By Asmerom Girmay (Eng.), London, UK.
First, I want to express my gratitude to Lieutenant General Tsakidan Gebretinsae for his unwavering dedication to serving the people’s interests rather than prioritizing individuals or political parties. It is commendable that he has shared his ideas and comments along with this strategic proposal paper. In fact, I had hoped to see such proposals from political parties.
Before sharing my thoughts and suggestions of what he has suggested, I would like to emphasize specific points in General Tsadkan’s paper that struck me as noteworthy and that we should all heed.
“…culminating with the conduct of a genuinely fair and democratic election would require the contribution and support of all Tigrayans and much more than what we Tigrayans can avail and afford. This process of forming the transitional administration should therefore allow and enable the broadest participation of all Tigrayans (under the current circumstances) and deliver an acceptable and agreeable administration to work and coordinate with all our partners and allies in the effort to entrench peace and ensure reconstruction.”
“The key attributes that should define the formation process should therefore be transparent, all-inclusive, democratic, and effective, while acceptability, agility and competence should define the outcome. Every element of the process should be inclusive of the key stakeholders, and every representative should be democratically elected, while the whole process should remain transparent, optimal and effective.”
“Although the members of the committee come from the institutions and sectors that they pretend to represent, it remains a fact that none of them was formally elected and mandated to represent the same. They were hand-picked and assigned by the government. The lack of legitimate representation is, therefore, undeniable. Much worse, there are very important stakeholders and actors that the current committee does not even pretend to include. One can see members from the TPLF, the TDF and Tigray’s election commission represented in the committee. Still, key stakeholders like the opposition parties, academia, the diaspora, business community, civil society etc., are totally missing. The process to establish the IRA seems already flawed, and hence may not be expected to deliver the desired result, unless steps are taken to legitimize the existing members and include the missing stakeholders.”
“Despite the absence of an inclusive and legitimate mandate and explicit terms of reference, the committee seems to want to run the whole show from process design to execution, including supervision and observation. Given the clear deficit in their mandate and representation, allowing them to run the show on a turnkey and exclusive basis is potentially conflicted and dangerous.”
"There are also the Observers and/or guarantors in the UN, US and IGAD, whom we expect to play a key role not only in the implementation of the peace agreement but also in the reconstruction and rebuilding of our dilapidated Tigray. These Observers should therefore be at least informed and updated of the whole process in due time, and they should be allowed to have their fair judgment and acceptance of the process."
“Merit and competence, and not political or personal affiliation, should guide the selection and constitution of the team.”Tweet
“Members and leaders of political parties can be members or leaders of the team, but their selection and placement should be based solely on their individual technical competence and merits and not on their political affiliation or status in their parties.”Tweet
“The Democratically elected council of key stakeholders and its mandate will greatly contribute towards making the politics in Tigray more inclusive. This will immensely contribute to peace within Tigray and the region in general.”Tweet
In his paper, General Tsadkan stated that the Regional Government of Tigray had designated a committee to form an Interim Regional Administration (IRA) in accordance with the Pretoria Agreement.
However, it should be noted that while a committee was indeed formed, it was not established in accordance with the Pretoria Agreement due to the following reasons:
The committee was not formed by the Regional Government of Tigray but rather by a political party called the TPLF, which refers to itself as the regional government. This directly violates the Pretoria Agreement, as the Ethiopian government, the African Union, and other international mediators do not recognize the TPLF as an elected party with the authority to govern Tigray. Instead, they demand the establishment of an inclusive interim regional administration.
As a result, the TPLF should not have the mandate, legal basis, or moral authority to form a committee on its own, as it is simply a political party. The Pretoria Agreement stipulates that the establishment of an inclusive Interim Regional Administration will be decided through political dialogue between the parties.
However, there is debate about whom the stakeholders should be. Should it only involve the Ethiopian Government (EG) and the TPLF, or should all Tigrayan parties be included in the dialogue? Furthermore, can it truly be called “inclusive” if the dialogue only involves the TPLF and the Ethiopian Government?
Lieutenant General Tsadkan argues, “Although the quota of representatives assigned to each party or stakeholder may vary depending on the political significance, membership and influence of each party, no single party should be allowed to have an absolute majority or dominate the Council.” I have a different proposal.
I propose that the quota of representatives assigned to each party or stakeholder should be equal in the Interim Regional Administration. However, no single party should be allowed to have an absolute majority or dominate the Council. Attempting to assign quotas based on varying levels of political significance, membership, and influence of each party is not feasible in the absence of a democratic environment where people cannot exercise their rights. In a situation where a single party has 100% dominance in the parliament and media, it is important to ensure that the Interim Regional Administration is inclusive and representative of all stakeholders.
In the interest of time, Tsadkan suggested-”while the current committee is still working on the preparation of their proposal; the Government of Tigray should invite the key missing stakeholders, like the opposition parties, academia, business community, etc., to select and send their representatives in time to participate in the review and approval of the proposal for implementation.” He is not suggesting the representatives be members of the committee. I protest this proposition too.
Firstly, the stakeholders’ representatives should be automatic committee members. Merely having them as proposal reviewers of what has been prepared by the committee is an insult to the process, as there is no guarantee of acceptance if they refuse approval of the proposal for implementation. If they are included in the process from the beginning, the proposal will be a result of their deliberation and they all can take ownership of it.
Secondly, it is essential to ensure that the selection process for representatives from academia, the business community, and civil society is not hijacked by TPLF network cells. Maximum care must be taken to prevent such attempts and ensure that the selection process is fair, transparent, and inclusive of all stakeholders.
Finally, I propose that every meeting of the committee and the process of implementing IRA should be transparent and open to private and state media, with regular updates provided to the public. This would ensure that the process is accountable and transparent and that the public is informed about the progress being made. It would also increase public trust in the process and ensure that any concerns or issues that arise can be addressed in a timely manner.