GSTS’ Public Statement on Priorities and ActionableRecommendations Based on Relevant Studies and Stakeholder

Mekelle:  10 April 2024 (Tigray Herald)

GSTS’ Public Statement on Priorities and ActionableRecommendations Based on Relevant Studies and Stakeholder

Engagement (Mission Report)


This mission report is the result of GSTS’ recent engagements and deliberations and is aimedprimarily to provide actionable recommendations that help Tigray overcome the currentsocial, economic, and political deadlock. However, it is necessary to remind ourselves thatthe past three decades were not only ones of failure and disappointment that to led to thecurrent crisis but also various successful achievements, strengths and assets that will helpbuild upon in order to bring the necessary change.

The Success and Challenges of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) andthe Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in Ethiopia: ABrief Retrospective

The TPLF played a pivotal role in Ethiopia’s modern history, particularly in organizing apopular resistance and the successful struggle against the military dictatorship of the Dergregime. Over a span of 17 years, the TPLF, along with other movements mobilized themasses, established responsive local governmentsliberated areas, promised a peaceful,just, and prosperous system, garnered mass support, and controlled swathes of areas one ata time and finally defeated the military junta. In the wake of this monumental victory, the TPLFalong with other partner movements established a coalition, the EPRDF. TPLF played anirreplaceable role in the creation of EPRDF and thus its subsequent notable success stories.Since then, EPRDF embarked on an audacious endeavor: the enactment of a federalconstitution that gave new and sovereign rights to ethnic groups, characterized bydecentralization and member-state autonomy.

Under the stewardshipthe EPRDF, the government delivered on its promises of peace inthe region, preventing famine, economic development, and empowering ethnic groups.Ethiopia bore witnessan era of unparalleled stability in the Horn of Africa, and economicprogress and prosperity spanning 27 transformative years of development. EPRDFchampioned an array of initiatives aimed at catalyzing economic growth through massiveinfrastructure development nationwide. Ethiopia emerged as a beacon of economicadynamism, being one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and achieving global recognitionfor its remarkable strides.


Moreover, the EPRDF made significant investments in vital social sectors, most notablyeducation and healthcare. The expansion of access to universal primary education, multifoldaincrease in girls’ education and high school enrollment, scores of new universities andahundreds of private colleges, democratized access to higher education and empoweringEthiopians from all corners of the nation. Concurrently, the innovative Health ExtensionProgram brought essential healthcare services, including maternal and child health, to remoterural communities, catalyzing a notable reduction in mortality rates, increasing life expectancyby more than 20 years, and reducing poverty by half.

However, amidst these triumphs lay simmering challenges, particularly in the realmsdemocratization, human rights violations, state-party separation, the concentration ofeconomic and political power in Addis, broken promises of regional autonomy and unrealizedconstitutional frameworks for the separationpower and co-equality of the branchesgovernment. Moreover, some of the political reforms were not satisfactory. Inadequatedemocratization processes and the flawed execution of the federal framework posedexistential threats to the sustainability of socioeconomic gains. Escalating anti-Tigraysentiments, fueled by perceptions of Tigrayan hegemony and ethnic federalism, sowed seedsof discord that would later erupt into a devastating conflict.

Although Tigrayans paid dearly during the 17-years struggle to end Derg’s’ militarydictatorship and reign of terror and contributed to Ethiopia’s overall prosperity during theEPRDF era, the political and economic gains were not commensurate as such. Contrary tounchecked propaganda disseminated against Tigray and its people, the level ofdemocratization and independence of critical institutions, economic development, povertyreduction, media freedom, etc. were much worseTigray, making the people of Tigrayvulnerable to man-made and natural disasters.

Tragically, after the dissolution of the EPRDF, these tensions reached a fever pitch,culminatingthe declaration of a genocidal war on Tigray in November 2020. Exploitingdeep-seated animosities anti-Tigrayan factions orchestrated a brutal campaign of violenceand atrocity, plunging the region into darkness.

In conclusion, the EPRDF’s legacy is characterized by commendable yet short-livedaccomplishments juxtaposed against enduring and deep-rooted challenges. Despitesuccessfully guiding Ethiopia towards a period marked by peace, prosperity, anddevelopment, the persistent issues of insufficient democratization, fusion of state and party,large-scale corruption and escalating ethnic tensions marred its achievements. As Ethiopiagrapples with ongoing conflicts and struggles to find avenues for reconciliation andrejuvenation, the future of Tigray hangs precariously in the balance. The instability withinEthiopia, compounded by the intricate geopolitics surrounding Tigray, poses grave threats toits survival and vital interests, stability, and prosperity. External factors notwithstanding,Tigray needs to navigate through this precarious landscape, rallying collective efforts towardsmeaningful dialogue, inclusivity, and genuine reconciliation.

1. Background

The situation in Tigray following the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) isunprecedented and extremely precarious. Seventeen months after the signing of the Pretoria Agreement, about 2 million forcefully displaced persons (IDPs) and victims of statesponsored ethnic cleansing still live in camps, tents, and schools with minimal to no support.Additionally, over 40% of the land which serves as a source of livelihood for half of thepopulation of Tigray remains under the occupation of Amhara and Eritrean forces. Tigrayansin the illegally occupied areas continue to endure harassment, mass expulsion, and grosshuman rights violations, with little or no access to basic services and humanitarian assistance.Despite external impediments, the internal political situation remains extremely worrisome, tothe extent thatesignificant progress has been made towards prioritizing the interests andfuture of the Tigray people. Some highlights of the untenable situation in Tigray include:

State functions have been and continue to be paralyzed, from the higher echelons of theTigray Interim Administration (TIA) down to the Wereda and Tabia levels, mainly due toan ongoing power struggle within the TPLF and lack of core leadership within the TIA,compounded by various external factors. Given the TPLF’s predominant presence in theTIA cabinet and nearly all lower-level governmental bodies, its protracted and closeddoor party meetings, spanning over two months, have prioritized internal powerdynamics at the expense of critical pressing public issues such as safeguarding territorialintegrity; the returnover one million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugeesfacing unpreceded suffering; continued large-scale human rights violations on Tigrayansin the illegally and forcefully occupied Tigray territories; famine; and commencing relief,recovery, and reconstruction efforts. This stateparalysis and disregard for pressingpublic issues has sparked public outrage and created a pervasive sense of despair andhopelessness among the Tigray population;

Massive physical and psychological trauma of IDPs and refugees, survivors of genderbased violence; and demobilized, wounded and Tigray Defense Force (TDF) veteransand their families, exacerbated by the lack of comprehensive support and rehabilitation


The humanitarian crisis exacerbated by systemic corruption, which also served as apretext for the suspension of emergency aid for almost a year. This contributed to afamine crisis resulting in reported deaths in Aberegle and other Weredas compoundedby an inadequate response from the state and other stakeholders;

Political confusion and standoff in addition to political leadership bankruptcy – Tigray is

facing from lack of strategic political vision, direction and roadmap that articulate anda

center on the survival and vital interests of Tigray and its people;The deterioration of law and order due to a lack of confidence in the state systemabesieged by widespread systematic and structural corruption and statelessness that hastarnished the image of members of the TPLF, TDF, and government leadership;

Mass migration of the youth from rural areas to towns and their exposuremigrantsmugglers and human traffickers dealing in illegal immigration including trekking to Libyaand Yemen through dangerous routes. Reports also show that highly skilledprofessionals and academicians, including physicians and university professors, whowithstood the 3 years siege and blockage, are now frustrated and leaving the statedroves to Eastern and South Africa, Europe, and elsewhere;

The worsening political and security crisis in the rest of Ethiopia and the region, and thepropensity of adversaries to exploit Tigray’s vulnerability to further degrade its standing,rightful claims, and the overall danger of relapsing to siege and subjugation;

The emergence of new antisocial behaviors including alcoholism, prostitution, propensityto violence, breakdown of law and order etc. – severely affecting the social fabric, norms,and cohesion of the people of Tigray; and GSTS

Indicators of an escalating sense of hopelessness encouraging mass migration of youthsand human capital, the feeling of isolation, coupled with post-traumatic stress disorder(PTSD), depression, and anxiety.

GSTS fully believes that the people of Tigray have every rightbe informed about thepolicies, practices, and intentions of their political leaders and policymakers, and agreementsmade on matters directly impacting their lives, and the present and future of Tigray.Considering the sacrifices made by the people of Tigray over the last six years, particularlyafter enduring a genocidal war resulting in the loss of more than a million lives anddisplacement of over a million from their homes; the people of Tigray deserve full access toall information, deliberation, decision, and agreement affecting their lives and the future of

Tigray including:

how the genocidal war transpired, the tell-tale signs ignored, the catastrophic failuresof political leadership during the war;

the current political and security status and preparationprevent another war andatragedy;

any serious effort, or lack thereof, to maintain the CoHA and the fragile peace they socherish; and

any serious effort, or lack thereof, in the preparation to bolster humanitarianassistance; resettle millions of IDPs and refugees; restoration of the administrativeand territorial integrity of Tigray; and launch relief, recovery, and reconstruction(PW3R).

Recognizing the critical issues at hand, GSTS has demanded immediate and decisive actionafter thorough deliberation. In response to current humanitarian, political, security, economic,and social crises, GSTS has resolved to directly engage with the people of Tigray. Thisengagement includes reaching out not only through intermediaries such as civil societyorganizations, political parties, the Government of Tigray, and the Tigray Defense Forces(TDF) but also by directly involving several segments of the general public via variousmechanisms. With a deep understanding of the context and extensive consultations, GSTShas undertaken rigorous studies and scholarly reviews to draw lessons from globalexperiences, which are adaptable to Tigray’s context. Following a six-month stakeholderengagement process, GSTS decided to dispatch a mission to Tigray to engage with theTigray Interim Administration (TIA), political entities, civil society organizations, Tigraysecurity forces, and other relevant stakeholders. As an independent and non-partisan entitydedicated to the survival and vital interests of the people of Tigray, GSTS’ decisioncommission a mission team underscores its commitment to catalyzing, facilitating, andacontributing to solutions for the unprecedented challenges facing Tigray and its people.

The reader needs to note that this is not a stand-alone document, but a concatenated versionof a more comprehensive document presented, in person, to numerous stakeholders (andathe presentation itself is a condensed version of numerous standalone as well as connecteddocumentseach topic area of interest). It is a succinct presentation of various documentsincluding years of discussions on Tigray’s past and present socioeconomic standing, politicaljourney, and history of war, famine, and genocide; as well as the core document whichsummarizes the six-month stakeholder engagement. Those interested in digging deeper intospecific areas of this press document can request supporting documents from GSTS.

2. Stakeholder Consultations and Research Studies

In the past few years, especially after the genocidal war was declared, GSTS – through itsvarious research teams and platforms has been engaged inseries of studies anddialogues regarding Tigray’s interests, predicaments, and the possible solutions not onlymend the broken institutions and capacities but also to help prevent the vicious cycles ofgenocide, famine, and socio-economic calamities. However, Tigray’s challenges call for widerengagement of all stakeholders. That is why a decision was made to engage those in the listbelow via consultation platforms. Two levels of consultations were held – prior to the trip toMekelle and during the mission. The consultations carried out prior to the engagement withthe key stakeholders in Tigray were aimed at gathering information on: 1) Tigray’s currentsituation 2) why we are here – the root causes, 3) potential solutions.Tigray’s current andcyclical political failures, and 4) the rolethe various stakeholders, especially scholars andprofessionals. This approach was used to establish a common/shared understanding of thecurrent status,reasons thataIuswhere we are, and rally Tigray’s capacity to resolvethe challenges.mission travel and upon

The following organizations and entities were consulted priorarrival in Mekelle, all before the mission team’s engagement with key stakeholders withpresentations: Tigray Political Parties (Baytona, Salsay Woyane, Wudib Natsnet, and Arena),Leaders of Tigray Defense Force (TDF)/Army, Representatives of Scholars & Professionalsto TIA, Representatives of Tigrayan communities and CSOs in the Diaspora and Ethiopia,Tigray Scholars & Professionals in the Diaspora and in Ethiopia, Groups/Associations – Youthand Women Associations (in Tigray), Influential/Veteran Tigrayan Political leaders, TigrayPublic Diplomacy, Gheraelta Institute, Representatives of IDPs and Refugees from WesternTigray, Representatives of IDPs from Sheket (Afar), Wounded TDF members, and Friends ofTigray conversant in Tigray’s politics across the world. In addition, opinions from variousTigrayansthe general public in Tigray and the Diaspora were consulted prior to missiondeliberation. Unfortunately, despite repeated requests and scheduling, pre-mission meetingwas not possible with TPLF (primarily due toabout two months of meetings).

3. Data Gathering and Analysis Process

a) Current Situation (Where are we?)

Despite the apparent post-genocide status of Tigray, there were both agreements and adiversity in understanding among Tigrayans regarding the situation (in terms of its degree ofseverity, and pattern) and its challenges and consequences, prompting the need forengagement with all key stakeholders to help identify areas of collective agreement(convergence) and difference (divergence, and help narrow those when necessary). Oncebegan, participationthe consultative process exceeded GSTS’ expectations. Responseswereorganizedand categorized into Political,Economic, Sociocultural,andInstitutional/Leadership/Governance aspects. Internal factors were prioritized due to theinternal political deadlock being a major concern. Addressing internal issues and maintainingunity based on purpose among Tigrayans is vitalaorder to effectively manage externalpressures undermining Tigray’s rights, survival, and its vital and strategic interests.

The following leading questions were used to gather insights during consultations.

Where are we now? What is your understanding, insight, perspective, or reading of the keychallenges (e.g., IDPs and refugees, territorial integrity, Tigrayans under invaded territories,picking up from war ruins, rebuilding infrastructure, economy, sociocultural, governance andleadership, institution building, and politics (broken down to internal & external posture))?

Stakeholders indicate that Tigray faces unprecedented challenges: genocide, existingsituation with IDPs and refugees, territorial integrity, humanitarian and economic crisis,political bankruptcy, lack of good governance, systematic and structural corruption, worryingsociocultural shifts and developments, and inadequate institutional capacity, all necessitatingserious political commitment and reform for transformative change.

b) Why does Tigray find itself in the current situation (Why are we here?)Following the description of the current situation, each stakeholder was then given anotherleading question: Why are we here? What do you think are the main root causes (real orperceived) of the current and the vicious cycle of genocides, famine, and political failures?

Stakeholders provided various reasons for Tigray’s political failures which have been talliedand organized under four categories – political, economic, sociocultural, and institutional /leadership/governance, considering both internal and external driving factors.

c) Solutions and Roles of the Various Stakeholders

As the main objectivethe consultation is to provide possible actionable solutions built onunderstanding of the current situation and the reasons behind it, the following questions werethen presented to each stakeholder consulted.

How do we get out of this? What kind of forward-looking, innovative, lasting, and strategicsolutions (as opposed to firefighting) and strategies do you suggest to effectively addressthese pressing issues?

What do you think should be the roles of the various segments of the Society including thecivil societies, the intellectuals, the diaspora, and others?

In a similar manner, the inputs and answers of the consultative engagements were tallied,analyzed, and produced in a report and summarized for the face – to – face presentation tomajor stakeholders in Tigray.

4. General Outcomes of the Mission

As discussed above, the process involved various actors including the public and expertswhose contributions led to the outcomes. GSTS acknowledges the dedication of consultedstakeholders and their shared vision for Tigray’s transformation into a strong, cohesive,inclusive, and democratic state. Recommendations stem from Tigray’s economic, social, andpolitical history, detailedsections such as “Situation Analysis,” “Root Causes,” “Tigray’sSurvival and Vital Interests,” “SWOT and Scenario Analyses,” and “Possible Solutions” withinthe core document.

5. Actionable Recommendations (Proposed Solutions)

Stakeholders unanimously acknowledge that Tigray is at a crossroads – facing extraordinarychallenges – and requires exigent political, social, and economic transformation to properlyheal and thrive. Diagnosis to Tigray’s current challenges demands extra-ordinary approachvia implementing comprehensive and enduring solutions that ensure the breaking of repetitiveand vicious cycle of failures, as opposed to quick fix/firefighting. The diverse range ofrecommendations underscores the depth of reforms required and the determination of thepeople to reverse the situation in Tigray to find sustainable solutions. These results were alsoinformed by three years of reflection and studies conducted by GSTS, and from its regulardeliberations such as those conductedthe over 80 members Strategic Deliverables forAction (SDA) and Research and Consultative platforms, and various dedicated workinggroups.

After collecting, tallying, and summarizing the results, a report document was drafted andreviewed with relevant expertise and experience to generate a final draft. This document wasfinally reviewed by different teams and task forces within the GSTS. A traveling mission toTigray was necessitated, and a team was established. The mission team then preparedpresentations in Six major categories: 1) Background and methodology – highlighting theapproach and process used, 2) the situation analysis (where are we?), and the root causesof the problems identified (why are we here?); 3) Tigray’s survival and vital interests; 4)SWOT analysis and scenarios; 5) Post-war relief, recovery, and reconstruction (PW3R);and 6) Actionable recommendations or strategic options (solutions). The post-war relief,recovery, and reconstruction (PW3R) were exclusively made for TIA.

While the first three provide the background information, the main goal is to identify and reacha shared understanding of Tigray’s survival and vital interests; Strength – WeaknessOpportunities – Threats (SWOT) analysis and possible scenarios (within Tigray, Ethiopia, theHorn and beyond) and suggested actions for Tigray; and an outline of key actionablerecommendations and strategic options for implementation by TIA, with stakeholder support.

The proposed solutions shall have different implementation timelines. These presentationswere conducted with various key stakeholders including the cabinet of Tigray InterimAdministration (TIA); heads and deputies of TIA bureaus, commissions, agencies and otherinstitutions; Tigray Alternative political parties (Salsay Weyane, Arena, Baytona, Wunat, andAssimba), TPLF Office Bureau, Generals of Tigray Defense Forces/TDF, TDF middle andsenior leaders (more than 300, only summary and actionable recommendations), andrepresentatives of different segments such as representatives of civil society organizations,universities, etc.

The following proposals, aimed at addressing immediate challenges while laying fertileground for recovery and rebuilding of Tigray, and fostering an inclusive, open, and democraticpolitical and vibrant economic system, ultimately leading to a prosperous and resilient Tigray,were presented, and thoroughly discussed with a diverse range of stakeholders listed anddescribed above.

Note: While the recommendations below are not listed in order of priority or urgency and areall of vital importance, it has to be underlined that the return of IDPs and refugees to their habitual homes and properties, restoration of Tigray’s administrative and territorial integrityshould be a top priority while executing others in parallel.

5.1.Restoration of Administrative and Territorial Integrity; and IDP and RefugeesResettlement

The most pressing and challenging task for any administration of Tigray, including its defenseforces.the safe and dignified return of millions of IDPs and refugees to their homesteadsand the restorationterritorial and administrative integrity of Tigray to prewar status asstipulated in the CoHA, Nairobi Executive Declaration, and the 1995 Ethiopian constitution.From the wider stakeholder consultations and engagements during the mission, the mainrecommendations emphasize the crucial importanceeffectively implementing the Pretoriagreement and Nairobi Exclusive Declarations to sustain peace and restore territorial andadministrative status quo ante in Tigray. This includes the return of occupied territories,restitution of displaced Tigrayans, and ensuring effective governance.

Among displaced Tigrayans, the delay in returning has created widespread feelings of massgrievance, betrayal, desperation, hopelessness, marginalization and discrimination, and asense of “We” and “Them”. Unless this is not urgently solved, it has grave implications fromvarious perspectives including triggering inter-group tension, real or perceived feelings ofmarginalization and discrimination, challenges related to integration, possible social rift andviolence, undermining peace-building efforts etc. The immediate priorityTigrayans shouldbe the safe, voluntary, and dignified return of IDPs and refugees to their places of origin andaccess to and restitution to their homes, land, properties, business, and other entitlements,with packages and instruments that ensure their physical, legal, and psychological protection,and reunification of separated families.

Thus, GSTS urgently recommends:1) all Tigrayans and other stakeholders supportTigray Interim Administration (TIA) and exert pressure on the Ethiopian Federal Government,African Union, US, EU, UK, andinternational community to implement the CoHA andNairobi Declaration as well as respect the 1995 Ethiopian constitution, and restore Tigrayterritory and facilitate the safe and dignified return of Tigray IDPs and refugees; 2) TIA leadand rally all stakeholders by formulating a comprehensive roadmap for the implementation ofthe CoHA, revitalizing diplomatic efforts, implementing effective communication strategies,strengthening regional engagements, and effectively engage with the Tigray Diaspora toresume advocacy efforts; 3) TIA, TDF, Tigray political parties, civil societies and the largerpopulation provide due focus and all rally on the implementation of CoHA with high priorityon the restoration of Tigray administrative and territorial integrity, and return of IDPs andrefugees to their home, land and properties; and 4) in addition to direct representation in theproposed interim council, the GSTS strongly recommends the establishment of anindependent Desk for Western, Southern and Eastern Tigray (a non-political DESKconsisting of representatives of IDPs and Refugees) that follows up and monitors the dailysituation of IDPs and refugees (including their living conditions, needs, rights, and theirapriorities) as well as Tigrayans in the forcefully occupied territories. This body will also workon ensuring timely, safe and voluntary return, resettlement and integration of IDPs andrefugees; and the restoration of areas under occupation.

5.2.Supporting and Strengthening TIA

After the signing of the CoHA, the immediate establishment of an interim administration as

stipulated in the agreement was the implementation of all elements

the agreement

including maintaining peace and stability, resuming emergency humanitarian assistance,

return of IDPs and refugees, beginning regular commerce and state functions to deliver basicservices, etc. GSTS provided specific and priority recommendations for establishing theinterim administration with emphasis on inclusivity, representation, transparency, anddemocratization. Unfortunately, due to power struggles within the ruling party, precious timewas wasted, and GSTS’s recommendations were only partially followed, resulting in theestablishment of a TIA dominated by one party.

However, GSTS continued and will continue its support of the TIA around the abovementioned priority areas, and others including preparation for post-war relief, recovery andareconstruction, and other critical reform agenda and needs.

Despite encouraging progress, it is imperativeunderline that the TIA has been partiallyparalyzed due to various internal (power struggle within TPLF and TIA, and lack of coreleadership within TIA), and external factors including indifferent Federal Government at bestand exploitative at worst, resource limitations etc. However, TIA is now the only civil statepolitical and administrative bodysafeguard Tigray andpeople; and ensure Tigray’ssurvival and vital interests.

Thus, GSTS strongly recommends that the people of Tigray, particularly political entities andstakeholders rally behind, support, and strengthen the TIA. In addition to calling all Tigrayansto rally alongside the TIA, GSTS specifically recommends the TIA take three action points: a)establishing a checks and balances system to strengthen its legitimacy through the formationof an active interim council (see below for details); (b) strengthening its core leadershipthrough cabinet reshuffling when necessary, and deploying practical mechanisms tostrengthen its function at the Tabia and Woreda levels supported by administrativemechanisms, legal provisions and monitoring tools; and 3) rallying all Tigrayans andstakeholders to develop all the capacities needed to safeguard Tigray’s survival and vitalinterests.

5.3.Functional Interim Council

We take notef the fact that TIA has already promulgated the establishment of an advisorycouncil, despite GSTS’ recommendation for a council with a meaningful and substantiveauthority.

However, GSTS still believes the interim council should fulfill the following criteria, amongothers.

a) Representation: immediately after the signing of the COHA, there was an urgent needto establish areasonably representative transitional cabinet and council to protectpeople’s rights and ensure legitimacy and credibility in the eyes of the constituents.Though it took more than a year and had serious setbacks as a result, the need to formsuch an interim council has become front and center in the growing public demand fordirect andrepresentation in a statewide body that determinesshapes the fate of

Tigray and its people;b) Break deadlock ensuring continuity of services: Internal power struggles within theTPLF over who leads the interim cabinet have paralyzed the state apparatus, hindering
the cabinet’s ability to effectively function at all levels including the zones, woredas andaTabias. This was primarily precipitated because the party andstate have becomeone and the samealmost all organs of the state. The paralysis made apparent thatthere is an immediate need for the separation of the state and the party, particularly inthe day-to-day function/operation of the state. It became evident that establishing aninterim council is crucial for ensuring continuity of services despite political deadlockwithin the party;

c) Nurturing hope: A representative and functional state entity offers hope to the peoplewho survived a genocidal war and lost confidence in the political leaders’ ability toaddress the crisis;

d) Ensuring stability: a representative and functional interim council brings stability to the

state institutions and facilitates the normalization of economic and social activities; ande) Providing a cushion: given the precarious and tenuous nature of the interim cabinet, arepresentative council serves as a safeguard against external and internal actions thatamay undermine its authority and legitimacy.

Thus, a representative and all-inclusive council, incorporating diverse voices from membersof the former elected council, political parties, civil society organizations, Tigray DefenseForces (TDF), border communities disproportionately affected by the war, women, minorities,IDPs and refugees, scholars and professionals, eminent personalities, the diaspora,representatives of communities in the rest of Ethiopia such as Addis Ababa, representativesof trade unions, and other segments of the population needs to be promptly established. Itshould possess authority, ensuring no single party holds a monopoly and is not subject topower struggles. Moreover, nominees from entities other than political parties should not bemembers of political parties.

Note: Further details are provided in a separate document, a proposal on the establishmentof an Interim Council prepared by GSTS.

5.4.National Reconciliation and Salvation

The people of Tigray are a politically conscious, mobilized, and empowered community.Hence when demanded for the protection of the community and/or when rights are not metviolated, it can and does organize a people’s resistance including armed struggle. Aroundthe fallthe monarchial regime and the dawn of the Derg era, these resistances wereorganized around a number of movements led by TLF, TPLF, EPRP, EDU, Teranafit etc.Vying for support and political territory, these movements clashed with one another andinvariably ended violently, with TPLF emerging as a dominant force within Tigray, andEPRDF-led Ethiopia. Consequently, the political history of Tigray over the last severaldecades has witnessed violence and serious divisions among Tigrayans. The internaldivisions within TPLF, particularly the splitcore central committee in 2001, is oneexample that has significantly impacted Tigray’s political landscape. These regrettabledivisions have not only widened among individual leaders and their followers but have alsodeepened mistrust and resentment among communities. Across Tigray, many people andafamilies feel victimized by these divisions and other actions at different times. Those divisionsand feelings of victimization have had and will continue to have a serious impact on Tigray’ssocial fabric and cohesion, alienating those with critical and different opinions andperspectives, nurturing an echo chamber of ‘yes’ persons, and inculcating conformity, thusendangering the potentialadvance forward as a political community. Consequently development of independent institutions and mechanisms for checks and balances to powerhas been hindered, weakening the region’s leadership, and encumbering the emergence ofa new generation of leaders, all leaving the people of Tigray poorly and ill-preparedtheface of the devastating genocidal war, and diverse man-made and natural crises. There is agrowing public outcryaccountability for the disastrous preparationthe war, and failedleadership, partly attributed to the legacy of absolute power monopoly, outright secretivebehavior, and limited political space. The prewar preparation,lack thereof, the conduct ofthe war, the road to Pretoria, the poor implementation of Pretoria agreement etc., continue todeepen divisions among political leaders, the public in general, the younger generation inparticular, as the implementation of the Pretoria agreement has become more elusive anddivisive. There is also a perceptible growing demographic rift (between the ‘new generation’and ‘older’ generation) on the aspiration (Bahgi) and future of Tigray. There are similar butnuanced rifts along geographic areas, and other persuasions as well. Unfortunately, theabsence of organized collective platforms for airing diverse ideas and facilitatingreconciliation has allowed these problems to persist. Establishing independent institutionsand platforms, includingelders’ council, is essential to address these challenges, help healwounds, facilitate reconciliation, and foster unity of purpose and understanding in Tigray.

Thus, it has become increasingly criticalconvene a platform aimedaaddressing andbuilding national consensus on the overarching issues. GSTS believes and recommends thefirst step towards this noble and necessary goal is national reconciliation and salvation. Theelites that were active in the political space of Tigray need to engage in a processiopendiscussion to ultimately denounce the wounds inflicted in the past five decades and agree toclose the chapter of toxic political engagement where the only way to resolve differences wasby the barrel of a gun and solemnly resolve to engage in peaceful approaches that ultimatelyleaves the final say to the people of Tigray on the ballot box. Such a process is expectedalead the families affected by division, alienation, victimization, and other factors to healing,and to address and mend unaddressed/ignored old wounds and rifts that resurface whenpoked with fresh injuries (flashbacks).

Through truth-finding, truth-telling, and drawing lessons from other nations that went throughsimilar tragic paths: such as Ireland, Chile and others,wounds must heal, and rifts needto be bridged. The chapter of winners and losers, victims and victors, and the path of ghosting,victim blaming, and retribution must be transcended, allowing the new generation to moveforward in strong unity and cohesion.

Reconciliation entails recognizing victims, providing redress, fostering remorse andforgiveness, and ultimately paving the way for a national conference that can clarify vitalinterests, foster unity of purpose, and shape a political vision and roadmap for Tigray’s futureas a united political community.

5.5.Fact-finding/Truth telling-based immunity to Political LeadersThe recent political history of Tigray/Ethiopia has been characterized by a “winner takes it all”approach, where those outoffice andof favor either face persecution or are subtlyundermined, along with their families, perceived supporters, and communities. Such targetingof political leaders has serious repercussions on stable governance, smooth power transfer,a culture of respect for public service and use of state of power while in office. It can alsoexacerbate the risk of backlash, lack of cooperation, social division, and resentment. The willof the people of Tigray has been suppressed, and their fate has been dictated by a vanguard party, its cadres, and its apparatus – often determined by a few selected political leaderswith little space for dissenting voices. Thus, a political immunity mechanismnecessary toredress previous wrongs and help put the past to rest, address the current leadership crisisand political impasse, and recognize that political decisions and mistakes are inadvertentlycommitted, either deliberately, involuntarily, or due to a lack of capacities to cope with thesituations. Removing the threat of retribution and designing to be forward-looking, specificimmunity (including incentives, providing public recognition for their services and dignifiedretirement packages) needs to be considered particularly for decisions/actions of a politicalnature. Such endeavors will enable Tigray and its people to nurture true democracy.However, granting immunity to political leaders does not set them free from being accountablefor criminal offenses. Actions of a criminal nature (including human rights violations, if thereare any) are not considered for this initiative.

Thus, drawing lessons from other countries and tailoring them for Tigray’s context, GSTSrecommends the following: 1) Formulate and implement truth-finding/truth-telling-basedimmunity packages supported by legal provisions and monitoring mechanisms; 2) designterm limits and succession planning of political leadershipestablish an independentoversight committee or Ombudsman; and 3) develop incentive packages and rewards forleaders who voluntarily step down when they finish their term and when it is in the best interestof the state by considering various benefits such as advisory roles in the highest stateleadership and institutions, continued involvement in special mega projects, honorarypositions etc.

5.6.State and Party Separation

State and party separation is a vital aspect of democracy observed and practiced globally. Indemocratic countries, it is common for an elected ruling party to appoint executive leaders tokey positions within state organs to ensure the implementation of its policies and agenda.However, these positions should be limited, established by law, and made known to thepublic. Political appointees are individuals appointed by the party or the President, with orwithout the state confirmation, to positions in the executive branch. For instance, among 1.8million federal employees in the US, only 4000 are politically appointed. The UK and Japan,respectively, have 150 and 50 political appointees among hundreds of thousands of theirafederal employees.

Even though the global democratic practice indicates that the number

technical expertise, training and capacity building endeavors, and related support to help thepolitical parties develop their overall capacity.

8.3. Working with Civil Society OrganizationsGSTS as a non-partisan civil society organization identifies with both the opportunities andchallenges the nascent civil society organizations of Tigray face. GSTS will partner with CSOsto promote peace, democracy, and justice, economic and human development for the peopleof Tigray. GSTS will continueengage, individually and collectively, in the implementationof the CoHA, maintaining peace, in the PW3R and the overall reform, transformation anddemocratization process. In addition, GSTS will facilitate, and /or provide technical expertise,training, and related support to help CSOs develop their capacity to advocate, and orimplement shared social, economic, equity, and other related issues.

9. Implementation Follow-up

A group of GSTS members based in Mekelle (Ethiopia) and abroad will join theimplementation follow-up and technical groups to support the development of relevantdocuments and the implementationthe recommendations. The relevant GSTS thematicareas and working groups will also be charged with the responsibility of providing technicalsupport to specific recommendations in their respective areas of expertise.

The Global Society of Tigray Scholarsand Professionals (GSTS)

7th April 2024

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