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Tigray Interim Gov’t fears identity questions could hinder its activities

Tigray’s Interim Government fears identity questions could hinder its functions of executing the duties and responsibilities it is given by the central government.

Speaking to The Reporter on what challenges and opportunities they expect when they begin to function as a regional government in Tigray, the CEO of the interim administration Mulu Nega (PhD) said that lingering identity and land claims from the Amhara region could hinder its activities in the region.

According to the CEO, although he believes that there is no intent from the Amhara regional administration to claim land within Tigray, people could claim land and identity within Tigray region because of misunderstanding pertaining to the operation on the ground.

Although responding to such claims and requests is not in the administration’s job description, he added, it could be a hurdle in conducting tasks according to the charter being drafted.

Sisay Mengistie (PhD), an assistant professor of law at Addis Ababa University’s school of law, also concurs that this is a potential challenge for the interim administration. According to him, Raya, Telemt and Wolkait areas where claims of land and identity were rampant for years are now jubilant that they are set free and they might not want to return to be administered under Tigray region.

On the other hand, Mulu said that the interim administration charter which serves as a guide to its operations is set to be completed next month and it will be sent to the Federal Attorney General for review and approval.

As an opportunity, Mulu counts on support from the public despite his admittance that they might face legitimacy and acceptance challenges at first because of what he described as ‘various propaganda messages fed to the public in the past.’

“This resistance to accept us will obviously be short lived,” he asserts.

He also sees that they might face challenges in ensuring peace and security in the area.

The plan for the interim administration is to change leadership at region and zonal levels, maintaining woreda and kebele administrations intact. They plan to get acceptance through consultations with the public and allowing public participation in the selection of officials appointed to lead institutions.

Currently, five people are coordinating the establishment of the interim administration that will be led by the charter.

Sisay, for his part, sees the hopefully peaceful relation the region will have with neighboring regions as well as the anticipated huge support from the federal government to restore destroyed infrastructure and resume suspended services would play enabling roles for the administration.

But, he observes, time is against the administration as it only stays in power until the sixth election is held in May or June, 2021. Sisay adds: ‘election by itself takes much energy and time and coupled with other tasks the administration needs to carry out, including ensuring peace and security, it would challenge the administration’s activities.’