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Ethiopian lawmakers call region’s vote unconstitutional

September 5, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. PDT
JOHANNESBURG — Ethiopia’s upper house of parliament on Saturday called elections planned next week in the northern Tigray region unconstitutional, amid a confrontation between the federal government and regional officials who have warned that any intervention amounts to a “declaration of war.”

“The decision by the House of Federation treats the act of the Tigray regional state as void from the very beginning,” legal expert Kiya Tsegaye told The Associated Press. “This makes the election unconstitutional and illegitimate. I think this decision will be the base for the next legal action by the federal government.”

Regional officials in Tigray have opposed the year-long postponement of Ethiopia’s general election, once planned for August, and the continuation of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s mandate beyond term limits. They have organized their own election for Sept. 9. The federal government has said the postponement relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and should be respected.

Members of the upper house of parliament from the Tigray region boycotted its meeting Saturday.

The Sept. 9 vote will elect members of the regional parliament, which in turn will elect the region’s cabinet and administrators.

Ethiopia’s prime minister has ruled out a military intervention to deal with the confrontation, but there are fears that any punitive measures by the federal government could escalate tensions further.

The standoff with Ethiopia’s northern region is just the latest challenge to the administration of Abiy, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year in part for the sweeping political reforms since he took office in early 2018.

The loosening of the former government’s repressive measures, however, have opened the way for certain long-held grievances and requests by some regions for more autonomy. The former government was largely led by people from the Tigray region, exacerbating the tensions.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It will be the grandest of a shame if these two groups choose to go to war for such stupendously silly reason. I am gonna hold both responsible for sending the gullible youths from both sides to their untimely deaths for much ado about nothing. I will also hold all of you those here among the Diaspora who have been hurling derogatory terms at our noble people of Tigray using the name of their pride ‘Woyane’ to denigrate them as human beings. From what I learned from history books written by our own historians this name was coined to describe a noble cause in the 1940’s. It might have been exploited by hostile elements for their own ulterior motives but it was not a rebellion by filthy rich people. But that lost cause was resurrected by deacons/darasaas of Marx, Lenin and Mao in the 1970’s and these goons have been riding on the backs of those noble people since rebadging themselves as the latter day ‘Woyanes’. They proclaimed every man and woman from that region is a ‘Woyane’ them included as one of them but de facto leaders. Any attack on them is an attack on every citizen from that region, they preached. They used that and still using that spiel from the bottom of the deck. Many of us fell right into their playbook. Many of us lambasted using battle cry ‘Down With Woyane’ and bigots opened their big mouths with ‘Down Down Woyane!’ instead of singling out the leaders. Woyanes became and still are targets instead of those conniving brutes at the top. Now I will tell you why I never liked such historical names as targets. When I heard the term ‘Neftegna’ in the speeches and propaganda papers who told me they were in the ‘business’ of ‘liberating’ my Oromos in the 1970’s I expressed my reservations in using the term as targets of the ‘liberation’ struggle for a simple fact that it bore a broad-brushing effect and would turn fatal to innocent people. Whether we like it or not, there always exist a sizeable size of group of people in any given society that does not possess the sophistication of looking through what it hears or reads. Well it was a matter of time before my fear materialized. Innocent poor farmers and small town residents were massacred just because they were seen as those oppressor ‘N’ people. It happened in the early 1990’s, then in 2019 and again this year. During the 2016-18 protests thousands of our brothers and sisters with Tigray heritage were chased out of their domiciles in Amhara and Oromia regions where they lived for decades and in many instances for generations. Many were chased and stoned to death in broad day light and tens of thousand others were thrown out after being manhandled. That was because they were labeled that dreaded ‘Woyane’ that habitual jailer, torturer and killer during the protests. Now there is a new and trending phrase being carelessly used to target bigoted individuals and their blind brigands. I have been bitterly opposed to using the phrase ‘Oromo Extremists’ because whether we like it or not it has the same dangerous broad brushing effect. Yes there are extremists running around in every region including Oromia but they are just individuals who happened to be born to Oromo parents. They do not represent that farmer, merchant and urban dweller from my Itu clan. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that makes the need and wants of my Itu clan totally different from that farmer in Amhara or anywhere else in the entire country. It just happens to be the times where loud mouthed bigots from every region holding the microphone. And boy, they are loud!!! For these boom box hate mongers and personal fiefdom dreamers the term ‘Oromo Extremists’ has been music to their ears. It gives them the ‘I told you’ moment during their blubbering congregations. They were heard telling their gullible followers like ‘When an Oromo protests oppression by the Abyssinian Empire, the ‘N’ people call him an ‘Oromo Extremist’ including me and every one of you here’. I have been begging and pleading against giving ethnic panhandle in describing those with evil intentions. Again, there are no Oromo, Amhara, Tigray, Afar, Somali, Sidama or any other ethnic extremists but individuals are and those are the ones that should be maligned. I hope and pray we will give it up very, very soon.

    I hope level head elders both from within and outside the country will intervene and bring these two groups to their senses. The lynching and forceful evictions took place under the federal government’s watch. It must come up with a grand plan to rehabilitate or launch a program of amicable reparations to all those innocent citizens driven out from their homes and businesses. Even Zimbabwe has come out a plan to financially compensate those innocent white farmers who were brutally evicted from their productive modern farms because it was not right. So grow up, wise up!!!

    As always this is my two cents of an opinion with no harm intended!!!

  2. The Tigraians are well organized and prepared to defend themselves against any force be it from Abiy Ahmed or Isaias Afewerki. Both know that the Tigraian forces have defeated Africa`s largest army and liberated Eritrea and the oppressed nations, nationalities and peoples in Ethiopia. I hope that they will not make the most stupid move to attack Tigray.

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