News: Interim leader imparts grave political, security crisis in Tigray amid mounting tension over disallowed protest rally

Getachew Reda, Interim president of the Tigray regional state (Photo: Tigrai Television)

Addis Abeba – Interim president of the Tigray regional state, Getachew Reda, has revealed grave political and security crises in the region in the aftermath of the two-year war that ended in November last year.

In a presser on Wednesday, the president said the security situation in the region has become perilous and that going out has become a luxury. “There is no security situation that warrants safety for us, officials under protection, let alone the ordinary people,” he said.

The president’s remark came amidst rising tension in the region’s capital Mekelle over a disallowed protest rally that was jointly planned for today by three opposition political groups, Tigray Independent Party, Salsay Weyane, and National Congress of Great Tigray (Baytona).

The police in the region detained at least 20 leaders and members of the three opposition parties since 05 September, according to a source from Mekelle. Dejen Mezgebe (PhD), chairperson of the Tigray Independent Party, Hayalu Godifay, chairperson of Salsay Weyane; and Kibrom Berehe, top leader of Baytona were re-arrested yesterday according to Alemseged Aregay, deputy chairperson and head of foreign affairs for the Tigray Independent Party.

The three leaders were initially released from prison after three hours of detention. Eight more opposition party leaders and supporters who were enroute to the Romanat square, where the rally was set to happen, were also arrested, according to Alemseged.

Commenting on the disallowed protest rally, president Getachew stated that the current security situation in the region doesn’t allow such demonstrations to happen. “There is a high security threat in the region and explosives are also found in abundance,” he noted.

He further conveyed that “there are forces that are planning to use this opportunity to incite violence and bring Tigray back into chaos,” said Getachew. He said that “for the sake of public safety, we will talk to the leaders of the protest rally to change the time and venue”.

Getachew stated that efforts have been commenced to re-enlist former security personnel and mobilize the wider community to mitigate the security threats in the region. “We are working to make the courts, police, and other democratic institutions work independently” he noted. 

The president asserted that underlying the current security crisis in the region lies political problems. The interim regional government’s attempts to separate government and party lines, according to Getachew, has been perceived as an “anti-TPLF” approach, posing challenges to his administration.

He explained that there are zones and districts that are not willing to be governed under the interim administration and as a result obstructing the administration’s activities.

“There is an organized movement to prevent the interim administration from creating its structures in the zones and districts. This mainly affects the people. What is important is to conclude the work of the interim administration and raise our trust with the federal government to a higher level despite our differences and create a situation where the government elected by the people takes power,” Getachew highlighted.

He went on and said without giving further details that there are entities that allocate budgets and work to obstruct the work of the interim administration. He said that “there are prisons that the government does not know about”. 

“We have started taking measures against those who are behind and who committed human rights violations. We will continue to arrest them in the next few days in a campaign. There are people kidnapping people for ransom money, they kidnap Eritreans. Not only Eritreans, but also natives of the region who hail from rich families are being kidnapped,” he revealed.

According to the president, the perpetrators of these crimes have been operating under the guise of different government structures, posing as intelligence officers and workers of various organizations. “It took us a long time to investigate, but starting today, and in the coming days, we will work to bring them to justice,” the president emphasized.

Furthermore, he stated that works are underway, in agreement with the federal government, to restore the Tigray regional state to the pre-war state and return displaced persons to their homes in accordance with the Pretoria agreement and the country’s constitution. 

With regard to the embezzlement of food aid in the region leading to the suspension of food aid distribution, Getachew said more than 480 people who were suspected of coordinating the theft of food aid have been arrested. AS

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