trying to dismantle the constitution and establish an authoritarian state, which has exacerbated the tension between Mekelle and Addis Abeba; and if there are parties trying to solve this problem, they should first look into the struggle between the ruling Prosperity Party and the different nations and nationalities of Ethiopia and not just the federal government and Tigray regional state, the statement said.
Debretsion has criticized the silence hitherto of the inter-faith council for other crises including that plagued the country, such as blockages on roads leading to Tigray region, the use of public media by the ruling party to wage the rhetoric of war against Tigray for its decision to hold elections, PP’s complacency with Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki to sidelining the Tigray region and its people as well as PP’s actions in working with other external forces against the interest of its own people, according to the statement. If a dialogue aimed at finding a solution is to be had it should also include at least other political parties, religious leaders, senior citizens and elders in the region and not just TPLF. He also criticized the ban on the mediafrom attending the meeting, and said holding a dialogue in secrete will not bring a solution.
However, he assured the participants that there will be no war that Tigray will be starting, the statement said and paraphrased him as saying Tigray knows the worst part of a war and knows too well the the fruits of peace, unity and tolerance; however, this doesn’t mean Tigray will be handing over its rights, the statement said. AS