Sustaining Peace in Tigray

Mekelle፡ 1 July 2024 (Tigray Herald)

By Jawar Mohammed

Sustaining Peace in Tigray

It is encouraging to see that IDPs displaced due to the Tigray war have finally begun returning to their homes. Combined with the re-registration of the TPLF as a political party, this signals a significant improvement in relations between the federal and Tigray regional governments. However, there is one issue that has yet to be tackled: political settlement. Since the end of the war following the signing of the Pretoria Agreement, the focus has been on improving humanitarian access and to some extent addressing issues related to contested territories. Both sides seem to be avoiding the core issue that led to the war: Tigray’s status within the federation. Little has been addressed regarding Tigray’s reintegration into the political fabric of the Ethiopian state. Without incorporating Tigrayan civilian and military elites into the federation, lasting peace may remain elusive. Thus, it is in the best interest of both regional and federal leaders to prioritize reintegration.

Over the course of the last four decades, Tigray has produced a sizable number of administrative technocrats, diplomats and security personnel whose skills were designed for use in federal and international institutions. In the wake of the 2018 political transition, many of these elites have left those federal and international positions and returned to Tigray. Not only are their skills incompatible with the needs of a state government, but the war-ravaged region also lacks the capacity to utilize them in positions commensurate with their training or expertise, and at the scale they had been accustomed to. The manner in which they suddenly became redundant, if not irrelevant, naturally causes individual frustration and exacerbation of factionalism. Unless addressed, such scenarios can hamper the elite cohesion needed for post-war recovery. In the long run, it could result in the resumption of war due to ‘intra-ethnic nationalist outbidding’ among personalities and factions. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the Tigrayan leadership to push for serious negotiations towards a political settlement that could pave the way for reintegration.

The reintegration of Tigrayan elites is also important for the federal government. For one, they bring back valuable skills and expertise that can help strengthen the state’s security, administrative, and diplomatic capacity. Their full inclusion into the federal administrative and security framework will also stave off the fear of a sudden resumption of war between the two sides.

Therefore, third-party mediators who brokered the peace agreement, as well as the public, should encourage the two sides to urgently begin negotiations towards reintegration.

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