Eritrea Against ‘Balkanisation’ of Ethiopia-“Isaias has an unbending belief in the existence of a UE

Updated: May 11

Eritrea Against ‘Balkanisation’ of Ethiopia

- “Isaias has an unbending belief in the existence of a united Ethiopia.”

Read Brief Arguments, Published by EP on 10 May, 2020.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) put its intentions in writing in the organisation’s manifesto known as the “Republic of Greater Tigray.” Drafted by TPLF leaders in 1976, the declaration sets forth an elaborate plan for the liberation of Tigray from Ethiopian rule.

Picture 01: Manifesto 1976: The Republic of Greater Tigrai Map

The plan involves two main steps: 1) re-demarcating Tigray’s borders to expand the region’s boundaries within Ethiopia, and 2) acquiring coastal lands within Eritrea and seceding as an independent nation. The need to annex parts of Abay River was added later.

Benshangul-Gumuz region created (pictured 01) from the westernmost portion of the Gojjam province (the part north of the Abay River), and the northwestern portion of the Welega Province (the part south of the Abay) as “political associates” along with Gambella and Afar regions to incorporate them into the “Greater Tigray” following the adoption of the 1995 constitution which Eritrea heavily argued against with TPLF.

Picture 02: Top officials of TPLF, including the late Prime Minister of Meles Zenawi

The TPLF led EPRDF government had taken several actions that seem to adhere to the plans outlined in the manifesto since it took over Ethiopia’s central government in 1991. For example, the TPLF/EPRDF has dramatically developed ethnic federalism policy to pursue the creation of the “Greater Tigray” since they came to power.

Before 1991, Tigray was territorially limited and economically under developed. Since the Ethnic Cleansing Revolution, in addition to trying to acquire Badme from Eritrea, Tigray has successfully annexed fertile lands from the neighbouring regions of Wollo and Gondar within Ethiopia.

However, when compared with other Ethiopian provinces, Tigray has not experienced excessive economic growth and development since 1991. Its people still lack clean drinking water, sanitation, sewage disposal and electricity.

Soon after coming to power, the EPRDF

Picture 03: Ethiopia Rivers Basin Geo.

established the Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigray (or “EFFORT”) with a considerable amount of Ethiopian capital. Through the EFFORT program, corrupt TPLF/EPRDF top officials have diverted vast quantities of government resources and international aid to their pockets. As a result, Tigray has not experienced ‘organic’ commercial growth.

Picture 04: EFFORT Subsides Company

TPLF officials were abusing the international legal principles of democracy and self-determination to further their illegitimate aims. By declaring itself to be a democracy, Ethiopia has been able to secure financial aid from Western nations, including the United States.

Along with resources obtained from other regions within Ethiopia, this international aid had been diverted by the TPLF-dominated central government to develop their army bases in Tigray. Furthermore, and the saddest thing of all, the TPLF used Ethiopian soldiers to fight the war against Eritrea on its behalf in an attempt to expand the borders of Tigray.

More evidence comes from the 1998-2000 border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The “dispute” perfectly comports with the TPLF manifesto when one considers what could have happened if Ethiopia had won.

The Tigray region has always had one major weakness: it is landlocked. When Eritrea seceded in 1993, it took all the Red Sea with it according to the recognised colonial border. If Ethiopia had not failed to defeat the Eritrean army in the region of Burie during the 1998-2000 border

Picture 05: Ethiopian Army Marching to War

dispute, it would have cut off Eritrea’s access to its port city of Assab. Also, according to the 1976 manifesto, Assab borders certain Ethiopian lands within the borders of “Greater Tigray”, Thus, annexing Assab from Eritrea would have allowed the TPLF to “liberate” regions of “Greater Tigray” and gain access to the Red Sea per the manifesto.

Finally, Ethiopia’s 1994 Constitution also conforms to the 1976 TPLF manifesto by giving Tigray a “legal” means for secession from Ethiopia.

One might argue that by granting the right to secede to all “Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples” the TPLF limited its ability to exploit other regions of Ethiopia.

After all, if other regions felt the EPRDF was exploiting them, they would probably secede themselves. However, other regions of Ethiopia have tried to secede under Article 39, and the TPLF/EPRDF has used violence and underhanded politics to undermine them.

In particular, the EPRDF has repeatedly suppressed calls for independence by members of the Oromo ethnic and Ethio-Somalis living in the Ogaden (See The TPLF Ethiopia, supra note 7; Ogaden Human Rights Committee, Background, OGADEN ONLINE (2002))

Picture 06: Crisis in Oromo-Ogaden


According to the TPLF’s manifesto, Tigray plans to secede from Ethiopia and leave a fragmented, weak Ethiopia behind for security measures. To this end, the TPLF/EPRDF has created a Constitution that will allow them to secede. If Tigray secedes, it will leave Ethiopia in chaos. With no central leadership and stripped of its resources, Ethiopia might cease to exist. Ethiopia’s Balkanisation would likely create high instability in the Horn of Africa; hence neighbouring Eritrea will still have to work hard to prevent just that.

Picture 07: President“Isaias has an unbending belief in the existence of a united Ethiopia.”

Dr Kassa Kebede, former minister and diplomat of the Ethiopian Government under Dergue, and some called him Mengistu’s uncle [?], cited closed-door negotiations and backdoor meetings held with leaders of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) before Eritrea’s independence. He said that “President Isaias Afwerki has an unbending belief in the existence of a united Ethiopia” and that he is a living witness to this belief held by the Eritrean President.

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