GSTS Expresses Its Concern, Urges Opposition Parties to Participate, Recommends Engagement.

The Global Society of Tigrayan Scholars and Professionals (GSTS) expressed its position on the ongoing process for establishing the interim regional administration in Tigray. The full statement reads as follows:


GSTS Position Statement on the Ongoing Process for Establishing the Interim Regional Administration (IRA) in Tigray

1. This position statement builds on the Global Society of Tigrayan Scholars and Professionals’ (GSTS’s) Position Statement (dated 31st January 2023) and the proposals for the establishment of the Interim Regional Administration (dated 18th February 2023) in Tigray which both underscore the importance of a political transition that is inclusive, transparent, credible, accountable and capable of safeguarding Tigray’s vital interests, ensuring non-repetition of genocidal war, and creating a foundation for democracy, responsive governance, institution building, and development in the region.

2. Having closely reviewed the process of establishing the IRA in Tigray, the GSTS would like to register its concern on the following shortcomings publicly:

a. The GSTS acknowledges that the establishment and composition of the 9-member committee to form the IRA was not transparent, broad-based, and participatory and that the proposed distribution of cabinet seats in the IRA’s executive body is skewed to one political party, i.e., the TPLF;

b. During the two-day conference in Mekelle, the GSTS observed clear conflicts of interest, particularly in the selection of members of the praesidium and the voting pattern in which clear differences were seen between participants of the ruling party and Civic Society Organizations (CSOs). Some stakeholders’ latest appointments to the Cabinet reveal this direct conflict of interest;

c. More fundamentally, GSTS opposes the decision to maintain the current parliament, which is entirely composed of members from one party, instead of creating a new inclusive council with legislative and oversight powers on the executive body, as outlined in the GSTS proposal. GSTS once again strongly calls for the formation of a new council composed of all major stakeholders.

3. Despite these serious reservations, as an independent and non-partisan institution, the GSTS intends to remain engaged in forming the IRA and nominating capable and independent candidates for the IRA cabinet members designated from the broader Tigrayan scholars all over the world. This is because GSTS, as a scientific community, cannot opt to disengage from its core function of conducting research, engaging stakeholders and promoting changes. Disengagement may constitute an abdication of duty for intellectual communities like the GSTS.

4. GSTS would like to demand once again the swift establishment of a new inclusive Assembly of representatives constituted of all stakeholders with legislative and oversight powers to replace the existing Council as outlined in its previous Proposal. We aim to work with all stakeholders to create a more democratic space and stable environment for the people of Tigray who have gone through unimaginable trauma during the continuing genocidal war and to launch healing and reconstruction efforts immediately.

5. In the meantime, GSTS will continue to demand the IRA to prioritize, among others, investigation and ensuring accountability for those engaged in atrocity crimes and effective remedies for victims; restoring peace and stability in Tigray; expediting the relief, protection, voluntary and dignified repatriation of refugees and return of IDPs to their land, home, and property; strengthening the rule of law, justice, and security sector including regulatory, police, and enforcement functions; working closely with local, national, regional and international partners to mobilise resources to consolidate peace and development in Tigray; facilitating the complete resumption of basic services; reconstituting administrative structures in all parts of Tigray; making all the necessary preparations for democratic, free, competitive and peaceful elections etc.

6. GSTS sympathizes with the serious concerns expressed by the opposition political parties in Tigray and acknowledges with concern their decision not to participate in the two-day conference. However, GSTS is convinced that non-participation in the transitional process can be more detrimental than participation, further allowing for the consolidation of rule by one political party. Therefore, GSTS urges the opposition parties to reconsider their decision and actively participate in the IRA. The GSTS understands that participation may not guarantee an immediate solution to all concerns, but it can provide a platform for progressive political transformation to counter authoritarianism and offer an opportunity for consultation, introspection, oversight, and a coalition of democratic forces, and ultimately, progress towards a more inclusive and democratic political landscape, free and fair election in Tigray.

7. In conclusion, despite the grave shortcomings in the process of establishing the IRA, GSTS strongly believes that the IRA faces specific tasks that largely require expertise from technocrats. Therefore, GSTS remains committed to staying engaged in facilitating the nomination of the IRA cabinet members from the wider Tigrayan scholars with the hope of achieving an inclusive, transparent, and democratic process that involves all stakeholders. It is important to note that as an independent institution, GSTS cannot join the IRA, and once the candidates are nominated and appointed to the cabinet, they will do so solely in an individual capacity.

The Global Society of Tigray Scholars and Professionals (GSTS)

7th March 2023