Federalism – common sense will eventually prevail, even within TPLF | By Kebour Ghenna

Kebour Ghenna

With Aby Ahmed’s election at the top of EPRDF and government, TPLF’s long standing influence within EPRDF was nowhere to be found. Almost instantly, EPRDF as we have known it, vanished. The resulting reemergence of separatist feeling within TPLF may not surprise many observers.
Is that going to be a problem? To certain extent… If persistent, it can make it difficult to come to a consensus on anything.
Clearly loosing influence in a political party one helped create is not funny…but time to stop acting like a child and start to act like an adult.
So where to from here?
To all those advocating secession..What do you expect to see in the end? Several new countries on the African map: Oromia, Tigray, Amhara and so on…. Some new ambassadors… for what? To be irrelevant….be duped, exploited and used!
If there is one country in the world that really needs a functional and effective federal system – with its diversities of language, religion, and culture and a growing population – that is Ethiopia. Our present system of federalism certainly needs total overhaul: an honest, whole-hearted, clearly-stated, precise federalism that is acceptable to all the various regional states’ forming the Federal state.
Let’s all make it happen!
Few weeks back, the PM’s in-country tours demonstrated that most people support union with diversity and co-operation. For these people the only institution of the government that represents all Ethiopians is “federal.” On the other side of the political spectrum, there are few pundits in Oromia, that reject entirely the broader Ethiopian nation in favor for total independence for Oromia. They remind us that previous leaders have left them on the outside looking in, and so now, nothing short of independence is acceptable to them.
Let’s be clear however, separatist sentiments will always be part of Ethiopia’s politics, and Arat Kilo should make sure “normal” democratic politics does not break down and violent separatist movements do not dominate.
What is remarkable is that diverse as we are, MOST OF US (emphasis), Ethiopians, have still no difficulty in referring to ourselves as a nation. We do that not by erasing all linguistic or cultural differences, or squash them into an indistinguishable whole, we do that by working to create a new kind of nation, where citizens of Ethiopia will, say, introduce themselves as an Ethiopian from Afar.
I am confident that for the young generation, neither the national origin nor the religion of any individual would be a handicap … Young Ethiopians seem to easily accept Orthodox, Muslims and Protestants, Afars, Amharas, Guragues, Oromos, Wolaitas and more… They understand one can still be a member of both the Oromo nation and the Ethiopian nation, without injury to either. They understand – Lemma and Aby are good testament to what young leaders can bring to the table – democratic government is only possible among a group of people who mutually agree to sacrifice for each other, to defer to each other, to be ruled by each other. The minute the idea takes hold that the government to which they are asked to submit is not their government but someone else’s, the necessary consent of the governed will be withdrawn – if not wholly, then in part.
To put the whole issue in perspective, we are quite often presented with a model of the United States of America. Whatever their deep divisions as a country, the idea of Americans as part of “one nation, indivisible” is uncontested and, indeed, incontestable. And where there are calls to return powers to the states (which happens from time to time), it has more to do with arguments of efficiency and good government than with any deeper questions of legitimacy. The federal government has a role in national affairs of which many other federal governments could only dream.
The main point is that America has realized the creation of a “political nationality” rooted not in blood or soil but in common values, common aspirations, and common principles of government, all summarized in the Constitution, for which Americans have a reverence bordering on the cult-like.
I am convinced that it’s very much part of Aby/Lema team’s ambition to adhere to the principles of unity in diversity, decentralization in administration, and devolution in authority. I am also confident that the team will politically confront groups that have absorbed the idea, consciously or unconsciously, that real nations are ethnocultural nations.
In an important sense I want to point out the indispensability of the idea of the indivisible nationhood. The whole point of a federation, after all, is to have a federal government – a government with powers to deal with matters that transcend region interests and cross region boundaries. If we succeed, it will mean more progress, justice and power for all Ethiopians.

Read Aloud:   The ongoing ground war on TPLF warlords must be matched with the war on the firehose of falsehoods


  1. Nobody will touch Oromia let alone dividing it. Abiy and Lemma have no power to do that. Oromia is the result of a century old struggle of the Oromo nation and a fruit of the Oromo heroes and heroines. Lemma and Abiy themselves are also the products of that struggles.  Do you think tha the Qeerroos have fought to bring back your lordship again in Oromia. The wheels of history will never roll back. When the most of Oromo gave up their legitimate demand of independent Oromia you and those like try dream about dividing Oromia. But be sure your dream is void.
    The great giant is awake. No more business as usual in Otomia: eviction, discrimination, assimilation and psychological war. We are ahead you in every thing. You better preach democracy and, equality and genuine integration of the multinational state of Ethiopia.

  2. Ato Kibur, you are a good writer with a clear vision but you are totally confused on the main idea of federalism and inclusiveness. Off the bat. Ethiopias present problem is due to Etnic Federalism which has pitted one Ethnic group against the other as they are institutionalized to view every other ethnic group as the other than as Ethiopian. When in Ethiopias history have you ever heard of Oromo Nation or Oromo anything.This was a creation of the student movement of the late 60’s with up to and including secession added to it. Then EPRDF came up with a map. When has Finfine been tha capital of Oromia. When has Harrer , Bale , Jimma , Sidamo , Shoa , Wollega been governed by an Oromo governing machine where some Geda system was institutionalized as the legal branch of governance. People are writing false history and believing it to be real.I am a Shoa Oromo by my mothers side. Actually a most prominent Oromo being the great grandson of Ras Gobena who is also the grandfather of the highly celebrated Ras Abebe who fought for the Freedom and independance of Ethiopia till Mussolini and his thugs were ran out.You also use American Federal system to justify Ethnic Federalism.America has states . These states were not assigned to diffrent ethnic groups that came here from Europe. Here in Minnesota we have Germans , Swedes , Norwegians , Polish , Irish in large numbers and all speak English with no problems although they retain their language and culture within their own communities. Ethiopia had a provincial system , a Federal System with Parliament that wise guy newbees decided to change into this racist Ethnic Regionalism crap that has clearly resulted in the hatred and antagonism that we are witnessing now. Listen to the voices of the people from Moyale to Massawa standing as one Ethiopia while the goverments are trying to still insist on this Ethnic based system due to the fact that their positions depend on them. These maps and divisive ideas of Ethnic Federalism has back fired on the government and Ethiopia at large that it has got to the point of threatening eithers existence. Egziabher Yimesgen the peoples cry has come out loud and clear for Ethiopia who they are.Ethiopia did not start from Minilik but to take you back a little through history its an Ethiopian King that King that protected Mohammeds people who created Centuries old Mosques by Bilal , Mohammeds own messenger ,Sheikh Hussein in Bale and many others in Harrer , Jima , Wello and elswhere. How about Mohammed Gragn who with Jihad ran Ethiopia all the way to Gonder although his ill willed attitude of burning and looting christian churches fired back on him. If you go to Gonder you still find his Statue right next to Fasil Genb and a large Mosque he built where muslims worship to date on the other side of the castle.Ethiopia has been a diversified civilized country for centuries. Now , if you are saying that this present system should be maintained until Team Lemma figures a new reorganization i have no problem wit it but if maintained you are looking at the disintigration you cited above.some sort of a transitional team to rewrite a new constitution at least redrawing the present ethnic fedaral arrangement is a must. It might bring havoc at the present because of the politicization that Ethnic Regionalism has created in the minds of some Ethnic groups but the discussion to reeducate has to begin. The theme that Abiy used in Minnesota ‘And Senehon Yamrebenal ‘ is a great start . This is good enough from me for now. Hope this gets published because i have written to Zehabesha before criticizing their devisive articles before which they never publishe which forced me to disassociate with them as their agenda was not aligned with mine . Hope Zehabesha and their readers are willing to change as well lining up with the Loud and Clear Voices of the grat people of Egziabher ; Ethiopia.

  3. Hello Professor Al,
    You are indeed a gift of Ethiopia who stood for democracy and rule of law. I want thank you what you have done for your lovely country and inspired so many with your articles and speech. Your effort noticed by so many Ethiopians and you should be happy for your dream become realized. Thank you Professor.

  4. Why common sense of Federalism prevail in Ethiopia? It is not a trick or a big calculus question to answer & analyze it. The problem was the way it handled by someone.
    Ethiopia doesn’t have a problem of either Federalism or confederation, the problem was the way such government used it to fit and administer for their political ambition.
    USA for instance governs around 52 states with well organized Federalism constitution. So what makes a problem for us? I think the problem is with formulation of such federalism with respect to our real context. It should not circle to meet their aim of regional independence, referendum and ethnic politics.
    So let’s think wisely to decide whether Federalism or confederation is more appropriate for Ethiopia. To my view, federalism may be more relevant as they have different interest on each regional government but shouldn’t entertain regional independence and will not hinder the interference of Federal government to restore peace & security.
    This will be unconditional as it leads the regional government to misuse the constitution; example is a present situation on Ethiopia Somalia. Anyway, at this instance we can’t talk about these issue rather we have to worry about making peace, stability, freedom and unity of Ethiopia.
    Long Live to Ethiopia!!

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