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Today: July 23, 2024

An Open  Letter  to the Ethiopian Public, On the creation of the Transitional Government of Ethiopia

June 12, 2024
Daniel Kendie 
Professor in the History department at Prairie View A&M University

To begin with, in today’s Ethiopia,  unemployment, mass hunger, corruption, and  social unrest  happen  to be the fundamental  causes of  lack of peace  and stability in the country. Yet,  alienated and marginalized individuals exploit such conditions and  situations, as if they are ethnic problems and use them as leverage to achieve political power.  Changing the constitution ; outlawing ethnicity ; implementing UN decisions on human  rights,    enforcing  the rule of law ;  increasing employment opportunities ;  restoring  Pan-Ethiopian nationalism;  making sovereignty rest on the shoulders of the Ethiopian state rather than the regions; identifying the  emerging provinces as well as,  reinstating  the historic provinces of Ethiopia, which were abolished in the early 1990s by a regime that had no mandate at all,  and modernizing their administrative structures ;  authorizing  journalists to expose corruption;  legalizing legitimate political parties and civic organizations to discharge their obligations to the state  ;  raising the standard and quality of education, including  the direction,  tone and tenor  of the media. Meaningful political debate,  among political parties, could also  considerably change the situation.

 

Scholars like  Edward Shiels, Clifford  Geertz, Bennedict Anderson, Eric Hobsbawm, as well as others, have studied the role played by intellectuals in the life of nations and societies including the  problems related to ethnicity,  nationalism,  and culture. While some of these scholars  contend that ethnicity is  fixed and is a  natural attachment between members . Others argue that ethnicity in the modern- world,   is a major preoccupation only of marginalized and alienated intellectuals, who use it as political leverage to achieve power. Workers and peasants, they say,  are the last to be affected by it. On the other hand,  Hobsbawm asserts  that because of the requirements of the  age in which we live,  development  demands constant mobility and   movement of populations. In the process, land of birth and language, which are significant for ethnicity and nationalism,  lose their significance. We could also add that  a person may  speak several languages, or work  and live in different places, without necessarily  belonging to any ethnic group.

In this regard, the study of history has advantages. Society can be inspired by past achievements. It can also learn from past mistakes. But unlike the present, the past cannot be corrected . It can only be studied based on the values of its  time. Studying such a society through the experiences of other societies denies it its uniqueness and specificity. Conditions do not fit in mechanically in a deterministic manner. The times and circumstances can also be far apart. When supposed scholars do the contrary, the distinction between scholarly work and politically motivated writing becomes slim because it loses its sense of objectivity. There may not be complete objectivity, but subjectivity can be minimized. This is one of the problems faced by  Ethiopia today,  Ethiopian history is not being provided at Addis Ababa University.  For historical reasons, some of  its  societies  like the Oromo were not in the country in ancient times which explains their lack of place in ancient Ethiopian history. They  happen to be  at different  stages of development.   The challenge therefore, is,  to be able to integrate them into a coherent whole.

Despite the diversity of geography and population, the various  people of Ethiopia have created a single geographical and cultural unit and made the country a blend of cultures.  Indeed, that part of Ethiopia which was cemented by common religion, common feeling, and aspiration was united. The people  therefore, were,  more alike than different.   As a result,  Ethiopians were in the process of creating a strong national identity. Suakin, Adulis, Massawa,  Berbera, and Zeila used to be their ports.  However, the destruction of the Red Sea port of Adulis, and occupation of the Dahlesque islands by the Ummayads[ 661-750 ] and  the Abbasid [750- 1258] Caliphates; the assault on  the Empire of Axum by the Beja in the 7th century,  and  its pillage by  the Falasha Jews led by  Yodit  [ 960 AD – 1,000A.D];  the plunder and destruction  of Ethiopia by  fundamentalist Islam led by Ahmed ibn al-Ghazi [1528-1543], the occupation of Ethiopia’s sea coast  by the Ottoman Turks [1557-1865], which they called Habešistan, and  which completed Ethiopia’s isolation, the Galla/Oromo invasions  and plunder of Ethiopia [1530-1710], from which it still continues to suffer, the British invasion of Ethiopia in 1868,  the unprovoked aggressions of Egypt [1874-1876], followed by  the Mahdists of the Sudan [ 1886-1889] , and  finally the colonial aggressions of  Italy [1895-1896], and Fascist Mussolini [ 1935 -1941],  made Ethiopia  move two steps forward, and ten  steps backward, with the result that it became  a country that the 18th, 19th, and the 20th centuries left behind.

Phase I:

Given the complex nature of the issues to disentangle, I would like to begin  by raising the following pertinent questions, and hopefully, answer them as we go along.

[1]  The  FANO mass movement, which is composed of para-military Amhara volunteers, has been organized to fight against the regime in power, which has been accused of carrying out genocide against the people. As a result, FANO  is fighting and  carrying out devastating guerrilla warfare. To be sure, it  is becoming hard to beat. FANO is now  extending invitations to other Ethiopians   Tigrawi, Oromo,  Afar, Agew, Somali,Gurage, Hadeya, Kembatta, Gambela,  to join them to create a transitional government . Prime Minister Abiye Ahmed is, however, opposed to the idea of creating a transitional government.   The question then  is: why  would  a transitional government  be  needed to manage the affairs of the Ethiopian state? Why not allow the existing regime to continue? The answer is:   It is because of the near collapse of the incompetent regime in power, and its inability to shoulder its primary responsibility, which is protecting the citizens of the country. Its miserable failure to maintain law and order is visible throughout Ethiopia. Its foreign policy blunders are monumental, and have become proverbial. On top of that,  Schools, clinics, and hospitals are being closed. Teachers and civil servants in some districts are not being paid their monthly salaries. Investors are closing  their bank accounts and quitting. Parliamentarians are  being  arrested and in prisoned,  despite their immunity privileges. Innocent civilian communities are being  bombed using drones. The regime  does not possess the  required competence to recover the country’s stolen assets. Since it even  failed to pay the national  debts, the country defaulted on its Eurobonds payments. The regime has neither the interest, nor the power, to defend the Ethiopian people. There is, for instance, the case of the mass slaughter of Amhara communities in Wollega province by Oromo terrorists and foreign agents. Individuals and  groups are being evicted from their lands and homes by force. The  Amhara are prevented from entering Addis Ababa.  Banks are attacked for robbery in broad daylight. So are private homes and businesses. University students who were abducted by the same terrorist group three years ago, despite the appeals of their parents to the government, have not been set free. As a  matter of fact, some government officials have been identified as collaborators with the terrorist groups as fifth columnists. The Oromos even claim Addis Ababa as their own town. Despite all this, the Prime Minister has claimed that a transitional government is  not  needed  in  Ethiopia, not even on ‘’war crimes against  the Amhara. Moreover, all the decisions of the U. N  have to be respected. The regime cannot carry out transitional justice [ 1974- 1996]    on atrocities, massacres, genocide and  mass murders  of the  TPLF, OLF  and the government itself,  on human rights.  Apart from ethnic cleansing, and mass atrocities,   ‘’Transitional justice’’ is out of the reach of the government.

There is wide-spread destruction of property  throughout the country and mass displacement of people , which are, mostly  consequences of wrong government policy.  The government depends  heavily on international charity to assist the victims. Yet, the grain provided by the US as assistance to the victims was being sold to neighbouring countries by shameless government authorities who have no moral principles. Forty-two percent of college graduates continue to be unemployed, and most recently, 96% of high school candidates failed to pass the 12th grade high school  leaving certificate. It is under such circumstances, that  the Prime Minister is spending more than fourteen billion dollars to  construct a palace in Addis Ababa on 503 hectares of land. This should be enough to show how irresponsible, indifferent, and unconcerned he is.  There is  also the  continued  occupation by the Sudanese army of twenty-five miles long territory that belongs to Ethiopia , which  is just one among a series of other foreign policy blunders by the Prime Minister.  When the  Afars and Amharas were being pillaged  and plundered by an organization which calls itself ‘’ the Tigray People’s Liberation Front [TPLF],’’ the regime did not lift a finger to discharge its responsibility. In Nov. 2021, the TPLF even claimed to have its forces about fifteen miles from Addis Ababa. By taking advantage of the internal conditions of the country, the terrorist group, Al-Shabaab Mujahideen, based in Somalia, has begun its customary activities in eastern Ethiopia.  Is this a government in power? It is high time that the people of Ethiopia  begin to  think of a transitional government.

How could all this happen? There is enough to criticize Haile Selassie’s monarchy and the Dergue. But nothing like what is going on in today’s Ethiopia, ever took place. The leadership is skin deep and superficial. It is more of style than substance. The Mr. KNOW ALL PRIME  MINISTER, who has no credibility,  because he is so ‘ knowledgeable’ about everything,  does not even consult senior diplomats and cabinet ministers. Regardless of the consequences, he  just decides  by himself and on his own. There is no accountability or transparency. These revealed facts alone are enough to disqualify the regime  from keeping itself in  power.  Ethiopia needs other types of leaders who are more knowledgeable, mature, honourable, humble, fair minded, and morally and intellectually more prepared than the present regime  to serve the country.

Q,2 Why would  the constitution have to be abolished by a Transitional Government?

The present constitution, which is based on ethnicity, is a manifestation  of the cynical manipulation of society. Despite the wish of the public, the regime that is in power will never abolish it, because the present constitution is what brought it to power and keeps it in power. The leadership may want to amend certain toothless articles of the constitution, but does so, only to keep itself in power. In any case, in national emergency situations, a rule by decree is also allowed that a transitional government could exercise.   The  Ethiopian  regime continues to  make  language as the basis of ethnic differentiation.  However, according to  the Institute for the Study of Ethiopian Nationalities  [1984], only 5% of the Ethiopian  population  is monolingual. The rest of the population is multilingual. There are millions of Ethiopians who are products of mixed marriages, and millions who identify only with the  Ethiopian state.  Were they supposed to be stateless?  Introducing to Ethiopia  the right of nationalities to self-determination including secession, where eighty languages are spoken, is outrageous. The kilil system is  a suitable  environment for launching  secessionist movements. Intolerance and fascist leanings flourish in every kilil, whose very nature and existence continues to  prevent the exchange of ideas and innovation. Non- natives who have become second class citizens  in  their own country- are  prevented from participating in the local administration, and still less, from  playing  any  meaningful  role in the economy. There is no mobility of labour.

In the past, the principle of self-determination was cited to persuade governments to be more aware and receptive to the real needs  of the people. However, as scholars have observed,  because the principle is being abused, it has come to ruin and to impoverish  the possibilities of democratic development  in backward countries  like Ethiopia. Indeed,  the call for self-determination is not leading to stability and democratization in Ethiopia, but to ethnic strife, and to fragmentation and break up. This is a constitution that bestows sovereignty not to the state, but to regions. Furthermore, the  ‘’principle of separation of powers,’’ is not accepted, as evidenced in Article 50 number 3 of the constitution. It was done to give the executive branch unlimited powers in the affairs of the state, including unwarranted interference in religious matters, as  is the case now. As one Ethiopian academician put it, having ‘’interfused ethnicity with Pentecostalism,’’ the ruling Oromo clique and its outside advisors are attempting to replace the Ethiopian Orthodox  Church, and one could add, as well as Sunni Islam  with Pentecostalism. That is why churches and mosques are being constantly demolished. This ill-advised fantasy of the heedless has brought  the population of the country to its feet.

Ethnicity cannot be accepted as the modus operandi of managing state affairs in Ethiopia. There is nothing wrong in uniting the same people who are more alike than different. Besides,  if history is a guide, a strong sense of  national unity was crucial to build the economically advanced countries of Europe, America,  and Asia. Citizenship rather than ethnicity is the way out. Since Ethiopia is an integral part of the international community, it should abide by universally accepted principles that contribute to the cause of peace and stability. Under such circumstances, there is nothing to amend in the constitution, but to abolish. As the Ethiopian saying goes, if a tree is poisoned from its roots, you cannot save the tree only by cutting its branches. There are also some individuals, Oromos and Tigreans in particular, who do not want to identify with Ethiopia. The best thing to do would be, to open the door wide and to let them go where they want.

Q.3 Why the Kilil System of ‘’apartheid” should be annulled and nullified. 

The creation of regional administrations  called  the ’’ kilil’’  system, which is mindlessly copied from  South Africa’s organization of Bantustans,  is supposed to be based on the separate development of ethnic groups. However, in an old country like Ethiopia that is a blend of cultures,  it has no relevance and is fundamentally wrong. It is integration that accelerates development and not disintegration. Besides, one Ethiopian cannot be physically differentiated from another Ethiopian. Only language makes the difference. The rational of teaching in fifty – two different languages in southern Ethiopia will have to be debated.  Ethiopia is one of the oldest states in the world. It has been for centuries a multi-lingual state, but has grown beyond tribalism. It cannot, therefore, go back to the 15th century to which a few  of the  current  leaders seem to  belong. More than 85% of the population can communicate in Amharic. All  members of the national parliament who are supposed to represent Ethiopians, use Amharic. In this regard, the  multi-lingual historic provinces of Ethiopia, which happen to be the pillars of the country’s long  history,  cannot be simply brushed off as if they are ethnic enclaves. They have a recorded history. Millions of Ethiopians still identify with them. Along with rivers and lakes, the mountains also served as administrative boundaries to the provinces. Such critical factors as geography, shared history and culture,  administrative capacity, and complementary economic set up define them.

There is also another problem. The Kilils have  no geographic, ecological,  demographic,  economic, or  administrative  balance. They are  not of equal size. There is no  balance in the allocation of resources and investments to the regions. Labour and capital mobility is blocked.  Since Oromos happen to dominate the current regime, ‘’Oromia’’  is the favourite, where to date, thousands of industrial plants are operating, compared to the other regions of the country that are left with something to nothing. They were even denied timely provision of fertilizers. The supply was biased across regions intending to use hunger as a political weapon. Soldiers are being promoted in the army without merits.  The  smaller provinces are constantly intimidated and harassed, fearful of being annexed by the larger ones, the major one being “Oromia”– a kilil administration  which never existed in history. It was put together in 1995 by taking away land from other provinces through arbitrary and capricious means. Now, the people are agitating for the return of their territories. However, “Oromia” is envisaged to be strong enough to resist the agitation, and even to take over Addis Ababa and to annex more land from the surrounding regions to create what they call ‘’oromummaa.’’   The truth is, as nomadic pastoralists, Oromos did graze their cattle on the land that Addis Ababa and other towns have been built. But can they  provide physical and material evidence to prove ownership of the land either through  inheritance, or purchase? They cannot. They are simply trapped in the destructive  “Oromia” fairy tale that is detached from history and reality .The Prime Minister himself, who is preoccupied  in his own illusions of grandeur,  is just waking up to the reality facing him. He  seems terrified like a stranger who walks in front of an erupted tornado. One more issue:   Metekel district which houses the Renaissance Dam, should  return back  to Gojjam to which it belonged historically.

Eritrea may accept its old federal status. The idea of federation will be accepted  by Oromos. There are some 40 million Amharas in what is called ‘OROMIA’. What do they want? Since Oromos entered this country as nomadic pastoralists at a time when Ethiopia was busy fighting other invaders,  the OROMOS had the chance to   occupy the most fertile areas of the country. Although, the governor of Oromia calls Amharas ‘’neftegna’’ [ immigrant], which they are not. He is reversing roles. The status of Wollo, Shewa; Wollega and Illubabor, where they have settled only recently as well as, what they call – Finfine/ Addis Abeba and Nazret, Adama,  has yet to be settled.   Today, a variety of minerals, dams,  manufacturing,   agricultural products like tea and coffee are all available there.

‘’Tigryan Manifest Destiny and Tigryan Exceptionalism” – –   an inflated, expansionist demand for a differential treatment of Tigray that is backed by force, and which drives its quisling politicians to collaborate with Ethiopia’s avowed historic enemies, and adversaries; has also contributed its share to the lack of peace in  Ethiopia. Let us not forget, what the Italians called ‘’ polityica Tigrigna’’.  The Exceptionalism treatment demand is based on a fallacious and delusional interpretation of history, which refuses to recognize the role played by the Agaw, the  Tigre   —    an ethnic group by that name in Eritrea, the Amhara, Gurage, the Beta Israel, Adere, and Afar in the creation and performance of the advanced civilization of Axum. Moreover,  the constantly manufactured fairy tales of the TPLF aside, HERE IS WHAT FOREIGNERS WROTE ABOUT Wolkait  and TSEGEDE;

The Case of WOLkaIT Tsegede:

Emperor Zara Yacob [1399-1468] put together in 1448  the Dahlaque Islands of the Red Sea, Massawa, Tigray, Shire, Hamassien, Akele Guzaie, and Seraie, and named the region Medri Bahri [land of the sea], with Bahre Negash Dori  as its king, and that the Tekezie River be the administrative boundary between the domain of the Bahre Negash, and the Amhara provinces to the south. [Crawford,1958].

What Does History Say? 

A political organization which calls itself the Tigray People’s Liberation Front [TPLF], which claimed in the 1980s to be fascinated by Marxism and Albanian socialism, and which ironically preaches the “right of people to self-determination,” but practices the opposite, has forcefully annexed the districts of Wolkait, Tegede, Tselemt, Humera and Raya on alleged historical grounds. The inhabitants were not involved. Contrary to the claim, these districts have never been part of Tigray. They have been, until their occupation by the TPLF, integral parts of Gondar and Wollo Provinces. The Eritrean People’s Liberation Front closed the access of the TPLF to the Sudan, and so they felt the need to occupy these districts, first to facilitate arms smuggling through Sudan, and then starting from 1991 for re-settlement of Tigrean refugee, soldiers, and farmers even before the so-called constitution which makes the country into a ‘’federation of ethnic groups” was prepared. The bogus constitution which makes ‘ethnicity’ the modus operandi of the state came into effect in 1994. However, control by military means took place earlier, and therefore, the occupiers had to resort to historical fiction of belonging to a common ‘’ethnic’’ ancestry to justify occupation.

The writings of Ethiopians as well as of European historians, scholars, and travelers, who spent years in Ethiopia, go contrary to the claims of the TPLF.

The Portuguese missionary and traveler, Manuel de Almeida (1580-1646), who lived in Ethiopia for ten years (1623-1633), wrote: “The provinces of Holcait (Wolkait) and Sagade (Tsegede), Salemt (Tselemt), Ogara (Wogera), Cemen (Semien) are districts of Begemder [Gondar].  Begemder was the biggest of all kingdoms of Ethiopia.”

A traditional schematic map of northern Ethiopia, titled The Book of Axum, shows a traditional schematic map of Tigray with the city of Axum as its centre surrounded by Tigrai’s 13 principal provinces – namely- Tembien, Shire, Seraye, Hamassien, Bur, Sama, Agame, Amba Senait, Geralta, Enderta, Sahart, and Abergele.  Evidently, The Book of Axum does not include the names of the annexed areas, lending further proof of the claim to be a fabricated assertion.

  The Tekezie Rive  served as the boundary separating Begemider Siemen/Gondar Province from Tigray for centuries. The river is 608 kms long. The canyon which the river has created is one of the deepest in the world. In some areas, it can be 6,562 ft deep. During the rainy season, the river is not even passable for six months of the year. Since bridges were constructed late, how did those who claim Wolkait as their traditional homeland, cross the canyons to go from Tigray to Wolkit?  Likewise, Emperor Sertse Dingil [1550-1592] re-affirmed Zare Yacob’s declaration after his victory over the Ottoman Turks in 1576 and 1588. The Chronicles of Susneyos, too, state that the Tekezie River has been for more than 500 years the southern boundary of Tegre.

Mansfield Parkyns (1823-1894) – a British traveler who spent some three years (1843-1846) visiting various Ethiopian provinces wrote in 1853 that “The provinces of Semien, Wolkayt, Waldebba etc. belonged by inheritance to Dejach (Ras) Wube Haile Mariam [an Amhara contestant to the throne from Semien, who was defeated in 1855 by Kasa, the future Emperor Tewodros], who also by right of conquest reigned over Tigre. The northern part of Tigre from the Tekezie River to the Mereb, and from Axum to the Shangulla country was administered by Lemma, Wube’s eldest son. Begemder Semien extends from the Tekezi River to the border of Sennar in the Sudan, and that the principal divisions of Tigray consist of Hamassien, Serai, Akele Guzaie, Shire, Tenbien, Enderta, Waggirat and Shilawa.  Here, too, one can see that the annexed districts were not mentioned as being part of Tigray.

According to Samuel Gobalt and Robert Baird, the Amhara country extends from the river Taccasy [Tekezie] to the frontiers of the Sennar country, and the Abai or Nile. The Amhara and Tigre provinces are separated by the Taccazy River, which served as a natural boundary.

According to Plowden, the region of Tigray consisted of all Christian regions North of the Tekeze River. The sub-divisions were Hamassen, Seraye, Akele Guzzay, Agame, Tigray proper, Shire, Adiabo, Tembien, Woz Garat and Shilalo.

Margery Parham [The Government of Ethiopia, 1948], has published in her book a detailed map of the provinces of Ethiopia from the time of Emperor Menelik up to 1933 – the start of the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. The map is another proof to whom the annexed districts belonged.

The same administrative boundary has continued to serve as a boundary between  the Amhara provinces and Tigrai for centuries. Tigrai has had no direct geographic links with the Sudan. When  the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front [EPLF] denied the TPLF outlets to the Sudan for importing  weapons, as an alternative,  the TPLF occupied  Wolkait in 1991, annexed it to Tigrai  and called it Western Tigrai. The truth is, Wolkait is neither western nor Tigrayan , but Amhara, an integral part of Gondar. When the vigorous protests of the inhabitants failed, an armed uprising of the population called  ‘’Kefagne’’ emerged.

In this regard, Christopher Clapham, the well-known British specialist in the history and politics of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa, has the following to say: Wolkait-Tsegede which is separated from Tigray by the impressive natural barrier of Setit Tekezze River, has never been governed as part of Tigray at any period in the past, but has come under Gondar and Semien. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front needs to define Tigray in such geographically most appropriate ways of doing so, by claiming a corridor to the Red Sea at Tiyo or Mers Fatima on the one hand, or to the Sudan between the Gash and Setit rivers on the other. Both are out of reach for the TPLF, because they form part of Eritrea.  The TPLF  therefore, needed Wolkait as an alternative for contacts with the Sudan to facilitate the import of arms.  The Tekezie River is 608 kms long. The canyon which the river has created is one of the deepest in the world. In certain areas, it can be 6,562 ft deep. During the rainy season, the river is not even passable for six months of the year. [Clapham,1988]. Since bridges on the river were built late in history,  how did those who claim Wolkait as their historical homeland cross the canyons to go from Tigray to the districts mentioned above?

Leul Ras Mengesha Seyoum, great grandson of Emperor Yohannes IV, and former Governor of Tigray, admitted that Wolkait-Tsegede-Humera and Selemt have never been part of Tigray.  Furthermore, a  traditional schematic map of northern Ethiopia of the Mid-15th century , titled The Book of Axum,  shows Tigray with the city of Axum as its centre surrounded by Tigrai’s 13 principal provinces – namely- Tembien, Shire, Seraye, Hamassien, Bur, Sama, Agame, Amba Senait, Geralta, Enderta, Sahart, and Abergele.  Evidently, The Book of Axum does not include the names of the annexed areas, lending further proof of the claim to be a fabricated assertion.

The Stolen Assets:

The TPLF leadership does not represent the patriotic people of Tigray. When it was in power [1991-2018], it had stolen billions of dollars, including loans that Ethiopia had borrowed from friendly governments and international organizations,  and deposited them in foreign banks. That is why currently Ethiopia is in deep debt. There are established procedures by means of which the stolen  assets can be recovered. However, the regime has not attempted to recover even a fraction of the stolen assets to begin paying the debts. A transitional government can do better. It can take the case to court. It can work with the United Nations,  the World Bank,  and the European Union.

The  TPLF  leadership which committed so much death and distraction in Ethiopia, should have been in prison. Instead, while some  of the leaders are abroad, some  of them are still in power in Tigray. The leadership  was supposed to  receive five billion birr [$92 million] from the National Bank by the authority of the Prime Minister. The Afar and Amhara regions which were ransacked by the same TPLF, were not promised even one-tenth of that amount. This goes to show how irrational the prime minister can be.

Referendum for Secession?

The idea of conducting a ‘referendum’ in the  districts of Wolkait and Tegede is being considered. Unless basic and fundamental human rights are to be abandoned by the government at the altar of political expediency, why should there be a referendum in these districts, in the first place? The TPLF did not conduct a referendum when it conquered the districts. It used military means. Since force is the only language that the leadership understands, the TPLF has been forced out from those areas it had occupied by military means. Who then decides whether there should be a referendum now or not? The regime [plays games one against the other.   FANO is fighting to evict the so-called federal government from all Amhara provinces  to enable the citizens to  manage their own  internal affairs.  Given the critical geographic location of the districts, as well as the reality of the current situation, the attempt to conduct a referendum in these districts will be ill-advised and misguided. It will be creating a dangerous precedence that other regions of the country may want to follow.  Besides, Ethiopia’s known mortal enemies  are lined up behind the treacherous local agents to exploit the situation to their advantage. They should have no access to the door key.

Phase II:   For all these  reasons, the kilil system should  be abolished and be replaced by the restoration of the old Ethiopian provinces. Along with the new ones, these include Afar, Arsi, Bale, Ben Shangul, Gondar, Gojjam, Gomu Goffa, Harar, Illubabor, Kaffa, Shewa,  Sidama,  Somali, Tigray, Wolaita, Wollega, and Wollo. Addis Ababa should have federal status. The  Renaissance Dam , which is built  to generate electricity that the country badly needs,   continues to be threatened  by Egypt by various means,  claiming that the dam will  reduce its water supply – a claim that defies the laws of physics.  There is nothing illegal that Ethiopia has done. It has plans to  construct  more  dams on its rivers to enable farmers transition      from rain dependent agriculture to water  irrigation-based farming. Should Ethiopia take permission from Egypt to do that?                                                                                         ETHIOPIA’s PROVINCES

 

[4]  Study Groups  and  National  Committees: 

The establishment of  study committees is vital. The following should be organized as soon as possible.

[4.1] National Defense ;[4.2]  National Security; [4.3] Provincial Administrations; [4.4]  Constitution Drafting Committee;[4.5] Religious Tolerance; [4.6] National Education; [4.7]  Administration of Justice and the Legal System;[4.8]  Public Health ; [4.9] Agriculture and Forestry ;[4.10] Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs ; [4.11] Finance; [4.12] Industry ; [4.13] Trade and Commerce ; [4.14] Transport and Infrastructure ;[4.15] Culture and Fine Arts ;[4.16] Labour and Social Affairs ; [4.17] Mass Media and Communications ; [4.18] Science and Technology ;[4.19] Women’s Rights; [4.20] Youth Training and Services; [4.21] The Role of scholars and the educated elite in the Modernization of Ethiopia; [4.22] Relief and Rehabilitation.

[5] The Need for Genuine Political Parties

There are seven political parties in the USA, thirteen in the UK, seven in France, 12 in Germany, 6 in Russia, 2 in China, and 107 in Ethiopia. What is the meaning of 107 so-called political parties in Ethiopia? Does it mean that Ethiopia is more democratic than the rest? Far from it. There are  genuine political parties which are not ethnic based. But  many of the parties are products of institutionalized ethnicity.  They are  being used by the tribal elite  as a short-cut to  acquiring  power.  If they were to lose power, they may claim the coming of Doomsday, and then invoke their so-called principle of self-determination, and may try to secede from Ethiopia. Ethnicity would be outlawed in the new constitution. As a result, instead of 107 political parties, there may  be  only three Pan-Ethiopian political parties of the [1] left, the [2] centre, and the [3] right, reflecting the socio-economic reality and  political tendency  of  the country.

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Bottom of Form

[6]  Topics for Debate and Discussion:

The topics for discussion and debate  between the parties could include the following: [6.1] equality of opportunity 3in a common citizenship; 6.2] religious tolerance; [ 6 .3] the challenges of innovation of foreign institutions in the modernization of Ethiopia;[6.4]  corruption;[6.5]  law and order;[6.6] national security;[ 6.7] climate change and environmental protection; [6.8]  agriculture and food self-sufficiency;[6.9] women’s rights; [6.10] protection of minorities;[6.11] the significance of foreign investment; [6.12] development of mining;[6.13] import substitution;[6.14] industrialization;[6.15] infrastructure development; [6.16] marketing and modern management;[6.17] water supply to towns and villages;[6.18] provision of electricity to rural areas; [6.19] public sanitation facilities in urban centres;[6.20]  provision of quality education; [6.21] public health; [ 6.22] creation of jobs; [6.23] Ethiopia’s rights to build dams on its rivers;[6.24]  trade and integration between the countries of the Horn of Africa; [6.25] Ethiopia’s Access to the Red Sea , and so on.

[7] The Formation of the Transitional Government[TG] 

Various  groups within Ethiopia and outside will be working on different subjects  leading  to the creation of different working committees. In this regard, it would be convenient and productive if the Transitional   Government  is composed of university professors, and highly trained professionals in different areas of development. Fifty percent of the leadership could come from the diaspora and the rest from inside the country which could be led by a President or a Prime Minister, whose term of service may not be more than two years.  Ethiopians with foreign passports could get involved and utilize the opportunity to serve the country. Financial assistance to help carry out  the programme may be requested from friendly governments and international organizations.

[8]  Responsibilities of the Transitional Government [TR]  

8.1 Extending invitations to the representatives of all the provinces to assist in the creation of a transitional government.

8.2. Strengthening the defense and security agencies.

8.3. Introducing the new members of the cabinet, and explaining to the public the programme of the Transitional Government.

8.4.  Announcing the abolishment of the constitution and the kilil system and their replacement by the new constitution  and the provinces.

8.5.  Bringing to the court of law those who have committed war crimes [1991-2024], and  crimes against humanity, crimes  against the state, and elements who have enriched themselves through corruption and graft. International observers should be invited.

8.6. Preparing the rules and regulations governing the creation of political parties and civic organizations.

8.7. If certain conditions are met, the TR may  be willing to  negotiate with the dissident elements.

  1. 8. Sending good will missions to world capitals, to explain the program of the Transitional Government, and to request assistance for the reconstruction of war-ravaged provinces, including Tigray, Gondar, Wollo, Gojjam,  Afar, Somali, Shewa, Wollega, Gambella, Ben Shangual, Wolaita, etc.

8.9. Inviting interested businesses to invest in the various sectors of the Ethiopian economy.

8.10. Requesting assistance in the recovery of the  stolen assets, which would help Ethiopia to pay  its debts.

8.11. The TR should  provide  assistance, including transport and security services, to recognized political parties in their election campaigns.

8.12 Inviting international observers for the occasion.

Conclusion:

It must be emphasized that sovereignty belongs to the state, rather than to the regions, that the recognition of  separation of governmental powers – the legislative, executive, and the judiciary, is the ultimate means of controlling the injustice of  governmental bodies, as well as corruption,  and for respecting human rights and the rule of law. Additionally, recognition of  citizenship rather than ethnicity is the ultimate pillar of social progress. On top of that, the restoration of the historic provinces of the country is the historical foundation of the Ethiopian state itself. When the leaders become out of touch with the people, given their narrow focus, they are likely to make wrong decisions. The ivory tower of escapist attitudinal idealism of the intellectuals must therefore be broken. Ethiopian scholars and professionals  should contribute their legitimate share to the  speeding up  the growth and development  of the country. They could  be inspired by the incredible achievements of  such countries like Russia, China, Japan, India, Israel, Turkey, Cuba, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Borrowed ideas, techniques,  and institutions do work, however, when they go in accord with the cultural values of the society itself, and when the common people are spoken to in the cultural values that they understand. Attempting to make a country  like Ethiopia  a carbon copy of the advanced model country has never worked anywhere. People can be demoralized and cynical. Such innovation will require deep knowledge of the culture and values of the society itself, and tremendous research and creativity. Identifying the dynamic and reactionary elements of the culture of the country is the key.  In this regard, the idea of establishing  the Ethiopian Institute of Modernization is never late. It will facilitate matters.

Ethiopia has, potentially, abundant natural resources. It has a large internal market. What it needs is  huge investment capital and competent management, and leadership that is informed, credible, and hard working. All this would be possible, if  the  transitional government, which will lay down the foundations of Ethiopia’s future, is replaced by an equally determined government which has popular backing, which will continue the nation building process, and  discharges its historic mission with tact and dedication. To be able to be inspired by the achievements of others, but also to learn  from their mistakes is crucial. The creation of a balanced and stable political system and governance based on the rule of law, including transparency and accountability, an efficient bureaucracy, an investment enabling climate where there is competition of political parties, educational systems, business, innovation, and freedom of the press,  success would be possible, as was the case of several developing countries. Ethiopia, too, should be able to make it.

 

4 Comments

  1. Good presentation!!! However, it is important to remember that limiting the prime minister’s power is crucial. Take the example of India, where the president is responsible for overseeing the army, judiciary, auditor general, election commission, and foreign aid finances. The prime minister does not have the authority to declare a national emergency; that power lies with the president. Additionally, the president can initiate a vote of no confidence in parliament, and if there is insufficient support, the prime minister can be removed from office.

  2. Dear Daniel:-

    Your review of the current political, social and economic issues deserves strong appreciation and recognition. However, when it comes to a Transitional Government – both formation and functions – it is, typically, ferenj-like and out of touch with Ethiopian reality.

    I suggest you and all others read “The Small Miracle: South Africa’s negotiated Settlement, edited by Steven Friedman and Doreen Atkinson. South African Review 7, Ravan Press, Johannesburg. 1994 “.

    I am sure you know that after coming out of prison in 1992, Nelsen Mandela and President De Clerk wasted no time to organize the 26 parties, including the governing party, NP, and all armed groups of South Africa, to form a Transitional Executive Council comprising all political parties and warring groups and the Government itself to lay down and oversee the implementation of the social, political and and legal structures necessary for the birth of a democratic Federal South Africa. Since all warring groups were part of the Executive Council, South Africa thereby created a peaceful environment to jointly plan its own transition into a democratic future.

    In 1994, South Africa had its first democratic, nation-wide and successful election which created the Federal Democratic South Africa that we know today. Opinion polls were carried out right after the election in 4 different groups of South Africans: Blacks, Mixed race, Whites and Indians. At least 94% of those polled in each of the 4 groups of South Africans responded that the election was free and fair. Hence, Mandela showed that building a democratic system does not require decades but hones and patriotic men and women that put their country first.

    Sadly, Ethiopia has not had a leader in the Nelsen Mandela class over the last 50 years. We continue to hope and pray that such a leader will soon emerge to put Ethiopia back to the internationally respectable position we have had under His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I.

  3. I admire your detailed discussion about Ethiopia. But when it comes to the real solution for the problem outlined prescribes an elitist and western aligned approach.
    I believe Ethiopians have a good foundation and way of coming together and resolving issues amicably. The other problem I see is that you are suggesting transitional government which brought us to this point in the 1991. I was a youth wishing to see my country progress but it was the worst. I believe Ethiopia needs a functioning government that can grow and improve through time. Stable government is an important ingredient for country’s economy and social stability.
    God Bless Ethiopia!

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