The official election results in Ethiopia announced last 11 July give the Prosperity Party (PP) 421 seats out of 436. In September there will be more voting in some areas of the country that have been excluded for the moment, but not in the Tigray.
This is an important victory for Addis Ababa, which ensures Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, in office since 2018, a second five-year term, strengthening his leadership at a time that is certainly not easy for the country.
In recent weeks, on June 28, a surprising news had arrived, the unilateral proclamation of the central government of the ceasefire for humanitarian reasons.
In essence, the Addis Ababa government had chosen to put the population of Tigray first, as also requested by international agencies, to avert a serious humanitarian crisis. Because at the moment the greatest danger is famine which could overwhelm more than 400,000 people. The federal army, therefore, withdraws to stop the armed clashes and allow farmers not to miss the harvest season. Tigray is an arid and mountainous region in the north of the country, with scarce rainfall, already in serious difficulty before the war, due to the pandemic and swarms of locusts. The conflict that broke out last November further weakened it, also preventing sowing in the fields.
There is now a truce between Tplf (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) and the Addis Ababa government.
Abiy’s statements, however, exclude the possibility that the government sits at the negotiating table with the Tplf representatives, defined as terrorists by parliament, for the attack against the North Barracks, the national weapons depot.
For peace, the six million Tigers will have to wait a little longer. Meanwhile, the war has changed the face of the region. A third of the inhabitants are internally displaced, forced to move to leave the most dangerous areas. More than forty-five thousand Tigers are still in refugee camps in Sudan. A very large number of people need help to live. We need drugs, treatments, hospitals. Everything that was there was looted, taken away, destroyed.
The TPLF has burned earth around itself and in its own land for two reasons, in order to blame the “invaders”, the federal army and the Amhara and Eritrean allies, and to urgently and indispensably attract international agencies. FAO, (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), Unhcr, (UN Refugee Agency), Wfp, (World Food Program), Msf, (Doctors Without Borders) have long established structures in Ethiopia, also in Tigray. The people who work there, especially those of the place, know places and situations well. For twenty-seven years it was the regional government that entrusted them with tasks and roles.
At the government ceasefire, the Tplf responds, hotly, with lapidary and not at all conciliatory sentences, “until all enemies leave Tigray, we will fight”, “the capital of Tigray, Mekelle, is under our control” Tplf leader Getachew Reda told Reuters who interviewed him via satellite phone.
And just Mekellé, in the hours following the ceasefire, becomes the scene of a great party orchestrated and told by the Tplf for the benefit of the international media. Fireworks that light up the sky of the city, red-yellow flags waving in joyful streets. In the following days, the Tplf puts its own dispatch online. “The Tigray army” they write “is achieving splendid victories one after another and now has control of Mekellé”. The government of Tigray, they say, will support international aid organizations so that they can access the area without restrictions to bring aid. These organizations, they explain, will be able to count on the Tplf, because the government of Tigray is committed to providing unconditional support, guaranteeing them personal safety ”.
It seems that with these promises the government of Tigray wants to strengthen the alliance with the NGOs, whose presence is needed now more than ever because of the war they have unleashed.
If in the convoys with the logo of the humanitarian agencies passing through Tigray there are precious goods, such as medicines, water, seeds and much more, the Tplf will guarantee security and government immunity. Of the regional government, of course. A condition missed by three operators of Doctors Without Borders, who died before the ceasefire in an attack while reaching a critical area.
The TPLF considers this ceasefire a revenge. After months of escaping to the mountains, executives are now in town to savor a victory won more from the rear and through politics than on the battlefield. They certainly did not lack the support of the United States and Europe. Moreover, they are heirs of the government of Meles Zenawi, and have maintained the old and consolidated ties. Therefore, President Biden, who has just been elected to face the thorny Tigray issue, has entrusted it to Tony Blinken who, like Susan Rice, considers Ethiopia a country that is well left politically subject to Western interests.
So in recent days the international press and also the Italian one, however little attentive to the war in Tigray, have published many images to tell the triumph of the Tplf. Everywhere the headlines speak of victory. In their narration, the TPLF stops being an elite group of power, well trained also in communication, to become a revolutionary branch.