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Ethiopian Federal Government Discrimination Towards Tigrai Region

By Muuz Hadush (PhD)
Tigrai Online May 28, 2020

Abiy Ahmed’s discrimination against Tigrai people

As you may recall, Dr. Abyi Ahmed came to power on March 24, 2018 after a series of violent mass demonstration mainly in Oromo and Amhara in Ethiopia. The then ruling party, EPRDF was a coalition of 4 parties. Among these parties, TPLF is one of the founder member of the coalition. The reality is that TPLF as member of the coalition have supported the premiership of Abyi Ahmed in the country. Moreover, the PM made his first visit to Tigrai next to his first visit to Somali and Ambo, Oromia. He got a warm welcome and people were very positive towards him. The expectation was that he will maintain the economic growth and peace of the country. However soon after assuming his power, on June 22, 2018 he started to defame all the good works that have been done by EPRDF on the last 27 years. This is the first bad impression we had on him. From that onwards, he continued to blackmail TPLF and even the people of Tigrai. He started a real political and economics discrimination against Tigrai and its people.

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For the moment leaving political discrimination aside, this short message is mainly about economics discrimination made by the federal government in the last two years.  The economic discrimination precisely is presented as under:

1. The first discrimination that we can mention is against the Federal Project Baeker Industrial park located in Western zone of Tigrai. The project is one of the batch of 10 Sugar factories launched before some years, based on its feasibility and economic return, not based on population ratio. However, in the last two years Federal Project resource disbursement has been linked to the ratio of Tigrai vis a vis National population, like food voucher for households.  Accordingly, budget allocation to the project remained around 6% of the annual budget earmarked to National Industrial Bank Projects.  As a result  the budget allocated this year was 2 million birr, which is a drop compared with the initial budget indicated in the project document.   

2. The second discrimination reveals in the form of suspending the railway project extended from Djibouti -Weldya (Amhara region) to Mekelle. While half the project from Djibouti to Weldya is more or less completed, the second phase from Weldya to Mekelle was stranded and nearly ignored. 

3. The third and the most disappointing phenomena is blocking all investment opportunities using their Federal power. For instance the first experience was to ban traveling of Chinese’s investment group to Tigrai. Chinese investment delegates were disembarked by security forces from their Addis-Mekelle flight. The stupid thing is that when Tigrai officials requested the federal government for any explanation of that, no authority from the federal including the PM within the parliament hull wanted to give any brief reason of that. It still remains a secret for all of us. In fact, the people of Tigrai know it. The decision is to crash the economic investment in Tigrai and let the people of Tigrai protest against TPLF for it will cause high inflation and unemployment in the region. The investment group from Turkish also faced the same experience after a Turkish investment team declare a project of 7 Billion in Adi-gudem East South of Mekelle. This is also a sad news to be told

4. Since local investors get foreign currency from the national bank of the country when they want to import goods from abroad, they face a serious challenge from the national bank. There are many obstacles made by the federal. A number of length appointment is given to Tigrian investors and bribe money are requested to pay for the service. This is the point of frustration for many investors.

5. The Tekeze hydro power and “Ashegoda” near Mekelle wind power are not generating power in their full scale due to maintenance failure and payment dalliance to a French company, who install the wind power plant.

6. Tegaru investors are facing a serious of problems in getting a credit access from development banks for their investment. This delays further the establishment of any factory or project and leads to so many frustration among investors in the region.

7. Soon after assuming his power, no single federal project is allocated to Tigrai (No hospital, No school, No road, No railway, No hydro power etc) except there ius a single road project which extends from Alitena to Edaga –Hamus.

8. Tegaru investors living in Adis Ababa are forced to pay for prosperity party more than they can pay. The disappointing thing is that when there is a development call from Tigrai region and wants to responds for that call, the federal government is threatening them for their contribution.

9. The transport road to Tigrai through Weldya (Amhara) line has been blocked in the last two years. The federal government has intentionally supported this road blockage and the region right now reaches Adis-Abeba through Afar line by paying an extra cost per single trip.

10. Another economic conspiracy is the closure of Eritrean refugee camp in Western Tigrai. The intension of this was, by closing this camp, the Eritrean migrants are assumed to stay in Tigrai and their stay creates an economic pressure/burden in the region through the increment of inflation and unemployment. Then, this economic pressure is expected to leads to violent demonstration against TPLF. 

Finally, the federal government right now is without Tigrean minster representation. The PM has personally selected two Tegraru minsters on the basis of their stand towards TPLF and they are not actual representors of the region. They are there as a citizen of the country.  This is to imply that any federal project or resource allocation is unfair and discriminatory. For instance, there are many aids for the incidence of Covid-19 but no single dollar is allocated to Tigrai region. The same is true that the region did not get any development funds from the federal in the last two years.

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