South Africa

Ethiopia: Debretsion Cements Tigray's Presidency As Region Forms New Parliament

Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), Chairman of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the governing party of Tigray Regional State, cemented the region's presidency after receiving an overwhelming support by newly constituted regional parliament.

Debretsion was already serving as the deputy president of Tigray state after having been elected to the position by the outgoing Council in January 2018. Although he held the full responsibility of the regional presidency, he was elected as 'deputy' because he wasn't a member of the regional parliament.

A key figure at the federal government prior to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's ascent to the premiership, Debretsion was elected as chairman of TPLF only in November 2017, in the wake of an intense infighting within the party which led to the removal of then chairman Abay Woldu, and executive committee members Azeb Mesfin and Beyene Mekeru. Debretsion serving as Ethiopia's Minister of Communication and Information Technology when he was elected Chairman of the TPLF. Prior to that, and appointed by former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Debretsion served as Deputy Prime Minister for Finance and Economic Cluster in 2012.

A veteran in TPLF's 17 years struggle against the military junta, Derg, Debretsion terminated his university studies to join the rebel movement in early 1970s as a radio communication technician. He later on pursued his bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering from the Addis Abeba University (AAU) and went on receiving a PhD in information technology from Capella University, an online university, in 2011.

Recently, Debretsion is in the news more for his regional government's resistance against the federal government, culminating in Tigray's decision to hold a unilateral election for regional council in which TPLF won 189 of the 190 seats in the regional parliament.

Update: According to the announcement, the outgoing Speakers and existing members are going to be acknowledged with certificates in the ongoing meeting. #Tigray Regional State Council is conveying its 5th year 20th round final meeting. - Addis Standard (@addisstandard) September 24, 2020

Despite repeated warning from the federal government on the illegitimacy of the election, Tigray went on forming its new government today, resulting in the election of Debretsion as regional president.

It came a few days after Ethiopia's parliament okayed the country to hold the 6th general elections, which was postponed due to COVID-19. Tagesse Chafo, Speaker of the House of People's Representatives (HoPR) said that the general election will be held throughout the country, including Tigray. In response, Getachew Reda, TPLF executive member, told Dimtsi Woyane Television yesterday that this was not going to happen in Tigray. "As far as Tigray is concerned, the next election is going to be in five years from now," Getachew said.

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