Tigray People's Liberation Front

The Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) (Tigrinya: ህዝባዊ ወያነ ሓርነት ትግራይ (ህወሓት), romanized: ḥəzbawi wäyanä ḥarənnät təgray, lit.'Popular Struggle for the Freedom of Tigray') is a left-wing ethnic nationalist[7][8][9][10] paramilitary group,[11] now leading political party,[12] and former ruling party[13] of Ethiopia, established on 18 February 1975 in Dedebit, northwestern Tigray,[14] according to official records. Within 16 years, it had grown from about a dozen men into the most powerful armed liberation movement in Ethiopia.[15] It led a coalition of movements named the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) from 1989 to 2018. It fought a 15-year-long war against the Derg regime which was overthrown in 1991. Due largely to its war fighting capabilities, the TPLF was at the forefront in the defeat of the Derg.[16] It is widely known as Woyane, Weyane, Wayana (Tigrinya: ወያነ) or Wayane (Amharic: ወያኔ) in older texts and Amharic publications.[17] With the help of its former ally, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF), the TPLF overthrew the dictatorship of the People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (PDRE) and established a new government on 28 May 1991 that ruled Ethiopia[18] until it was ousted from power in the federal government in 2018.[19][20]

Tigray People's Liberation Front
ህዝባዊ ወያነ ሓርነት ትግራይ
AbbreviationTPLF
LeaderDebretsion Gebremichael
ChairmanDebretsion Gebremichael
Deputy ChairmanFetlework Gebregziabher
SpokespersonGetachew Reda[1]
Founded18 February 1975
Banned18 January 2021
HeadquartersMekelle
NewspaperWeyin (ወይን)
Membership (1991)100,000
Ideology Historical:
Political positionLeft-wing[citation needed]
Historical:
Far-left
National affiliationEthiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (1988–2018)
Coalition of Ethiopian Federalist Forces (2018–2020)
Regional affiliationTigray Defense Forces
ColorsRed and Gold
House of Peoples' Representatives
0 / 547
Council of Tigray Regional State' Representatives
152 / 190
Party flag
Infobox TPLF.png

On 18 January 2021, the National Election Board of Ethiopia terminated the party's registration, citing acts of violence and rebellion committed by the party's leadership against the Federal government in 2020, as well as a lack of representation.[21][22][23]

On 6 May, House of Peoples' Representatives in Ethiopia formally approved a parliamentary resolution designating the TPLF as a terrorist organization.[24][25]

HistoryEdit

OriginsEdit

The TPLF is, in a way, the product of the marginalization of the Tigray within Ethiopia after Menelik II of Shewa had become emperor in 1889. The Tigrayan traditional elite and peasantry had a strong regional identity and deeply resented the decline of Tigray.[26] Memories of the armed revolt of 1942-43 (the "first [qädamay] wäyyanä") against the re-establishment of imperial rule after Italian occupation remained alive and provided an important reference for the new generations of educated Tigrayan nationalists.[27]

At Haile Selassie I University (Addis Ababa University), from the early 1960s onwards, Tigrayan students created the Political Association of Tigrayans (PAT) in 1972 and the Tigrayan University Students' Association (TUSA). PAT developed into a radical nationalist group calling for the independence of Tigray, establishing the Tigray Liberation Front (TLF) in 1974. In TUSA emerged a Marxist trend favoring national self-determination for Tigray within a revolutionary transformed democratic Ethiopia.[28] Whereas the multinational left movements prioritized class struggle over the national self-determination of the Ethiopian nationalities, the Marxists of TUSA argued for self-determination as the launching pad for the ultimate socialist revolution, due to the existing inequalities among Ethiopian nationalities.[29]

1974–1977Edit

In February 1974, the Marxists within TUSA welcomed the Ethiopian Revolution but opposed the Derg (the military junta that ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1987) as they were convinced that it would neither lead a genuine socialist revolution nor correctly resolve the Ethiopian nationality question. Three days after the Derg took power, on 14 September 1974, seven leaders of this trend established the Association of Progressives of the Tigray Nation (Tigrinya: ማሕበር ገስገስቲ ብሔረ ትግራይ, Mahbär Gäsgästi Bəher Təgray), also known as Tigrayan National Organization (TNO): Alemseged Mengesha (nom de guerre: Haylu), Ammaha Tsehay (Abbay), Aregawi Berhe (Berhu), Embay Mesfin (Seyoum), Fentahun Zere'atsion (Gidey), Mulugeta Hagos (Asfeha) and Zeru Gesese (Agazi). TNO was to prepare the ground for the future armed movement of Tigray.[30]

It secretly approached both the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF) for support but the ELF already had relations with the TLF. In November 1974 the EPLF agreed to train TNO-members and allowed EPLF-fighters from the Tigrayan community in Eritrea, among them Mehari Tekle (Mussie), to join the TPLF. The first batch of trainees was sent to the EPLF in January 1975.[31]

On the night of 18 February 1975, eleven men including Gesese Ayyele (Sehul), Gidey, Asfeha, Seyoum, Agazi, and Berhu left Enda Selassie for Sehul's home area of Dedebit, where they established the TPLF (original name Tigrinya: ተጋድሎ ሓርነት ሕዝቢ ትግራይ, Tägadlo Harənnät Həzbi Təgray, "The Struggle for the Freedom of the People of Tigray"). Welde Selassie Nega (Sebhat), Legese Zenawi (Meles) and others soon joined the original group and, after the arrival of the trainees from Eritrea in June 1975, the TPLF had about 50 fighters.[30] It then chose a formal leadership composed of Sehul (Chairman), Muse (Military Commander) and the seven TNO-founders. Berhu was appointed as political commissioner. Sehul played a crucial role in helping the nascent TPLF to establish itself among the local peasantry.[32]

Although some successful raids established its military credibility, the TPLF grew to only about 120 fighters in early 1976, but a rapidly expanding clandestine network of supporters in the towns and support base among the peasantry provided vital supplies and intelligence. On 18 February 1976 a fighters' conference elected new leadership: Berhu (Chairman), Muse (Military Committee), Abbay (Political Committee), Agazi (Socio-Economic Committee), Seyoum (Foreign Relations), Gidey, and Sebhat.[14] Meles became head of the political cadre school.[14]

The first three years of its existence were marked by a constant struggle for survival, unstable cooperation with the Eritrean forces, and power struggles against the other Tigrayan fronts: in 1975 the TPLF liquidated the TLF, in 1976–78 it fought back the Ethiopian Democratic Union (EDU) in Shire and in 1978 it fought the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party (EPRP) in eastern Tigray. Besides this the Front had to suffer heavy losses due to the Derg's offensives in the region.[33]

Although the TPLF, the ELF and the EPLF co-operated during the Derg offensives of 1976 and 1978 in Tigray and Eritrea, no stable alliance was formed. The ELF resented the liquidation of the TLF and viewed the relations between the EPLF and the TPLF as a serious threat. Since 1977 the ELF and the TPLF had conflicts over the issue of Eritrean settlers in western Tigray, who were organized under the ELF and rejected the TPLF-land reform.[33]

Relations with the EPLF also did not develop smoothly. Its material support was much less than the TPLF expected. Politically the EPLF preferred the multi-national EPRP to the ethno-regionalist TPLF with its then separatist agenda.[33]

1978–1990Edit

Following the Derg's victory in the Ogaden War in February 1978, Mengestu Haile Mariam's new alliance with the Soviets and the revolutionary growth of his armed forces, the TPLF momentum seemed to slow.[34]

In February 1979 the TPLF held its first regular congress. It declared its struggle to be the second wäyyanä (kalay wäyyanä) and changed its Tigrinya name to Həzbawi Wäyyanä Harənnätä Təgray. It adopted a new political program calling for self-determination within a democratic Ethiopia with independence as an option only if unity proved to be impossible.[35]

Winning and maintaining the support of the local population was at the heart of the TPLF’s strategy during the 1970s and 1980s. TPLF leaders understood that the goodwill of the population would sustain their movement and ultimately propel it to victory over the Derg. Consequently, any fighter caught abusing locals was punished or even executed by TPLF authorities. As a result, local support for the TPLF was consistent and invaluable. The local population shared food and resources with fighters, provided them with safe havens, and most critically, they supplied the TPLF with timely intelligence.[16] In retrospect, it is apparent that the 1978–1985 period further strengthened the TPLF. The Derg's increasingly alienating intervention, the Front's handling of the famine and of the refugee problems, as well as the foreign connections it built through its mission in Khartoum, all enabled the movement to mobilize and better equip more fighters and prepare for a change from guerrilla to frontal battles. Also, in the mid-1980s, developments within the TPLF led to a conceptual change from a struggle for the liberation of Tigray to that of all of Ethiopia.[36] They established their headquarters in caves in Addi Geza'iti, some 50 kilometres west of Mekelle.[37] The Ethiopian People's Democratic Movement (EPDM), a TPLF-loyal splinter group from the EPRP, used caves in Melfa (Dogu'a Tembien).

 
Signboard for EPDM/ANLF headquarters in Melfa (Dogu'a Tembien) during the Ethiopian Civil War.

The TPLF succeeded in turning the catastrophic famine of 1984–85 to its overall advantage. In early 1985 it organized a march of over 200,000 famine victims from Tigray to Sudan to draw international attention to the plight of Tigray. Its humanitarian branch, the Relief Society of Tigray (REST), established in 1978, received large amounts of international humanitarian aid for famine victims and small-scale development projects in liberated Tigray.[36]

In July 1985, a congress of a few hundred selected cadres established the Marxist–Leninist League of Tigray (MLLT). The MLLT was conceived to be the nucleus of the future Marxist-Leninst vanguard part for the whole of Ethiopia. The MLLT invited the genuine revolutionaries within the ranks of Derg regime, which was then busy organizing its own communist party, the Ethiopian Workers' Party, to join it.[31]

After the congress, the TPLF and its mass organizations were ruthlessly brought under the control of the MLLT, dissenting cadres among them TPLF-co-founders Gidey and Berhu, were purged.

In December 1988, the TPLF and EPDM founded the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) as the nucleus of the envisaged United Democratic Front. In spring 1989 first the MLLT and then the TPLF held a congress. Abbay was elected Chairman of both but towards the end of 1989 Meles became the chairman of both organizations. In May 1989 the EPDM established the Ethiopian Marxist-Leninist Force (EMLF). In July 1989 MLLT and EMLF created the Union of Ethiopian Proletarian Organizations. In April 1990 the TPLF formed the Ethiopian Democratic Officers Movement from politically re-educated captured Ethiopian officers to undercut the Free Officers Movement formed in 1987 by exiled Ethiopian officers in opposition to the Derg.[38] In May 1990 Oromo-members of the EPDM and politically re-educated Oromo-Prisoners-of-War founded the Oromo Peoples' Democratic Organization (OPDO) to deny the Oromo Liberation Front the claim to be the exclusive representative of the Ethiopian Oromo.[18] In November 1990 an Oromo Marxist-Leninist Movement was established within the OPDO. Also in 1990 the TPLF created the Afar Democratic Union to undercut the Afar movements. Before 1985 it had already helped to establish liberation fronts in Gambella and Benshangul.

In early 1988, the EPLF and the TPLF went on the offensive. The developing situation in both Eritrea and Tigray but also the shifting international context after the demise of the Soviet bloc induced the TPLF and EPLF to put their differences aside and to resume military cooperation. In 1989 the EPRDF formed a shadow government of Ethiopia administering the liberated areas under its control.[39]

1991–2018Edit

In February 1991 the EPRDF launched its offensive against the governing regime assisted by a large EPLF contingent. On 28 May 1991, the EPRDF entered Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and assumed control of Ethiopia. In July 1991, the EPRDF established the Transitional Government of Ethiopia.[40] In May 1991, the TPLF had 80,000 fighters, the EPDM 8,000 and the OPDO 2,000. The total number of TPLF-members was well beyond 100,000.[14]

Reacting to the international political context after the demise of communism, the EPRDF and TPLF dropped all Marxist references in their political discourse and adopted a program of change based on multi-party politics, constitutional democracy, ethno-linguistic federalization and a mixed economy.[14]

Under the EPRDF, Ethiopia was governed as an ethnically federal, dominant-party state. Meles Zenawi, a member of the TPLF, served as Prime Minister until his death in 2012.[41] During EPRDF rule, Ethiopia retained authoritarianism and shifted from a one-party state to a dominant-party state.[citation needed]

In opposition: 2018–2020Edit

In November 2019, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front chairman unified the constituent parties of the coalition into a new Prosperity Party. The TPLF viewed this merger as illegal and did not participate in the merger.[42]

From the start of January 2020, the TPLF were involved in activities that were criticised by the federal government. In September 2020, the TPLF asked the National Election Board of Ethiopia to help Tigray set up regional elections after Birtukan Mideksa, the election board president canceled elections due to COVID-19. After the board refused the request, the TPLF worked with opposition parties in Tigray to set up its own election board to oversee their regional elections.[43] The 2020 Tigray regional election was held on 9 September 2020. It was open to international observers[clarification needed], boycotted by Arena Tigray[44] and the Tigray Democratic Party[45] and 2.7 million people participated in the election. Prime Minister Ahmed stated that the federal government would not recognize the results of the election and banned foreign journalists from traveling to Tigray to document the elections.[46]

2020–2021: Tigray WarEdit

In November 2020, a civil conflict was started after TPLF allegedly committed treason against the Ethiopian National Defence Force. The conflict caused unknown number of deaths, and unknown number of refugees have been displaced. The Prime Minister declared victory over TPLF. TPLF accuses ENDF and Eritrean forces of war crimes. These claims are corroborated by videos of war crimes circulated mainly by the US-based Tigrai Media House. As of April 2021, it is difficult to independently verify these claims because of the media blackout that has been imposed by the Federal Government under Abiy. Other sources imply that the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) is actually in control of only about 70% of the Tigray whole region. Some of TPLF leaders are dead, others are in hiding and or fighting, and some are in prison. Many TPLF members have joined the Tigray Defense Forces.[47] On 23 March 2021, the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed acknowledged for the first time that Eritrean military forces have been in the Tigray region after international pressure.[48]

Election resultsEdit

Elections from 1995 to 2015 were conducted under the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front banner.

Election Leader No. of Votes No. of seats won Government/Opposition
1995 Government
2000
152 / 152
Government
2005
152 / 152
Government
2010
152 / 152
Government
2015 Abay Weldu 2,374,574
152 / 152
Government
2020 Tigray regional election Debretsion Gebremichael 2,590,620
152 / 190
Government

Accusations of terrorismEdit

The United States government, as per an Agence France-Presse fact checking initiative,[49] has not designated the TPLF as a terrorist entity. However, an analysis by Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium also known as TRAC, has listed them as a terrorist group as far back as 1976 on the Global Terrorism Database. TRAC report: "The Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) is a political party in Tigray, Ethiopia that has been listed as a perpetrator in the Global Terrorism Database, based on ten incidents occurring between 1976 and 1990 (see GTD link)."[50]

On 1 May 2021, the federal government of Ethiopia formally approved a parliamentary resolution designating the TPLF as a terrorist organization. Under Article 23, "this decision will become applicable to organizations and individuals who collaborate, have links with or relate to the ideas and actions of the designated terrorist organizations and others who have engaged in similar activities."[51] However, individuals or organisations “engaged in humanitarian activities” are exempt, as per Ethiopian anti-terrorism proclamation 1176/2020.[52]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Getachew Reda talks about the state of war situation in Tigray". 7 November 2020. Archived from the original on 19 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  2. ^ Tefera Negash Gebregziabher (2019). "Ideology and power in TPLF's Ethiopia: A historic reversal in the making?". African Affairs. 118 (472): 463–484. doi:10.1093/afraf/adz005.
  3. ^ "Napalm statt Hirse" [Napalm instead of millet]. Die Zeit (in German). 1 June 1990.
  4. ^ "Kriege ohne Grenzen und das "erfolgreiche Scheitern" der Staaten am Horn von Afrika" [Wars without borders and the 'successful failure' of the states in the Horn of Africa] (PDF). Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (in German). Berlin. September 2008.
  5. ^ "Parlamentswahlen in Äthiopien" [Parliamentary elections in Ethiopia] (PDF). Social Science Open Access Repository (in German). 2005.
  6. ^ a b c Tefera Negash Gebregziabher, Ideology and power in TPLF’s Ethiopia: A historic reversal in the making?, African Affairs, Volume 118, Issue 472, July 2019, Pages 463–484, https://doi.org/10.1093/afraf/adz005
  7. ^ Tefera Negash Gebregziabher (2019). "Ideology and power in TPLF's Ethiopia: A historic reversal in the making?". African Affairs. 118 (472): 463–484. doi:10.1093/afraf/adz005.
  8. ^ "Napalm statt Hirse" [Napalm instead of millet]. Die Zeit (in German). 1 June 1990.
  9. ^ "Kriege ohne Grenzen und das "erfolgreiche Scheitern" der Staaten am Horn von Afrika" [Wars without borders and the 'successful failure' of the states in the Horn of Africa] (PDF). Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (in German). Berlin. September 2008.
  10. ^ "Parlamentswahlen in Äthiopien" [Parliamentary elections in Ethiopia] (PDF). Social Science Open Access Repository (in German). 2005.
  11. ^ Parkinson, Nicholas Bariyo and Joe (2020-11-29). "Ethiopia's Tigray Group, Once Powerful, Now Battles Government Forces in Bid for Survival". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  12. ^ "Diaspora Protesters in US, Canada Back Ethiopian Government's Handling of Tigray Conflict | Voice of America – English". www.voanews.com. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  13. ^ "Rise and fall of Ethiopia's TPLF – from rebels to rulers and back". The Guardian. 2020-11-25. Retrieved 2021-03-27.
  14. ^ a b c d e "Tigray People's Liberation Front". Encyclopaedia Aethiopica. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. 2003.
  15. ^ Berhe, Kahsay (2005). Ethiopia: Democratization and Unity: The Role of the Tigray People's Liberation Front. Münster.
  16. ^ a b Jamestown Foundation, 24 May: Tigray Defense Forces Resist Ethiopian Army Offensive as Sudan, Eritrea, and Ethnic Militias Enter the Fray
  17. ^ Kane, Thomas (2000). Tigrinya-English Dictionary, Volume 2. Springfield: Dunwoody. p. 1780.
  18. ^ a b Hammond, Jenny (1999). Fire from the Ashes: a Chronicle of the Revolution in Tigray, Ethiopia, 1975–1991. Lawrenceville.
  19. ^ "Tigray crisis: Ethiopia orders military response after army base seized". BBC News. 4 November 2020.
  20. ^ "Rise and fall of Ethiopia's TPLF – from rebels to rulers and back". the Guardian. 2020-11-25. Retrieved 2021-09-09.
  21. ^ "NEBE Cancels Registration Of TPLF". Fana. 4 November 2020. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  22. ^ Gebre, Samuel (18 January 2021). "Ethiopia Pulls Tigray Party License Ahead of June Elections". Bloomberg. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  23. ^ "Ethiopia's electoral board revokes TPLF's legal status as political party". The EastAfrican. 20 January 2021. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  24. ^ "Ethiopia designates TPLF, OLF-Shene as terror groups". www.aa.com.tr. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
  25. ^ "TPLF and Shene designated as terrorist organisations". Embassy of Ethiopia, London. 2021-05-07. Retrieved 2021-08-12.
  26. ^ Bennet, John (1983). "Tigrai: Famine and National Resistance". Review of African Political Economy. 10 (26): 94–102. doi:10.1080/03056248308703537.
  27. ^ Elich, Haggai (1981). "Tigraian Nationalism, British Involvement and Haila-Selasse's emerging Absolutism-Northern Ethiopia, 1941–1943". Asian and African Studies. 15 (2): 191–227.
  28. ^ Tadesse, Kiflu (1993). The Generation: The history of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party, Part 1: From the Early Beginnings to 1975. Trenton.
  29. ^ Balsvik, Randi (1985). Haile Selassie's Students: The Intellectual and Social background to a Revolution, 1952–1977. East Lansing.
  30. ^ a b Berhe, Aregawi (2008). A Political History of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (1975–1991): Revolt, Ideology and Mobilisation in Ethiopia (PDF). The Horn of Africa Research and Knowledge Exchange Platform: HAREP. Amsterdam. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-08-19. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  31. ^ a b Berhe, Aregawi (2004). "The Origins of the Tigray People's Liberation Front". African Affairs. 103 (413): 569–592. doi:10.1093/afraf/adh024.
  32. ^ Firebrace, James; Smith, Gayle (1982). The Hidden Revolution: and Analysis of Social Change in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. London.
  33. ^ a b c Tareke, Gebru (2009). The Ethiopian Revolution: War in the Horn of Africa. New Haven. pp. 76–177.
  34. ^ Tareke, Gebry (2004). "From Af Abet to Shire: the Defeat and Demise of Ethiopia's "Red" Army 1988–89". Journal of Modern African Studies. 42 (2): 239–81. doi:10.1017/S0022278X04000114. S2CID 153565062.
  35. ^ Berhe, Kahsay (1991). The National Movement in Tigray Myths and Realities. Münster.
  36. ^ a b Hammond, Jenny (1989). Sweeter than Honey: Testimonies of Tigrayan Women. Oxford.
  37. ^ Smidt, W (2019). "A Short History and Ethnography of the Tembien Tigrayans". Geo-trekking in Ethiopia's Tropical Mountains. GeoGuide. Springer Nature. pp. 63–78. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-04955-3_4. ISBN 978-3-030-04954-6.
  38. ^ Tadesse, Kiflu (1998). The Generation: The history of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Party, Part 2: Ethiopia-Transformation and Conflict. Lanham.
  39. ^ Young, John (1997). Peasant Revolutions in Ethiopia, the Tigrai People's Liberation Front, 1975-1911. Cambridge.
  40. ^ Department Of State. The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs. "Ethiopia (10/08)". 2001-2009.state.gov. Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  41. ^ "Rise and fall of Ethiopia's TPLF – from rebels to rulers and back". The Guardian. 25 November 2020. Archived from the original on 15 February 2021. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  42. ^ Exclusive: Third day EPRDF EC discussing "Prosperity Party" Regulation. Find the draft copy obtained by AS
  43. ^ "Ethiopia's Tigray region defies PM Abiy with 'illegal' election". France 24. 2020-09-09. Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  44. ^ "Arena shies away from Tigray Regional election". Addis Fortune. 2020-08-01. Archived from the original on 2020-12-16. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  45. ^ "News: Tigray state council approves appointment of regional electoral commission officials". Addis Standard. 2020-07-16. Archived from the original on 2020-12-16. Retrieved 2020-12-16.
  46. ^ "Ethiopia bars journalists from flying to Tigray regional vote, passengers say". Reuters. 2020-09-07. Retrieved 2020-09-10.
  47. ^ Lefort, René (30 April 2021). "Ethiopia's war in Tigray is 'but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to conflicts ravaging the country'". The Africa Report. Retrieved 5 May 2021. Last year, Tigray’s leaders underestimated their weaknesses. The region’s security forces were swept away in the conventional conflict and largely unprepared to shift to guerrilla warfare after Mekelle was captured on 28 November. Even the grassroots party-state apparatus has vanished. In a 27 March phone discussion with Alex de Waal [Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation and a professor at the Fletcher School, Tufts University], the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) veteran Mulugeta Gebrehiwot, who has joined the armed struggle, said: “the former administration of the TPLF has collapsed… The administrators just ran away.” He added that four and half months after the war started, “there is a zonal army that is organised in several places,” which means this is not the case everywhere in Tigray. The Tigray Defense Forces (TDF) and TPLF leadership have since avoided being wiped out, thanks to the resistance against the ‘invasion’ which has been spontaneously and autonomously built from both the civilian and militia grassroots and among scattered TDF units. The Tigrayans then came back to their age-old structure: the villages’ self-organisation. “The farmers in each locality asked [the administrators] not to return back; they said ‘we don’t need you, we will choose our own,’” said Mulugeta. “So, at the village level, they have a committee of seven, sometimes without any former cadre.” In Tigray, the power pyramid was top-heavy. That top has been broken and is under reconstruction. At this stage, the most solid part of the pyramid lies at its bottom. The main Tigrayan war force now is the village-level popular resistance and the TDF military apparatus, which has been progressively regrouped from the remnants of the regional security forces and defected Tigrayan federal soldiers. This resistance will not be crushed even if the top leaders of the ‘junta’ are killed or captured.
  48. ^ "Ethiopia PM Ahmed Abiy admits Eritrea forces in Tigray". BBC News. 2021-03-23. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  49. ^ "US has not assigned terrorist status to dissident group in Ethiopia's Tigray region". Fact Check. 2020-12-07. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  50. ^ "Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) | Terrorist Groups | TRAC". www.trackingterrorism.org. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  51. ^ "Council of Ministers approves resolution designating TPLF and Shene as terrorist organizations". Welcome to Fana Broadcasting Corporate S.C. Retrieved 2021-07-28.
  52. ^ https://chilot.me/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/A-PROCLAMATION-TO-PROVIDE-FOR-THE-PREVENTION-AND-SUPPRESSION-OF-TERRORISM-CRIMES.pdf