There were a series of meetings by almost all the chiefs of the regional states in...

Jun 14 , 2020

After they made a portentous decision last week in passing a resolution at the House of Federation where they are all members, there were a series of meetings by almost all the chiefs of the regional states in Addis Abeba. Almost; because there was a notable absence in their midst. The Vice President of the Tigray Regional State was not present, gossip disclosed.

It is symbolic of a slump in the relationship the Regional State has with those in charge of the federal government, claims gossip.

It is now self-evident that mega political structures are set in motion, thereby reinforcing each other in furthering polarisation, gossip observed. Two threshold events cemented this motion last week.

Members of the House of Federation have voted in favour - in overwhelming number - of postponing the national elections and extending the lease on life of the political force running the federal legislative houses and regional councils. In a few days, councillors of the Tigray Regional State have voted - unanimously - to hold elections in the Regional State before the term of the existing council comes to an end in the first week of October 2020.

It is a move that rebuffed the resolution made by the highest constitutional institution with the mandate to interpret the Constitution. Leaders of the governing party, the TPLF, strongly believe that the House of Federation has no business in interpreting what the Constitution omits or where there is no dispute over the understanding of a particular article in it, gossip says.

This was a position that forced one of their senior leaders, Keria Ibrahim, to resign from her role as Speaker of the House a day before the case was tabled before the House of Federation. She accused the public exercise of scholarly discussion as a ploy to legitimise the rise of “authoritarianism” in Ethiopia.

These set of actions and counteractions have a war of words by the TPLFites in Meqelle and Prosperitians in Addis Abeba as a backdrop, which deeply worry well-meaning Ethiopians of escalation in the tension, according to gossip.

Mesfin Araya, a medical doctor who is a prominent psychiatrist in Ethiopia, along with five others, has begun an effort to mediate between the two forces, shuttling between Addis Abeba and Meqelle, gossip disclosed. The group has eventually expanded to comprise 46 individuals from religious organisations, businesses, advocacy groups and elders, claims gossip.

Leaders of the four main religious groups - Muslim, Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant - are included, as are prominent individuals such as Haile Gebresellasie and Daniel Gebresellasie, a pastor running the Prison Fellowship Ethiopiat, gossip revealed. Businesspeople such as Gebreegziabher Gebremariam, a former athlete, Fisseha Asres and Negussie Hailu, as well as several elders from the regional states of Afar, Somali and Gambella, are incorporated into this group, disclosed gossip.

The group has received a positive nod from Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), head of the Tigray Regional State, to receive and give them an audience scheduled for Tuesday, June 16, gossip disclosed. Members of the group have booked a chartered flight from Ethiopian Airlines, expected to return the same day, gossip revealed. As a rare gesture of welcome, the group leaders were granted a waiver from a 14-day mandatory quarantine the state's council has imposed under a state of emergency decree, extended last week by 75 days, claims gossip.

The group aims to persuade both Addis Abeba and Meqelle to deescalate the growing tension between them, having a plan for a suspension on the war of words they have been firing at each other, claims gossip. Urging the authorities on both sides to impose restraint and discipline on the media under their respective controls is also what they hope to achieve, gossip disclosed.

PUBLISHED ON Jun 14,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1051]

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