Viewpoint

A post-TPLF Tigray and the Tigrayan diaspora

The Tigrayan diaspora must engage in the restoration of Tigray as a stable, peaceful, and prosperous region.

In  2019, the ruling front merged into a single party and became the Prosperity Party (PP). TPLF, however, declined the merger, and this resulted in an ever-increasing gap between Tigray and the federal government.

The gap reached the point of no return when TPLF defied the federal government’s postponement of the 2020 general elections due to COVID-19 spread and held regional elections in Tigray on 9 September. The federal government rightly deemed the election illegal and unconstitutional.

Finally, on 4 November, Tigray regional forces attacked bases of the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) northern command. This treasonous act marked the beginning of the long coming war.

On 28 November, federal troops captured Mekelle, the region’s capital, and claimed victory. Although the war has not completely ceased, TPLF is no longer in power, its leaders are being captured, and the National Election Board of Ethiopia made the decision of canceling its license for participating in rebellion.

A new, provisional administration has been established in the region, and this indicates the beginning of attempts to return to normalcy. The new administration has started discussions with the local people and is facilitating the re-opening of public services.

While all this is an encouraging start, realizing a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Tigray remains a challenge.

At the heart of the challenge is the trauma of the war, but also the affinity that a significant number of Tigrayans have for TPLF.

Many Tigrayans seem shocked and saddened by the dramatic fall of TPLF, a sole party that they knew for almost half a century. The dire humanitarian crisis that followed the war has also shattered them. Many are in a state of melancholy, confusion, and anger.

Accordingly, for Tigrayans in the region, it is remarkably difficult to rapidly adjust to a post-TPLF Tigray. Furthermore, there are prime beneficiaries and ardent supporters of TPLF who might hinder the adjustment.

More crucial and worrying, however, is solving the humanitarian crisis and overcoming the war trauma. Various reports coming out of the region are now showing that internal displacement, migration, shortage of food, and lack of other basic needs are widespread. Tigrayans living in the region are suffering.

Thus, the first step towards restoration ought to be solving this widespread crisis. For this to happen, the government should give independent media and aid agencies adequate access to the region. We cannot solve the crisis without knowing its magnitude.

Sadly, so far, we don’t even have accurate, official information regarding combatants’ death and civilian fatalities. This lack of access to the region has rightly concerned the international community, and it should concern us too.

Those internally and externally displaced should get all the assistance they need, and they should return to their hometowns. Internet, electric power, water, telephone, and bank services should also be restored as soon as possible. With the help of the federal government, the interim administration is doing its best to this end, but there are many remaining jobs.

Without this, it could be difficult for any post-TPLF administration of the region to gain the trust of locals. As peace and stability cannot be guaranteed without the public trusting the government engaged in restoring peace and stability, it is crucial to work on gaining the trust of everyday Tigrayans in the region.

The future of the land dispute Tigray has with the Amhara region and the involvement of Eritrea in the war could be major obstacles for the new regional administration. Eritrea’s involvement is a crucial subject that calls for deep analysis, which I won’t go into in this piece. At any rate, the federal government needs to address these issues swiftly and fairly in order to gain the trust of Tigrayans as well as the wider national and international communities.

The ethnic profiling of Tigrayans outside of the region could also be another obstacle. However, by starting from providing basic assistance to those in need and opening access to the region, the government can gradually gain the trust of Tigrayans.

Such attempts towards restoration, however, cannot be fruitful without the help of the Tigrayan diaspora.

The Tigrayan diaspora community is resourceful and has the potential to facilitate restoration. Sadly, however, it appears that the majority in the Tigray diaspora community are not taking timely and collective action to take advantage of the unfolding new opportunity to shape the future of Tigray for the better. There may be exceptions of few individuals and small groups carrying out small-scale support. The situation, however, requires the concerted efforts of many Tigrayans in the diaspora.

The sudden, unexpected collapse of TPLF has sparked emotions of confusion and uncertainty in the diaspora, just like it did with Tigrayans in Tigray.

In fact, some in the diaspora may be thinking that, after TPLF’s fall, there is no future for Tigray as a member of the Ethiopian federation. There is also the view that the federal government is the sole culprit, and that the war is waged against Tigrayans.

This, however, cannot be further from the truth.

We are where we are now because of the accumulated wrongdoings of the TPLF old guards, who have fuelled discontents and created their own enemies on every corner. It is, therefore, not surprising that the enemies that they created led them to their demise. It is TPLF that is to be primarily blamed for its own destruction and the situation in Tigray.

Therefore, the Tigrayan diaspora must accept this truth and fully engage in the restoration of Tigray. There is a new opportunity for Tigray, and the diaspora ought to distance itself from old rhetoric and TPLF propaganda to seize the opportunity.

Ordinary Tigrayans also suffered under the tight control of TPLF, and they deserve a break from the old shackles and build a new, free life. They should contribute their part in building a new, democratic Ethiopia. And, in this journey, the help of the Tigrayan diaspora is much needed.

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Main photo: Part of Mekelle Martyrs’ Monument; 24 November 2015.

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About the author

Samuel Ayele Bekalo

Samuel is a UK-based research fellow and doctorate holder. He is a consultant who works in development, science education, and immigration, and has lived and worked across East Africa.

17 Comments

  • Yes I agree TDF is beating the hell out of Ethiopian forces the country accounts is being severely depleted. And Iam a TPLF supporter they were legally elected and that’s final.

  • When will we Ethiopians get to know that we are the enemy of ourselves and no foreign enemy did what we have been doing to ourselves? It seems the century old cycle of violence and killing will continue for the times to come unless we all come to our senses and civilise once and forall!

  • The author is correct that “The sudden, unexpected collapse of TPLF has sparked emotions of confusion and uncertainty in the diaspora, just like it did with Tigrayans in Tigray”. All discussions and comments from the diaspora Weyanes and TPLF dia-hard members/supports are still emotional and they could not grasp the current situation in Tigray and Ethiopia. Even though I don’t agree with Isaias Afwerki’s policies and his governance, he has masterly punished them after waiting for 2 decades like Fredrick the Great did in Germany, who, by most, was probably the greatest tactical and strategical war decision-maker in history.

  • The author seems clueless and less informed about what is happening in Tigray. He states “The sudden, unexpected collapse of TPLF has sparked emotions of confusion and uncertainty in the diaspora, just like it did with Tigrayans in Tigray”
    There is no confusion my dear friend. Nobody elects a government for Tigray, but the Tigrean people. The Tigran people have overwhelmingly elected TPLF as its governing party. It is undemocratic to forcefully remove an elected government and replace it with a puppet administrator. By now it is quite clear to all the Tigrian people that Tigray and the rest of Ethiopia (especially Amhara) can not co-exist. Whether the author likes it or not, Tigray will come out as a strong and independent nation.

  • Eritrean will not pull out in fact they said they will stay until they control all disputed land . They reject fair deal including west tigray is fully control by amhara military and raya by federal government. tigray conflict is s high independent is high even if all disputed land are lost.

  • The tigray diaspora should collaborate with the government? Are you sure? ethiopians govt is our killer…. bring forign countries such as eritrea,Somalia and UAE to the feild of tigray kill our civilians. Ethiopian goverment is using Hunger as weapon So who in earth will collaborate with this government.Tell your government to open a humanitarian corridors that is tigray people needs at this time.
    Finally your analysis is poor!!!!!

  • Ethiopia Genocide Tigray. Never ever Tigray will be the same with Ethiopia, specially Ethiopia under Genocidal Abiy Ahmed. He waging war over Tigray people jointly with Eritrea, Somalia, UAE drones & Amhara gangs fano & militia, special forces from all regions. Abiy let Isaias Afeworki to destroy Tigray, Extrajudicial killings, rape & looting. Mass hunger weaponized Genocide. Impeded humanitarian access & independence investigation. Why b/c he knows all the atrocities he have done on the people of Tigray. More over, the hidden agenda of law & order is to scrambled Tigray – West & South Tigray under Amhara, vast area of north Tigray Eritrea, some part of south East Tigray Afar. So what is going on? to weaken Tigray people as they are telling us for the next 100 years by dismantling Tigray out of map. Do not full yourself TPLF will not disappear as you think. May be its leaders could die which is not new for Tigray people. But the people will not give up struggle for self determination & administration with out Abiy Ahmed. The people will never ever accept Abiy’s puppet. The good news is TPLF already survived & the people of Tigray now knows very well who Abiy & his satellites. Hunger, death, imprisonment & hardship is not new for Tigrayans. At the end people will win. Tigray will prevail!

  • It seems to be written with a good intention, but pls answer the following logical fallacies:
    “With the help of the federal government, the interim administration is doing its best to this end” Any evidence for this assertion? what has it delivered so far?

    “Various reports coming out of the region are now showing that internal displacement, migration, shortage of food, and lack of other basic needs are widespread. Tigrayans living in the region are suffering”
    How do you reconcile the coherence fallacy with your assertion of restored normalcy by the provisional government?

    The sudden, unexpected collapse of TPLF has sparked emotions of confusion and uncertainty in the diaspora, just like it did with Tigrayans in Tigray.” Does that mean TPLF has won the popular vote and legitimate in Tigrai?

    Whose mandate is it to decide who has to rule the people of Tigrai?

    • As long as you keep your rebellion to yourself and not ride illegally to other parts of Ethiopia, you can have 100 Weyane groups. The horn of Africa can’t deal with your problems anymore.

      • Actually, it is apparent that the Amhara elite is the source of all problems in Ethiopia. Amhara elites are claiming territory from (i) Benshangul (ii) Oromia (iii) Afar (iii) Tigray and (iv) Sudan. How is it possible to live with the Amharas peacefully with this type of mentality? Tigray is better off without the Amharas. Tigray will declare its full independence shortly, and the rest of Ethiopia will live in turmoil.

  • Simple and true. The diaspora must accept the fact that Woyanne is gone. If they really care about Tigray, then they should collaborate with the government and provide assistance to the needy. The Eritreans would pull out eventually after the few remaining old guards are brought to justice.

    • I think this is wishful thinking on your part. Tigrian fighters have cut the huge Ethiopian army to 15% of its original size, so much so that Sudan has overrun a good chunk of the Amhara and Ethiopia is begging for a peaceful resolution. The Eritrean army is gradually bleeding under intense TDF beating and it will soon be defeated. Woyane is riding in victory and Tigray will be free soon.

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