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Arena, TAND sign agreement of cooperation

Arena Tigray For Democracy and Sovereignty (Arena)–established by former members of the Tigryan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) due to a rift within the party–and the Tigray Alliance for National Democracy (TAND)–founded by a former chairperson of the TPLF and other senior members of the party in exile–have signed an agreement to work together and perhaps a possible merge of the two parties in the future, deputy chairperson of Arena, Goytom Tsegay, told The Reporter.

The deputies of the two parties signed the agreement at a ceremony held on Thursday, October 25, 2018.

“Even though it was informal, we used to communicate and discuss over various issues. However, the current agreement between the two is formal and the result of a thorough discussion with leaders of TAND,” Goytom further explained.

According to Goytom, the two sides agreed on various issues they can cooperate on to bring about a substantiated change in the country. However, the major areas that the agreement revolves around include issues of land ownership, Article 39 of the Constitution, the question of ethnicity, the general political landscape of the country and ideology.

Hence, regarding the ownership of land, the two parties have aimed at a direction that land is a property of all Ethiopian peoples. Concerning the issues of Article 39 of the constitution and ethnicity; the two sides have stated that having a constitution that allows secession by itself is not a problem. All the political problems including the ones related to ethnicity is the result of a failure to establish a democratic political system. Therefore, once a democratic political system is installed many of the political problems would be addressed. However, we want to address all the issues within the Ethiopian context, Goytom highlighted.

Moreover, concerning the general political landscape of the country, the two sides put a direction to work in collaboration with other political parties in the country. In this regard, Goytom told The Reporter that “even though we mobilize our supports in Tigray that doesn’t mean that we are only operational in the region, we understand the significance of cooperation with other national or regional parties like we are doing with Medrek currently, and hence, we take into consideration the contribution of other parties.” 

Similarly, the issue of ideology; even though the two have their own programs through and different ideologies–which are liberal democracy and social democracy for Arena and TAND respectively–Goytom highlighted that the ideological difference does not stop them from working together “since most of our political programs and ideas are similar, hence, the difference in ideology is just simply the matter of naming and I don’t think this will be a problem.”

Arena is one of the parties in Medrek, a coalition of four political parties. Other parties within the coalition includes: the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), the Sidama Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Ethiopian Social Democracy Party (ESDP).

TAND is a party which was established some 24 years ago in exile and returned home recently. The party was mainly founded by former chairperson of TPLF Aregawi Berhe, who left his position and went into exile during the struggle days, and other senior members of the same party such as Geday Zeratsion, who also left TPLF around the mid-80s.