I would like to acknowledge your commitment and sacrifice on behalf of the people of Tigray over the past three years. Your hard work and dedication have brought to light concerns and issues that should be discussed by those who are committed to the development and progress of the Tigray people. Your decision to participate in the last election earned you great admiration and respect from the people you purport to assist and to protect. The election was free and fair, particularly when compared to the national elections held in the past. Although the election was not perfect, the election established some very important foundations for democracy, including the groundwork that will pave the way for more individual liberties, including freedoms of expression, thought, and association.
In Aiga Forum, several months before the 2021 election, I posted an article entitled, “All Eyes Are on Tigray,” in which I raised ten points, one of which was the appeal to the government of Tigray to support the newly established Tigray election commission and its plan to conduct a fair and credible election. Given the very short time in which the commission had to prepare and its lack of experience, it was uncertain just how successful and credible the election results would be. The commission, however, should be commended for its work. Although some irregularities were raised by the opposition parties, the election was peaceful and successful. Moreover, after the election, the legislators made several amendments to the election law in order to accommodate the concerns of the opposition parties. Although many people on social media argued that the concessions did not go far enough, the basis of their arguments was grounded not in a preference per se for a particular political party over another political party but was rooted in their strong desire and aspiration to see a more democratic Tigray.
Unfortunately, before the people of Tigray had a chance to observe how the newly elected legislators would govern, an unprovoked war was perpetrated against Tigray by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, bringing unprecedented atrocities, suffering, and devastation to Tigray and her people. Although the horizon looks bleak, it is in such times of devastation and chaos when Individuals of courage and integrity emerge to meet the challenges and difficulties of the era. One such hero is Mr. Dori Asgedom, the leader of Assimba Democratic Party. Risking imprisonment, he nevertheless refused to be silent in the face of injustice and publicly demanded the withdrawal of the Eritrean troops from Tigray. His actions earned him the respect and admiration of many persons across all party lines.
Despite the ravages and atrocities of this genocidal war, the people of Tigray have not lost hope and are more determined than ever to work tirelessly, hand in hand, to make her communities and land viable again. Tigray will rebuild infrastructure, roads, highways, hospitals, clinics, and schools. Tigray will again take care of her citizens, and also serve as a safe haven for anyone fleeing their own homeland for fear of unjust persecution based on identity and or beliefs.
However, in order to facilitate the rebuilding of Tigray in a way which will ensure its long-term prosperity and development, several political parameters must be instituted. First, the basic human rights of the Tigray people must be recognized and protected, including the right to freedom of thought and expression. Second, the people must have the right to form political parties, to join them, and to participate in them as they see fit. Third, the people must be able to choose freely the candidate they feel best represents their interests and the interests of the people as a whole.
Protection of the right of the individual to think freely and express those thoughts freely, as well as the protection of the rights of groups to form and discuss ideas without fear of persecution will guarantee Tigray’s stability and prosperity. Allowing the people of Tigray to choose their destiny freely without fear will bring about a more stable and stronger Tigray which can play a major role in bringing stability and peace not only to the Horn of Africa, but also to the rest of Africa, and beyond.
Although your dedication to lead and serve the people of Tigray is very honorable, statements you made recently to the media regarding the dissolution of the current government and replacing it with an interim government, are misguided at best, and alarming at worst. Such actions would adversely affect Tigray and make her more vulnerable than ever to further attacks by her enemies which could only bring about more devastation and suffering to the Tigray people. It is not clear if the statements about the dissolution of the government were just thoughts and ideas for consideration, or if these statements were the result of a carefully thought-out policy you are actually planning to implement. It should not be necessary to point out that words have consequences and can and do influence those who hear them, for good or for bad, particularly when expressed by powerful and influential people, i.e., the party leaders of Tigray.
In conclusion, Tigray will benefit most when you and the citizenry work hand in hand regardless of party affiliation, to fulfill the immediate needs of the people and to tackle the most pressing problems confronting Tigray at this time. Remember the old adage, “united we stand, divided we fall”. Tigray needs you more than ever. Build strong bridges, work hard, and do your best to win the hearts and minds of the people by doing the right thing. When the next elections are held, your success will not be measured by the victory of a particular candidate or a particular party. Your success will be determined by one metric only: the victory of Tigray and her people.