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  • What was Happened to Tigray

    Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD) is the Chairman of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), one of the four parties that form the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). He is also the Vice President of the Tigray Regional State. Throughout our stay in Tigray for the past few weeks, we have seen changes here and there in terms of development. Can you mention some of the changes that took place in the region since you took office? Before going into that, let me answer why these changes are taking place. Prior to taking those measures that you’ve just mentioned, we, as a party and government, a year ago, have extensively evaluated ourselves in terms of what we have done for our people as well as what we’ve missed. We held a meeting in Mekelle that lasted for 35 days. After evaluate ourselves, we decided that there is a lot to be done. There has been lots of improvement and we have done many positive things in the past. However, we agreed that we need to make changes. Not only that, we have also discussed on how to bring about those changes. Moreover, instead of doing business as usual, we have also decided to introduce new ideas and new ways of doing things i.e. it in terms of improving education quality, development as well as investment. We understood that the problems we identified are multifaceted so after our meetings we engaged different stakeholders including scholars from Tigray. For instance we identified that there are problems in regards to quality in the education sector. So we let the scholars come up with solutions. We also engaged the scholars in investment options as well as developments works. They were involved in generating new ideas. We are now implementing those new initiatives. The whole thing is to bring change. We are committed to bringing changes not only because we are trying to compensate for the things we failed to implement but also because Tigray, in relative terms, is one of the top impoverished regions in the country. We have to speed up the development activities. And the changes you just mentioned have genuine rationales and pushing factors behind them. Again those changes are driven by real and genuine factors. More than anything, we are now seeing investment inflow to the region. And the fact that our region is relatively peaceful is attracting both local and foreign investors. As a country it is concerning and we are in a very critical and dangerous situation. Over the past three years, we have seen a number of deaths and it is still continuing. Most of the killings are related with identity. This is a new phenomenon for Ethiopia and it didn’t even happen following the 1991 transition. We can’t blame the killings on the public; rather, it is happening because of corrupted and spoiled political elite as well as the government structure. The government is there to deter these things before happening. Government is mandated to follow and ensure rule of law. However, those killings show us that the government has failed and is weak. Our people have lived together for thousands of years. The problem now is that the system has failed. If the system is not going to be fixed, these killings will continue. We don’t have similar situations in Tigray. Here we have a government that is engaged with the people and always takes the lead. Not that we don’t have demands from our people when it comes to democracy, as well as things like maladministration; we are always trying to respond to those demands. However, in most parts of the country, there are many killings. This shows that the government is failing to avoid that. The government system at a country level is falling apart and the people are paying the price. In our case, following what happened in Axum University, we didn’t undermine the incident because it was just one killing. We took measures and arrested suspects. We have many people in Tigray who were displaced from Oromia and Amhara especially over the past two years. These people lost their assets as well as their loved ones. These people didn’t go to avenge anyone because of what happened to them. They rather accepted their loss. Our region is home of Ethiopians from different ethnic groups. So, all in all, we need a functioning government and relatively the government in Tigray is functioning well. First to all blocking roads and prohibiting grains from coming to Tigray is a grave crime. It was not done to attack few individuals or groups; it was done targeting the people in general. It is total madness! You don’t commit such crimes even on your enemies on the battlefield. How could someone label the whole population as your enemy? Seeing this, we didn’t do something distractive as tit for tat. It was done under the watchful eyes of all concerned government bodies; be it in the Amhara Regional State and the federal government. This was done not because the government lacks the capacity to avoid the incident. It was done because there is an interest from the government to let it happen in order to put pressure on Tigray. The government bodies allowed it to happen. Well it is an open secret. We have seen media houses both from regional states like the Amhara Mass Media Agency as well as those at the federal level targeting Tigryans. They labeled the past 27 years as the “age of darkness”. All positive developments done during those years were overshadowed by this narrative and people from Tigray were blamed for it. We also believe that both top and lower level officials are intentionally targeted just because they are ethnic Tigreans. So, currently, there is this campaign and propaganda targeting Tigreans. For instance, if we mentioned the case of Brig. Gen. Kinfe (Dagnew) [former Director General of METEC], we were the ones who agreed to hand him over to the federal government. However, the way he was treated later on was unacceptable. This was done because he is from Tigray. We see a former military officer, who defected with many of his soldiers to Cairo; being received and applauded at the airport where as a general who served his country was shamed and embarrassed. Not only that, there were a number of officials who were selectively removed from their jobs as well as arrested just because they are from Tigray. All in all, those things are bizarre for me. They also accused the TPLF or Tigray whenever there is any incident in the country. We have tried to share our concerns to the federal government as well as the Amhara Regional State. Now we seen the camping against Tigray is being formalized. For instance, the House of Federation just recently said that Tigray was more beneficial in terms of road infrastructure. We see those campaigns and propagandas targeting Tigray being formalized. So, if the government continues to do that, there is no reason for us to continue working with such kind of government unless otherwise they fix the problem. Not only that, this will have a grave consequence and the country will dismantle. After seeing all this, people are frustrated and the dominant thinking is why we should continue to work with such government. Yes, there is a growing feeling among the public. It is only us who are saying that we shouldn’t resort to such feelings. We, as the regional government, are telling our people that those problems will be solved and we are telling them to be patient. However, the pressure from the public is different. People even tell me that I shouldn’t go for meetings to Addis Ababa. All those things pushed the people to the edge. They feel hopeless and are saying that we should secede from Ethiopia. We are not going into the details. But I personally believe that accusations against him are false or fabricated. However, I am not saying that there were no mistakes. However, we have seen former spy agents who are now arrested. In some cases, some of those agents were accused of spying on Asmara, Eritrea, which is unacceptable. We have never seen such things in any country. These people have served their country. Their case is just incredible. For me, these individuals must be released but if these people including Getachew committed other crimes as individuals, they have to be held accountable. However, these people are arrested because they are from Tigray. Not only Getachew but when it comes to others there is nothing that these people acted upon without the consent or knowledge of the then Prime Minister even when it comes to gathering intelligence. So you can’t just arrest Getachew only. If there is anything Getachew is suspected of, the then Prime Minister has to be held accountable. If you are only going to arrest Getachew, it will be politics not about holding people accountable. Read more »
  • South Sudanese parties have finally signed the revitalized peace agreement

    South Sudanese parties have finally signed the revitalized peace agreement ending a five year-conflict that devastated the new nations and dashed all the hope and support that generated by the independence of the east African nation. The final text was signed by all the parties including President Salva Kiir, SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar, South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), Gabriel Chang Changson, SPLM- FDs leading member Deng Alor. In statements after the signing ceremony, the information minister Michael Makuei welcomed the signing of the revitalized peace agreement by all the parties and said that his government from now on wards will start the implementation process. "My Appeal to the people of South Sudan is that let’s forgive ourselves, let’s work together for the whole interest of our people," he said. The signing ceremony took place at the end of IGAD leaders meeting who endorsed with the approval of President Kiir some amendments to address the concern of the South Sudanese opposition parties. The SPLM-IO and the SSOA voiced concerns over the number of states and demarcation of the tribal and state boundaries, the decision-making In the Presidency, Legislator, Council of Ministers. and state and local governments and the procedures of the permanent constitutional-making process. Also, they asked that Kenya and Ethiopia join Sudan and Uganda who will deploy troops in South Sudan to ensure the full commitment of the parties to the agreement. For the referendum on the number and boundaries of states; the question that shall be posed in the referendum "shall be the same for the entire country unless it is decided in the RCNBS that each State shall have different question or set of questions more understandable to the people," says the signed deal. Also, Annex D which provides to ask South Sudanese to choose between 32 or 10 states, was reinstated. It is now Annex E. For the permanent constitution, it will be drafted by the Constitutional Review Commission (NCRC) and submitted for the National Constitutional Conference, in response to the opposition request. The deal also set a number of rules to govern the decision-making process at the presidency, the government and the parliament particularly when the parties fail to reach a collegial decision. The details can be seen in the text of the agreement hereunder. However, the Quorum in the Council of Ministers shall continue as 23 provided that at least six(6) of them are from the Opposition. However, the agreement seemingly didn’t consider the opposition request to add Kenya and Ethiopia to the guarantors (Sudan and Uganda) tasked with the monitoring of the ceasefire. "The current monitoring and verification mechanism shall be restructured and reconstituted into the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement, Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM). It shall be led by Sudan and Uganda," says the agreement. For the deployment of Ethiopian and Kenyan troops, the deal provides issue of deployment of the RPF shall be handled through the engagement of IGAD and the UN Security Council. Ethiopia is already present in South Sudan as the peacekeeping operation which is part of the monitoring mechanism. Kenya was part of the UN mission but withdrew its troops after a UN reporting blaming the UNMISS force commander, a Kenyan general for not taking the necessary measure to protect civilians in July 2016. Hereunder a link to the full text of the revitalized peace agreement. ( Read more »
  • Who should be the next WHO Director-General

    A new Director-General for the WHO will be voted on by UN Member States at the Seventieth World Health Assembly in May. It is the first year that the vote is open to the organization’s entire 194 country membership instead of just the Executive Board. Following in this spirit of transparency, we at GBC Health thought it might be interesting to offer our partners the opportunity to have an early vote on the final three candidates.

    http://www.gbchealth.org/poll-who-should-be-the-next-who-director-general/

    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

    Candidate Statement: A visionary leader, he guided Ethiopia and numerous global health organizations to achieve game-changing results and increase their impact. An experienced reformer, he transformed Ethiopia’s health system to expand quality care and access to tens of millions of Ethiopians, and helped key global actors like The Global Fund and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership operate with greater efficiency and effectiveness. And, a skilled diplomat, his collaborative, context-specific, and solutions-oriented approach to global health and international relations is respected worldwide.

    Our world has changed. Today, we face unprecedented health threats – from pandemics, to antibiotic-resistant infections, to climate change.  We need a strong and effective World Health Organization to meet these challenges.  As Director-General, Dr. Tedros’ vision, collaborative approach and proven effectiveness will help WHO better protect the health of all people.

     

    David Nabarro

    Our world is challenged by a changing climate, violent conflict, persistent poverty and mass migration. The benefits of globalization and new technologies remain unequally shared. As a result, people face an ever-growing avalanche of threats to their health. I have worked on such issues for over 40 years. As I see it, the need for a robust, reliable and responsive World Health Organization has never been more urgent.

    All my professional life I have been working in public health – as a community-based practitioner, educator, public servant, director, diplomat and coordinator. In the past 12 years, successive Secretaries-General of the United Nations have entrusted me to lead collective action on pressing and complex challenges – responding to avian and pandemic influenza, promoting food security, ending malnutrition, combating Ebola, promoting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and advancing efforts relating to climate change.

    I want to be sure that WHO is in a position to be the undisputed leader on all health issues. WHO must constantly strive for excellence in people’s health and health systems everywhere. WHO should, through its Member States and collaborating centres, nurture fullest attainment of people’s health in all communities. WHO’s performance should lead it to be recognized as the world’s specialized agency for health, earning and maintaining trust of governments, communities and people.

     

    Sania Nishtar

    Dr. Sania Nishtar, best known for her bold and transformational leadership in health, is a prominent candidate for Director-General of the World Health Organization. A combination of high-level experience in government, civil society and in multilateral institutions, as well as her background as a physician, scientist and thought leader on public health, uniquely position her to drive the reform of the WHO, ensuring its fitness to deal with the health challenges of the 21st century. In every role she has taken on, her defining feature has been her ability to deliver results with high integrity. Her skills and experience range across institution-building, public policy, research, advocacy and service delivery and would make her one of the most qualified Director-Generals in the history of the WHO. She is the leader that the world needs to take the helm at WHO.

    Read more »
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