Sunday, December 29, 2019

Amhara-Tigray Discussion Forum Sees People from Two Regions as One with Shared History
“Nothing can separate the people of Amhara and Tigray, ” a key message from the Amhara-Tigray discussion forum.

Members of elders’ council during the forum. Photo credit : Ministry of Peace

December 26, 2019

No ethnic-based war between Tigray and Amhara is recorded in Ethiopian history. All that is known is the power struggle between feudal lords as was the case in different parts of Ethiopia. Because the power struggle in history, especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, was primarily based on regionalism. Just like there was a power struggle between Shoa and Gonder, Wollo and Shewa, between Shewa and Gojjam, there was a power struggle between Tigray and Gonder or Shoa and Tigray.

Since Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) started the struggle for power the narrative changed fundamentally. Political elites from the organization painted a picture of the past where Tigreans, and other Ethiopians, were oppressed by Amhara – the Euphemism they used is Neftegna.

This propaganda was sustained throughout the 27 years rule of TPLF between 1991 and 2018.

When TPLF leaders lost power after the ruling coalition elected Abiy Ahmed as prime minister, all the key figures retreated to Tigray.

Something else happened too. The ruling coalition that TPLF crafted as a tool to maintain power, EPRDF, abandoned TPLF born political ideology, and merged itself to form a single party called Prosperity Party. TPLF not only rejected the new party but also it is creating an image as if an imminent danger is hovering on the people of Tigray.

There have been concerns that there could even be a war between Tigray and Amhara region as TPLF appeared to prepare for war and agitate people it Tigray for it. For that reason, there have been forums organized to discuss these concerns.

In November of this year, among others, intellectuals from Amhara and Tigray region organized a meeting to discuss various topics about ways of strengthening the relationship of people from these regions. There were peace forum in Mekelle in 2018,too.

Today , Amhara-Tigray Discussion Forum, is organized in Addis Ababa; this time a government ministry is involved as an organizing actor.

The forum was organized with the objective “Let’s resolve internal problems through dialogue so as to strengthen our multinational unity.”

It was organized by the Ministry of Peace, a ministry with a powerful mandate and legal authority in the country, in cooperation with Prison Fellowship Ethiopia.

Elders, senior government officials and community members from all walks of life have participated in the discussion, as reported by Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC).

Among dominant issues that emerged during the discussion is that Amhara-Tigray people have a lot of things that bind them together than those who separate them.

State Minister in the Ministry of Peace, Almaz Mekonen, said not only people from the two regions are interrelated culturally, linguistically and religiously, they also have a history of unity from the point of view of building the Ethiopian nation and protecting it. Nothing can separate Amhara-Tigray people, she said.

She also pointed out that there is no problem between the people from the two regions of Ethiopia at this point.

However, it was noted in the discussion that the problem is between opportunist politicians and activists from the two regions.

Part of the reason that necessitated the discussion forum is not to give those problems between politicians and activists a chance to negatively affect the relationship between people in Tigray and Amhara regions.

Seen from that trajectory, the discussion also seems to have an objective to resolve problems even among politicians and activists.

The Council of Elders, which includes notable figures like Haile Gebreselassie, among others, expressed the view that Amhara and Tigray people have lived together in peace and love, and have contributed immensely to the unity of the country.

Elders also called on mass media, intellectuals, and activists to refrain from practices that aggravate differences and rather work on common values.

Last week, a similar forum was organized in Addis Ababa with the aim to tackle ethnic-based clashes between Amhara and Oromo. But this one was a forum between political parties operating in these regions.

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