The chairpersons of three opposition parties, the National Congress of Greater Tigray, Tigray Independence Party, and Salsay Woyane Tigray, found themselves in a turbulent series of events during a protest against the Tigray interim administration. Initially arrested, they were released, only to be apprehended again as additional security forces descended upon Mekelle city.
Alemseged Aregay, the deputy chairman and foreign affairs officer of the Tigray Independence Party, voiced his concerns, stating, "Tigray has devolved into a haven for lawlessness. Daily, countless lives are lost, and hunger ravages the land. Meanwhile, senior Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) officials roam the city in unmarked vehicles, behaving in a manner reminiscent of terrorists."
The "Alliance for Radical Change," a coalition of Tigray opposition parties, called for a September 7, 2023 protest. Their motivation stems from the perceived failure of the interim administration to uphold the rule of law and effectively implement the Pretoria Agreement.
Amdom Gebreselassie, Chairman of Arena Tigray for Democracy and Sovereignty, highlighted that one-third of Tigray's territory remains outside the interim administration's control, where allegations of human rights violations persist, seemingly ignored by authorities.
In an open letter outlining the objectives of the peaceful demonstration, the alliance emphasized its commitment "to combat this corrupt, incompetent, and totalitarian regime and, in doing so, bring about fundamental change in Tigray."
Alemseged pointed out that the interim administration, dominated by the TPLF, has only two members from competing parties, leaving 95 percent of its composition in the hands of TPLF representatives. The demonstration, therefore, arises from concerns regarding the interim administration's performance.
Members of the "Alliance for Radical Change" contend that lawlessness prevails in the Tigray region, endangering the basic human right to life. Following the Ashenda holiday, a bomb attack in a Mekelle City pub claimed four lives and injured at least ten people. At the same time, reports of robberies and murders have become increasingly common. Despite Addis Zeybe's efforts to elicit a response from the interim administration regarding the rising crime rates, success has proven elusive.
The Mekelle city administration has banned the scheduled demonstration, citing heightened security concerns associated with the upcoming new year. The Chairman of Arena Tigray for Democracy and Sovereignty argued that these reasons are inconsistent with the current situation in Tigray, characterizing them as a mockery of dictatorial and oppressive governance. In response to the ban, additional police and militia forces are being deployed to suppress the demonstration despite claims of insufficient capacity to safeguard it.
In the Tigray region, five rival parties, including the National Congress of Greater Tigray, Tigray Independence Party, Salsay Woyane Tigray, and the Assimba Democratic Party (which later withdrew from the alliance), have united under the banner of the "Alliance for Radical Change." Their collective demand is to remove the current interim administration and replace it with a democratic and inclusive one.
The Democratic Party of Asimba recently withdrew from the alliance, citing procedural issues with the rally's organization.
Five months after the Pretoria peace agreement, the interim administration of the Tigray region officially took shape on April 5, 2023, with 27 cabinet members. Getachew Reda assumed the role of interim president, appointed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on March 23, 2023. Notably, the TPLF controlled 51 percent of the interim administration cabinet, with the remaining 49 percent allocated to Tigray armed forces, intellectuals, and opposition political parties. The Baitona party secured two key positions as heads of the Water and Energy Bureau and the Transport Bureau of the Tigray region.
Amnesty International has raised grave concerns about war crimes and potential crimes against humanity committed by the Eritrean Defence Forces (EDF) in the Tigray region, both before and after the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) in November 2022.