Concerning the Rights of the Ethiopian Government

August 27, 2021

By Addissu Admas

Since the war against the TPLF started on November 4 last year, the Federal Government of Ethiopia (from here forward FGE), headed by PM Abiy, has been treated virtually like an illegitimate or even roguish government, and its actions condemned as examples of aberration of power. Before I submit my arguments to show the absurdity of this condemnation, let me premise them by stating what is most obvious to the Ethiopian people:

Until proven otherwise, the FGE is a legitimate government installed by the majority will of the Ethiopian people through an electoral process that has largely been praised as the most transparent and fair in Ethiopian history. On the other hand, the TPLF has been declared a terrorist organization by the House of Representatives for its brazen and unprovoked attack of the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Federal Defense Force (EDF). Even though it has been declared to be so prior to the election, the newly installed House of Representatives continues to consider the TPLF a terrorist organization. Thus, the Western governments and media attempt to draw equivalency between the FGE and the TPLF is not only erroneous and misleading, but muddies the issues at hand. 

In the following, I want to state in as clear a manner as I can what are within the powers of the FGE and the TPLF, and what the laws, national or otherwise, do not allow them to do.

First, it is within the power of the FGE, as a legitimately installed government, to maintain the sovereignty of the country. This includes maintaining the territorial integrity of the country and squelching seditious acts that would weaken, compromise or even destroy the integrity of the nation. On the other hand, nowhere in our present constitution does it state that the government of a Killil (region) can wage war against the Federal government if it finds itself at odds with it for real or imagined “injury”. It declares instead that a Killil can, through universal suffrage, petition to secede and become an autonomous state.

Secondly, the TPLF’s attack on the Northern Command was unprovoked and not incited by present or imminent danger. It was simply motivated by the TPLF’s determination to halt and impede the FGE’s effort to bring to justice scores of its members. As every person who has followed Ethiopian politics in the past three decades knows, the TPLF’s regime, which also lasted for nearly three decades, was known for its truculence, corruption, venality, divisiveness, and oppression. It is an established fact that hundreds, if not thousands of its members have in effect plundered the FGE coffers and aid money to enrich themselves, their organizations, relatives and friends. Any government worth its salt, and especially one with a genuine aspiration to establish democracy in this ancient land, has the moral obligation to its people to bring to justice all those who have obscenely abused their power and committed crimes against the State and its people. Not doing so would have only perpetuated a culture of impunity and unaccountability at every end of a regime. 

Thirdly, the FGE’s objective against the TPLF in Tigray was succinctly presented as a “law enforcement campaign”. I would challenge anyone who would want to characterize it otherwise. What would any government do if it sees its military being attacked by an armed group? If it is a small group, the local or federal police would handle it, but if it is as large as the TPLF, then sending the military to squash the seditious act is not only legal, but not doing so would be tantamount to dereliction of duty. If the January 6th mob was allowed unhampered into the Capitol, killed at will and stopped the electoral count, how would the world have viewed the government of the US? Not only the rioters were eventually stopped, but a vigorous campaign followed to bring them to justice. The FGE was very much in the same predicament. Yet the Biden administration influenced no doubt by the remnants of the Obama “foreign policy personnel” chose to judge Ethiopia by a different standard; the one usually applied to Third World countries. 

Fourth, it is within the right of the FGE to arrest, prosecute and sentence not only all the members of the TPLF as members of a terroristic organization, but also its collaborators, informers, financiers, etc… Furthermore, it has the right to seize, freeze, and transfer to the Federal Treasury all its assets, monetary instruments, foreign accounts, etc… The FGE is not motivated, nor has acted as the evidence clearly shows, by tribalist, ethnocentric calculations as it has been accused, but by the desire to stop the TPLF from getting away with its horrible deeds, ill-gotten wealth that is  enabling  it currently to sustain its illegal and destructive war. 

The idle and sensationalist Western media has accused the FGE of arresting and imprisoning arbitrarily Tigreans living primarily in Addis Ababa. This chatter, as far as the evidence shows, is not only mendacious but also criminally irresponsible. If the West is getting its information from the TPLF and its army of propagandists and sympathizers, we might as well be re-living Rwanda! The truth of the matter is that the FGE is conducting a serious and professional investigation into the crimes, finances, and shady international connections of the TPLF. Indeed, it has taken this task with utmost seriousness. 

Fifth. What business does the TPLF have attacking Tigray’s neighboring Killils? Since the EDF withdrew from Mekele by unilaterally declaring a cease-fire, the TPLF has not stopped raiding, pillaging and murdering Amhara and Afar village and towns’ people. Its excuse: the FGE has discontinued electric power and other services, and impeded the flow of foreign aid into its territory. The truth: it clearly wants to unseat the legitimately installed government of PM Abiy Ahmed and work its way back to power through allying itself with other rogue forces in the country. To this end, it is not only mobilizing the people of Tigray, but even the US State Department and the foreign services of the various European countries. If neither the US nor the EU have the perspicacity to see TPLF’s ruse, the FGE has indeed the right to seek help anywhere it could find it to maintain the unity and stability of Ethiopia. This is not a matter of capricious preference, but one of survival. 

Finally, since the TPLF is implying that it is the only legitimately installed government in Tigray – though a dubious and questionable suggestion in itself– it would be within its power to call upon all Tigreans, not only in Tigray, but also in Ethiopia as well as abroad, to decide through universal suffrage whether Tigray should remain part of Ethiopia or become an independent, autonomous State. However, it does not have the power to demand that the government of PM Abiy, which has been installed legitimately by the majority vote of the Ethiopian people in this last election, to be removed and a transitional government be formed in its stead. This is not only an absurd demand, but one bordering on the ridiculous: in effect, the TPLF is contradicting the dictates of the very Constitution it virtually drafted!

Western governments and media are either acting in bad faith, or are dismally ill informed by their so-called experts in pursuing such misguided policies towards the FGE. The people of Ethiopia have never been asked what they really want. As usual, the West continues to believe that it only knows what is best for us. The fact is that it is us who must ultimately decide what our future should be.  

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