Complete withdrawal of the Eritrean army and the Amhara militia from Tigray is key for peace in Ethiopia
By Addis Moges
Tigrai Online 11/14/2022
Mediators and negotiators should consider the questions of the people of Tigray
The signed peace agreement has been entertaining the inevitable challenges in its implementation. Different rejections have observed following the peace agreement on Permanent Cessation of Hostilities and war which was signed by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Tigray peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) on November 2, 2022 in South Africa, Pretoria. (Note: both the TPLF and the Tigrai government rejected the claim TPLF signed the agreements in South Africa and in Kenya. The Tigrai government said it signed both agreements.)
As a sequel to that agreement, the topmost military leaders of Tigray General Tadesse Worede and Field Marshal Berhanu Julla have also signed on ways of implementing the agreements signed previously on Kenya, Nairobi.
However, some of the articles in the agreement get no acceptance by the elites, political parties, and diaspora of Tigray for various reasons. They believe that there must be a complete withdrawal of the Eritrean army and the Amhara militia from Tigray.
At the point in time, the Eritrean Defense Force has not only controlled a large area in Tigray but also deploying additional army divisions to Western Tigray after the CoHA was signed. It was recalled that the Eritrean army, along with other allies, was invited by the federal government to lend a hand in the fight against the people of Tigray, a region in the country with over seven million people. The federal government along with its accomplices have been exerting all their capacity to end the war with victory, but eventually they found it impossible as Tigray Defense Force (TDF) emanated from the people aiming to prevent the genocide waged against Tigray. The point is TPLF got votes of the people and formed a regional government that was serving until the allied forces controlled the Mekelle. Then, decided to continue their guerrilla fighting having mobilize the people. It was because of this process that TDF was born, grew up and matured, and wiped the invading forces out of Tigray.
According to some political analysts, the war has claimed the lives of nearly one million people and the destruction of all properties available in the region has been plundered or destroyed. Millions of people were displaced and subjected to sufferings. The Eritrea government was/is the most active participant in the two years’ war and economic blockage.
Now that, the signed peace accord incorporated a binding article stating foreign countries to withdraw from Tigray immediately.
In fact, this is pivotal for implementing the signed agreement. This is what the Tigrayans protest against even after the good news for peace. The signed peace pact counted ten days so far. But the Eritrean Army and the Amhara militia are still in Tigray. They have occupied Adwa, Shire, Humara, Walker, Alamata, Korem and other cities. Despite the peace agreement to ensure security to the people of Tigray, Eritrea has been abominating, abusing and murdering Tigrayans having refused to withdraw from Tigray. Resources indicated that additional Eritrean army is deploying to Tigray after the accord has been signed.
The state of Eritrea is one of the major obstacles in implementing the signed peace deal. Unless the Ethiopian government can compel the Eritrean army to move out of Tigray, how can we expect Tigrayans to support the peace agreement? How could we develop confidence to talk about the disarmament of TDF? It is really illogical. The first and most important action that the federal government must accomplish is compelling the Eritrean army to leave Tigray as soon as possible. If the federal government cannot do this, obviously the signed peace pact will be obstructed.
The people of Tigray have experienced the sufferings, abominations, and murders by those allied forces. In the first place, they want to see the back of the Eritrean army who have committed most of the crimes in the region. In the second place, they need time so that they can develop confidence even in the Ethiopian army. It is obvious that there are no Tigrayans in the Ethiopian Defense Forces. If Tigray is to be part of Ethiopia, Tigrayans soldiers who were in Tigray or behind the bars in different parts of Ethiopia must regain their former place in the Ethiopian army. Unless this has become a reality, the protest against the disarmament of TDF seems quite logical and right.
All Tigrayans have confidence in TDF for their security. They believe TDF belongs to the people, not to TPLF and, of course, that is the reality on the ground.
However, neither the mediators nor the negotiators comprehend the very interest of the people of Tigray and the nature of the TDF. Everyone everywhere must know that no one can be able to decide on the future status of TDF, but the people of Tigray, both at home and abroad, along with all political parties in Tigray.
That is why TPLF officials coerced to declare the reality on the ground. The announcement sounds right that TPLF has no combatants and amendment is necessary to the disputing phrase.
Expressing on certain articles of the signed peace pact doesn’t mean rejecting the entire peace agreement. Most Tigrayans accept the peace deal. They also believe that the problems could only be solved via peaceful negotiations. The decision makers on whether Tigray is to resume being one of the regions in Ethiopia are the entire people of Tigray through referendum.
There are tendencies to use the media for diplomatic purposes. For instance in the past few days the Ethiopian government via its media announced that aid is flowing to Tigray with no impediments and the people have become beneficiary. However, the people know the fact. If there is aid in Tigray, the people will witness and if there is no aid they can witness.
But according to residents in some areas of Tigray occupied by the federal government witnesses who preferred to remain anonymous said that the media continued its lies that there is no aid so far. In addition to the local people, aid agencies who are inside Tigrai said there was no aid delivery in Tigrai by the Ethiopian government since CoHA was signed.
They argued that had the government been committed enough, it could have supported government employees who haven’t got salaries for the past solid year in its firs stride, but nothing is on the ground. If there is nothing at the grassroots, how could the people believe the practicability of the peace accord?
The reason why the people of Tigray accept the other Articles in the signed peace pact is the fact that if the two parts agrees on the reapplying of the constitution as a principal document, they get the opportunity to decide peacefully either to resume with Ethiopia or riven. They can peacefully use Articles 39 of the constitution in deciding on their future fate.
Besides, if the constitution is to serve as a principal document the Eritrean army is an invader that violates Ethiopian sovereignty, not only Tigray region shouldn’t be there. In other words, all Ethiopians should stand against this conqueror no matter who invited them.
However, the paradox is the federal government wants to disarm TDF with the shortest possible time but doesn’t want or cannot force the withdrawal of the Eritrean army from Tigray. Unless they leave Tigray, the people will be subjected insecurity that is why what Tigrayans argument is right.
The mediators and negotiators should comprehend the very questions of the people of Tigray and must act accordingly. They want all invading armies to quit their land, displaced people return to their villages, get unhindered humanitarian aid, get access to their own money locked in banks, and get basic communication access.
The people of Tigray either at home or abroad, could support the signed peace deal if things mentioned above are fulfilled. And if they believe in it, Tigrayans are loyal to their words that they will cooperate for the implementations.
Therefore, it is mandatory for the mediators and the federal government to first work on the withdrawal of the Eritrean army by any means. Besides, they must show their commitments by ensuring what the people of Tigray have been denied of their rights so that they can develop confidence in what is going on and cooperate for implementing the signed peace agreement. If this is not the case, no matter whoever signs on the peace agreement, it is the people who eventually decide.
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Joint Statement between the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia & the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front -TPLF
Thus, Ethiopia has only one national defense force. We have also agreed on a detailed program of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration for the TPLF combatants, taking into account the security situation on the ground.