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TPLF leadership are flirting with the idea of forging an alliance with Asmara to launch another round of conflict.

Mekelle:  19 February 2024 (Tigray Herald)

A document spreaded from the Ethiopian government to the international diplmatic community.

TPLF leadership are flirting with the idea of forging an alliance with Asmara to launch another round of conflict.

Implementation of the Pretoria Agreement

Background
The Pretoria Agreement has been successful in silencing the guns and ending the bloodshed in northern Ethiopia. We believe that the permanent cessation of hostilities put in place through the agreement has been instrumental in saving the lives of our compatriots.
In addition to putting an end to the conflict the agreement has also paved the way for the provision of humanitarian aid in the Tigray region, the resumption of essential services, and the commencement of the rehabilitation of the regional economy and administration.
We believe that what has been achieved within the framework of the Pretoria agreement is substantial and important. However, we still have some serious concerns with the pace of the implementation of the agreement and also some recent developments that seem to undermine both the spirit and letter of the agreement.
Before delving into the details of the agreement, we want to reiterate the unwavering commitment of the FDRE Government for peace and for political dialogue.
It is with this commitment that the FDRE Government on more than one occasion during the course of the conflict declared a unilateral truce. But on both occasions the truce declared by the Government was rebuffed or callously violated by the TPLF.
Particularly the third round of the conflict was launched in August 2022 by the TPLF while the GoE was pleading with international partners to exert pressure on TPLF to desist from violence and come to the negotiating table. At that point in time, unfortunately some opted to echo the threats being made by the TPLF instead of calling for restraint.

The TPLF acceded to reality and accepted the peace offer for peace in Pretoria because it was dealt a decisive blow on the battlefield.

After the Pretoria agreement has been signed, the Federal Government has done its level best to live up to its commitment under the agreement. In fact, we have gone above and beyond our obligations under the agreement in many respects.
Not only has the Federal Government put an end to hostile rhetoric against the TPLF, but it has also tried in every way possible to promote a spirit of reconciliation, solidarity and fraternity.

This has been demonstrated by the massive amount of financial and material support the Federal Government tried to mobilize for the rehabilitation of the Tigray region from other regional states and federal agencies. These support from various sectoral agencies as well as regional states is estimated to be around 37 billion Birr. It goes to 45 billion if that of public enterprises could be factored in.
More than the amount of support, what is important in our view is the spirit and sentiment behind this support. It was a gesture of goodwill and solidarity.
This desire to put a permanent end to the conflict was demonstrated in various ways. For instance, although the prosperity party was entitled to have at least as equal number of seats in the interim administration of the Tigray region as tplf, the leadership of the Federal Government decided that these seats should be yielded to the TPLF to build trust and confidence.
Further more, Ethiopian National Defense Forces refrained from entering Mekele and left strategic positions though it is entitled by the constitution and underlined by the Pretoria agreement only to enhance trust.
High level visits from officials of the federal government to the region including the Speaker of the House, the quick resumption of essential services including electricity, telecom and banking at a huge expense to the concerned enterprises and by diverting resources from other parts of the country that were in dire need of these services; all of these was done to provide our compatriots in the region a peace dividend and give a boost to the peace constituency in the region.
The Federal Government has also lifted the terrorist designation of the TPLF despite the lack of progress in the DDR process to facilitate TPLF’s return to national political life. The Government has also dropped the charges and put a halt to the judicial processes against the TPLF leadership and their sizable assets.
The GoE, despite the huge backlash from some constituencies, has also taken a principled stand regarding the areas subject to contention between the Tigray and Amhara regional states. The Federal Government has not done what is politically expedient. We are trying to do the right thing. We are trying to resolve this issue in a durable, lawful and peaceful manner in accordance with the FDRE Constitution.

The Constitution and the relevant legislation enacted under the constitution, provides a procedure for the settlement of disputes about the administrative boundaries of regional states or the identity of the population of a particular area. In both situations, the mechanism the law prescribes to settle the disputes is through a referendum. These were laws enacted when the TPLF was in charge at the center. These are the rules and the procedures they have laid down. 
The Federal Government has laid out a clear and sensible roadmap for the settlement of the issue of the contested areas. The first step is the assumption of  security and law enforcement responsibilities in these areas by the Federal Government. This is important to provide a secure environment for the return of IDPs and for the communities in these areas to freely choose their leaders.
The second step in the process will be the selection of local administrators by the local community to provide day to day administrative services in these localities. Then, once the security situation in these areas has become stable and the communities in these localities are in a position to make a free and informed choice, a referendum could be held in accordance with the requirements of the relevant legislation. 
Therefore, on this issue as well, we are committed to the implementation of the Pretoria agreement and we have shown our readiness by taking concrete steps. For instance, in the Raya area, federal representatives have held community dialogues to gauge the sentiment of the local community as to how this issue should be resolved. The local residents overwhelmingly support the path forward charted by the Federal Government. They have also facilitated the return of some IDPS in line with this roadmap. But, but Tigray IRA seems to be hijacked by some tplf old guards who loathe to see tranquillity but bent on fishing in a murky water.

*Current situation and our Concerns*

One of the pillars of the Pretoria agreement is the disarmament of TPLF combatants. The Federal Government has set up an institution to facilitate this process and appointed a senior TPLF leader as a deputy commissioner within this institution. However, the TPLF is dragging its feet on disarmament. The delay on disarmament is a very serious cause for concern.
The TPF’s excuses to delay the DDR process is undermining confidence and it is raising some serious questions about its commitment for peace.
These concerns are also being aggravated by some recent developments. Some TPLF officials are being heard referring to the federal government as the “enemy” and providing “analysis” about how vulnerable and stretched the Federal Government is and how they should use this opportunity to strike.  Some even dare approach the Eritrean military and leadership in spite of official accusations for atrocities committed, and excuses of Eritrean presence at border areas for not disarming as per the agreement though doing nothing about it while still keeping more than 200000 combatants.
This talk of a possible fourth round of conflict is also being fueled those who are broaching the possibility of the TPLF receiving support from the Government of Eritrea. We have credible intelligence that some with in the TPLF leadership are flirting with the idea of forging an alliance with Asmara to launch another round of conflict.
In light of these developments, we are seriously concerned.

Partners should  take a clear and firm stand in favor of peace, in a way that would dissuade be it the TPLF or the Government of Eritrea from engaging in conduct that would undermine the Pretoria agreement.
Provide both political and material support for the DDR process.
We are concerned that the coddling and unduly sympathetic approach the international community has adopted towards the TPLF has the unintended effect of enabling its chronic belligerence.
The recent 60 plus days marathon meeting of the senior TPLF leadership has shown the political bankruptcy and leadership crises of the organization. It also defies aspirations of our people in Tigray.

The old guard/hardliners still seem to have a lot of sway and have managed to reverse the democratic and deliberative process through other tactics /underhanded means.
Tplf failed to ensure accountability with in itself as opposed to attempts of government.

Ordinary people in the region are fed up and disappointed by the lack of political accountability and new ideas within the TPLF. The old guard of the TPLF are finding it difficult to manage this public discontent. We are afraid that they might try to get out of this political predicament by raising the possibility of the resumption of hostilities and escalating tensions.
TPLF is an organization prone to miscalculation.  It often underestimates its adversaries and overestimates its capabilities. It also has a tendency to misread the political reality in Ethiopia. Asmara seems to be deliberately nurturing these tendencies as well.

*Our Ask*
We call upon our friends and partners to help us push tplf to refrain from engaging in a reckless and deadly violation of the Pretoria agreement which will have a devastating consequence.
We also believe that it is time to call out the government of Eritrea for the destabilizing role it is playing in Ethiopia. We have been very restrained on this regard. Our hope was that through bilateral engagements we could make Asmara see the error of its ways. Unfortunately, we have not succeeded in that effort.
The Government of Eritrea is arming and training all sort of extremist and violent groups in Ethiopia. This cynical and hostile acts against Ethiopia cannot go on indefinitely. We would like to work with the international community on how we can restrain and contain such moves. We would like to avoid conflict and violence. We are open to your suggestions and advice on this issue.

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