Comments on Tecola Hagos’s June 22, 2011 article, “This Way Ethiopia: Constitutional Monarchy or Liberal Democracy …” by Abebe Haile

June 25th, 2011 Print Print Email Email

In the last few years or so, I have come to appreciate a few Ethiopians whose on-line writings and opinions are quite relevant for our times. One of these opinion makers is Prof. Tecola W. Hagos. This doesn’t mean he is always right, but there is no question that he writes with conviction and passion and makes remarkable good sense. In this time of divisive and fragmented politics, I find his constant search for unifying themes for all of us quite admirable. Hence, while some may find a sinister tribal motive behind his latest proposition, I view his invitation for public discussion of constitutional monarchy in a constructive light. I particularly appreciate the passion he has for a sovereign, united and prosperous Ethiopia. If anyone thinks I may be a fellow traveler of a tigre or amhara line for saying this, I assure you that I am neither of them. Living in the good new USA, enjoying the freedoms, camaraderie and friendships of the diverse “tribes” of America, I just hope that the tribal division plays a lesser and lesser role in our daily actions and thinking.

I believe the concept of tribe in the 21st century has gone out of fashion except in the backwoods of Africa, Ethiopia among them, where its effects keep the continent exposed to constant conflict, poverty, disease and ignorance. That has been what Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his partners have been propagating for the last 20 years just to keep themselves in power, or as others would have it, to dismantle the Ethiopian state. Such a nefarious desire by a national leader may sound far-fetched and preposterous, but that was exactly what Isaias Afeworki said when victorious Meles Zenawi rode into Addis Ababa in May 1991. Isaias predicted that Eritrea will be a major power in the newly re-drawn map of the Horn of Africa, but for that to happen he would ensure that Ethiopian must be divided up into tribal states and so that she will no longer be a threat to Eritrea. Asked by foreign reporters about the future prospects of Ethio-Eritrean relations, he boldly declared that Ethiopia will not exist in 15 years. We can’t know for sure if Isaias, who at the time was a soul mate of Meles Zenawi, did not mean what he said had not the TPLF split into the nationalist and Meles camps, thus aborting such an eventuality from occurring.

Coming back to Prof Tecola’s proposition for a constitutional monarchy, this is something I believe should be seriously debated by all fair-minded Ethiopians for what it may be worth. The idea of a constitutional monarchy in Ethiopia is nothing new. It was suggested by several Ethiopian scholars, including Negadras Gebrehiwot Baikedagn, one of the foremost intellectuals of one hundred years ago. In fact, warning against the wholesale copying of western concepts, Gebrehiwot advised that Ethiopia selectively adopt the Japanese governance and development model, choosing only those aspects appropriate for the Ethiopian situation. It now seems constitutional monarchy may not be such a bad idea at all if some of the most stable, tranquil and prosperous countries like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Japan, England, etc… all use it as a unifying tool.

If a constitutional monarchy were to be established in Ethiopia, I have no doubt that the descendants of Atse Haile Selassie would fulfill the requirements simply because they represent the bloodlines of the major ethnic groups of amhara, oromo, tigre and may be others too, not to mention a long national history. However, now after nearly 40 years of unremitting negative propaganda by the Mengistu and Meles regimes, I have my doubts if a bold and open-minded debate on the monarchy can be undertaken. The monarchy has been demonized so much so that it may be hard to hold a fair debate that will satisfy the sectarian mind-sets, self-appointed tribal ideologues, the habitual naysayers, and pseudo-marxist remnants like myself. Likewise, I fear that our current infatuation with western democracy in Ethiopia will be as confused, dangerous and futile as Marxism was for my generation.

My hunch is that without a clear understanding of how democracy works and how it is implemented we may try to cut and paste it, thus risking a never ending turmoil because democracy is a culture that needs to be developed and nurtured. True democracy is powerful and important, but to succeed it should be merged with the cultural norms and practices of the country. I fully agree with Prof Tecola’s assertion that, “Election in our type of society is a polarizing process for it often is a fog-screen of fundamentally flawed society due to horrible economic and cultural distortions, anomalies that need first serious consideration and fixing.” Wasn’t a Marxist People’s Government what we wanted decades ago without bothering to understand how it works? And what did we end up with? Confusion, internecine massacres, imprisonment, starvation, exile, political oppression, massive corruption, brain drain, and shameless so-called national leaders trumpeting annual double-digit economic growth while endlessly begging for international handouts. That is why it is important to seriously think about and consider Prof Tecola’s constructive suggestion.

  1. maritu
    | #1

    ato abebe haile,

    please enlighten us how the descendants of haile selassie will solve ethiopia’s manifold problems. how?

    if haile selasie’s children have the right to be kings, why not me? why not you? why not tecola? why not the man in the street?

    you said the descendants of haile selassie represent oromo ,amara and tigree. who will represent the remaing 78 nationalities in the king’s blood?

    i will have to hear what other ethiopians have to say

  2. Nahuda
    | #2

    I sense a kind of paradox with regard to this whole idea of monarchy: Given the turmoil in which we find ourselves now, I deem even a “Muslim” of good reason from “Somali” region of the country may unsurprisingly be prepared to entertain this idea, while I think on the contrary an “Amhara” of modern mind from “Shewa” may surprisingly be wary of it… What can we do?

    | #3

    The idea or proposition of Monarchy in future Ethiopia is stupid idea. And as is always, stupid ideas come from stupid person and/or personality. TECOLA IS A LIAR AND TRUE EXAMPLE. Tekola Hagos’s suggestion to bring back the system of government under Monarchy is nothing less than bringing back the bitter and past memory of the suffering PEASANTS (in my opinion ONLY the peasants, wherever administrative they may reside – are the true Ethiopians because they are uneducated, have no desire to flee their country (like Tecola) to seek “better job” in the West but to live in Ethiopia and die in their homeland – Ethiopia. Even if one take Tecola’s suggestion very lightly, still his suggestion is FALSE because he hate kings who struggle to bring Ethiopia as a unified nation. Case in point is Emperor Theodros. Tecola Hagos in his article shamelessly stated that he would bring a charge of Genocide and Crime against Humanity against Theodros had Emperor Theodros could have been living to this day.

    As to abebe Haile’s opinion, it is important to note that the Denmark, Norway and the rest of Scandivanians countries’ example is only workable if Ethiopa was a highly industrialized nation where the labor force the farmers and the industrial workers were in equal proportion where the monarch can not discriminate one against the other. Because Ethiopia is completly a peasant/farmers’ country monarch won’t work like the Scandinvian countries. In a nutshell, if monarchy get foot in Ethiopia it is nothing but armagedon. WE ARE BETTER WITHOUT IT.

  4. Zerayakob Yared
    | #4

    Monarchy,TCHISEGNINET and the time that king poses for photographers feeding PALAST-DOGS with HARAR-SENGA-QUIRTT in the EYEBELIYU, while millions in Wollo and Tigray are starving for luck of even QOLLO, are gone for good. That obsolete topic is interesting only for historians. Of course, all of us should not forget, that, that bestial brutality has existed in our country, so that it does not come once more !

    At present,nations like Germany and Austria are good examples, that life is better with out Monarchy !

    That much for the time being, but if some people want more ….,am ready….

    More important for now, it is better to concentrate on topics like the RAILWAY building projects in a healthy and proper manner like some are doing it on the other ‘sisterly/brotherly’ web.

  5. Anonymous
    | #5

    Japan helps Ethiopia if that is the question, no matter how it’s help is handled, I would say…….you know what.
    But we can only talk about what we know. If Japan is really helping the people of Ethiopia then who ever is doing the
    Damag is who ever doing the damage. In saying who ever is against of developing Ethiopia in healthy way.
    Japan has been investing on a lot of good thing and ways in Ethiopia. And Japanes intererst on that is, healthy and natural world. Who has the potential of bringing more to the world.they do it every day not just with Ethiopia but with every body. They are the soul solders of man kind and the planet if not that is speaking about them in some small ways.
    But it is not or won’t be serprising if we ran out of words talking about Japan and it’s love and history.

    I can talk and talk and Talk………Aluta continual.

  6. DRAMA
    | #6


  7. sissay
    | #7

    i wonder if it is 1966ec for u diasporas !

  8. Deriba
    | #8

    Good idea. No monarchial power as some above seem to suggest, but only a constitutional monarchy without political power whose only purpose will be to serve as a sysmbol of national unity. I believe that is what the writers are suggesting.

  9. aha!
    | #9

    I wish everybody comments under the original article, which is about to be archived as there several articles coming up each week. I am bound to comment under this article siding with Tecola Hagos, regarding constitutional monarchy. Prof. Tecola Hagos three theises that transfer of power has not been easy and can not be made easy by election, citing the current liberation struggles. His second contention/theisis, which he did not elaborate in his article is “Meles Zenawi is doing his very best to continue his treacherous and divisive government putting obstacles and more and more divisive structures to ensure that there will not be a solid opposition to his leadership”. Thirdly, the article the theisis had to be based on comparative analysis among constitutional monarchy, Developmental State economic theory as it is being carried out by the current regime, and liberal democracy and or social democracy, although he did not mention the latter as being adopted By KAEUP and EPRP, where the former is being lectured upon by KEAUP elites. Upon futher scrutiny this article appears to be drafted just before the 2010 election or at least points out to mess created by the split of Kinijit, which ended up party alignments into the three major political models with ethnic agenda and national agenda as their basic party platforms as: TPLF/eprdf regime, Tigrai-Harena/Medrek/fdd/fdre and KAUP and others as well EPRP and others which did not participate in the election standing on the national agenda. This new alignment created two forces one positive force of integration with national agenda and the negative forces of disintegration with ethnic agenda as its core platform. Now comes Medrek/fdd/efdre with ethnic agenda which was prevalent with the loyalist opposition parties, revealing itself as Tigrai-harena/fdd/fdre, forming a mirror image of TPLF/eprdf to form a bicameral chamber of the lower and upper house of the parliament, without any previous engagementin negotiations and failing to negotiate and signinig on to code of conduct agremeements went on and participated in the election and seemingly posing before the US congress as the formidable alternative to the current regime. The election however ended up being a thug of war for voters between Medrek for the votes in the Amahara region because of UDJP being in the coalition and that of Tigrai went to UDJP because Seye was with the UDJP and UDJP is with the coalition, thus appearing like tree way thug of war for electorates, which eventually lost to TPLF/eprdf due the absence of fair and free elction and an independent Election Board to Oversee that and the failure of the implementation of 8-point pre-conditions and the Code of conduct Agreement for fair and free elections.

    That being the environment that prevented fair and free election for peacefull transfer of power to a party with national agenda as its platform, it is unthinkable for Prof. Tecola Hagos to dismiss election, which is one aspect to democracy and democracy is a rule by the people and for the people, rather than the current autocratic rule, ethnocratic rule/ethnic dictatorship, as well the totalitatrian rule as a vestige of the Dergue regime, and its own marxist inclinations from the Marxist student movement of the oppression of nations and nationalities and opt for constitutional Monarchy, which had been dismissed by the Marxist wing of the student movement and facilitated by Dergue regime, without telling how that is going to be accomplished under the current regime, which had been relieved of that task has the Derge not deposed the Emperor Hailesellassie. It should also be noted that the Emperor Haile sellassies and the Dergue regime foght to maintain the unity and the territorial integrity of Ethiopia, and for that matter the Dergue regime, which close to command controll economic theory shoud be included as an option to the Ethiopian economic system and discuss it without bias. The notion of trying to throw this concept of constitutional monarchy, which rected by the leftist movements, including EPRP, the Dergue supporters and yet not by the silent majority
    diverts the the attention of those engaged with the national agenda for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians under liberal and or social democracy, that it hurts those with ethnic agenda and on the path to Develpopmental state economic theory in the East Asian Style with a different constituional frame work than ours.

  10. aha!
    | #10

    Correction: in the last senence: that “it does not hurt, instead it hurts”

  11. Lucy in America
    | #11

    Haileselasie’s desendent?where are they right now? 1.his grond daughter[ wife's of hailu shawul's son ] is working for weyane arround weyane’s proticolists.2. his grond som. mekonnen endalekachew bought wabisheba hotel from the hand of TPLF.3. asrat kass’s son is working for weyane in ireland .4. his second son is middleline, he is doing nothing for the struggle to save ethiopia.If we have to have a constitutional monarchy back, we should give the people to elect for once and for all.instead of bring those canner decesdents back, we can crown W/t Birtukan midkessa as an ethiopia’s first queen. she dserves that and I am sure she can bring ethiopians together and unify. She is from two majorities ethnice groups and I think both sides will be oky for her appointment..

  12. Lucy in America
    | #12

    I am pro constitutional monarchy with out political power. just as a unified symbole .

  13. wediwollo
    | #13

    No more monarchs, please! When millions of Welloyes were dying of starvation, the monarchs of Ethiopia preferred to spend millions of dollars for the luxury of thier cats and dogs! These are man eaters, it is shame and stupid to compare them with those who built great empires, brought tremendous wealth and national pride to their people.what is Hailesillase known for? for keeping ethiopia backward? for steering it to be colonized? for murdering patriots like Belay Zeleke? for ordering the first airial bomabrdment of its people?

  14. aha!
    | #14

    What is at the heart of the problem for the opposition paties is the divergent views based on national and ethnic agenda. Those with national agenda are bound by the goals for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Those with ethnic agenda are mainly focused on maintainig ethnic rights, protect human rights and support democracy along with the pro-democracy movements since after the split of Kinijit in 2006 engaed in promoting democracy, protect human rights and bring justice in Ethiopia, where both the democracy movement and the loyalist opposition parties lost sight of the big picture: that the country is gripped with ethnic and secessionist polics and /or policies, in the name of ethnic fedralism and seccessionism on top of totalianism. This set up/or constitutional frame work serves as the opperating system with utilities and tools to implent the constitution. The current regime is there to uphold/defend the constitution with the help of the teletafi and loyalist opposition parties explicetely and implicitiely against the those parties with national agenda as its major contenders and also going after the liberation movements as terroist in armed struggle.

    Untill the opposition parties, focus on the big picture to dismantle ethnic and secessionist politics and /or policies through constitutional reform and restore the balance of powers with the three branches of the government with a democratic government, through an uprising/reaction to freedom of the individuals from autocratic, ethnocratic/ethnic dictatorship and totalitatian rule under ethnic federalism and seccessionism. In other words free the country from the vestiges of totaliarinism of the Derg regime, ethnic federalism and secessionism and replace “Developmental State Economic Theory”, of economic devepment before democracy in the style of East Asian countries and move towards free enterprise /pure capitalism and/or mixed economy with empowerment of and freedom of individuals supeceding ethnic rights, without which one can not advance and /or crate liberal and/or social democracy by overlapping ethnocracy and/or ethnic dictatorship over democracy. With current set up of ethnocracy/ethnic dictatorship, the loyality of the individuals is to the ethnic party Minority or majority ethnic rule). Neither the reccurrence of the constitutional Monarchy nor the contiuation of “Developmenta Economic Theory, run by TPLF and TPLF affiliated enterprises are the solutions to the current economic and political crises in a political economy that is unsustainable, because the model for the supply-demand, and threby the production and the growth models that are related are whacked to cause effect explanations for the five-year plan by the world Bank, Aba Dula’s and Geltaws and Prof. Seid Hassen article inthe distant past, because of the underlying frame work of the constitution, which nowhere similar to the East Asian countries, and yet takes the form of the appatheid system of South Afica for the most part. So what is at stake in this regard is restoring Ethiopian Nationalism and Ethiopian National Interests as core contentious issues from the stand point of the constitution.

  15. koster
    | #15

    To propose a Monarch is “YECHENEQEW ERGUZ YAGEBAL”. We lost several of Ethiopians to end monarchy and now we are again proposing Monarchy. All what we need is a free and democratically elected leader whose terms and powers are limited not tyrants like Meles or any other like him.

  16. Haileyesus
    | #16

    There are a lot of kings of gojam, wolayita, tigre, kaffa, oromo, etc. If a monarchy is proposed, all these tribal kings should compete in a free and fair manner and elect their king. the one who becomes a king must have 79 wives from the different tribes in order to have affiliation with them. he must produce children from his wives of the 79 different tribes. The future king will be selected among his 300 or so children on the recommendation of the house of kings comprising of kings from amhara, wolyita, tigre, kaffa, gambella, etc. This might preserve ethiopa’s unity instead of the juda king of amahara-tigre-oromo blood.

  17. Kassech Tadesse
    | #17

    It is an idea whose time has come. Ethiopians as a nation have not benefitted from the experiment conducted on their behalf. It has been tragically a step backward for the nation and a means for dictatorial ethnic based
    It is wise to know when change is due. We need to cut our losses and consider “constitutional Monarchy”.
    We have to consider Haile Selassies’ line because history demands it. Time has proved Haile Selassie had Ethiopia first in his dealings, thoughts. Constitutional Monarchy should correct some of the excesses.

  18. astra
    | #18

    In a democracy Ethiopians can organize themselves and form a political party in any fashion including as supporters of a monarchy. What we have to guard against is being organized around ETHNICITY, RELEGION or LANGUAGE.
    Ato Tecola is the last person to suggest a monarchy as he has an abiding and enduring hatred of the Amhara – unless, of course, he believes that the Amhara should be excluded from the “monarchy-seeking group”.

  19. aha!
    | #19

    Haileyesus the pragmatic solution to Ethiopia’s political and economic crises is to dismantle ethnic and secessionist politics and/or policies spearheaded by TPLF and perhaps EPLF and supported by the teletafi parties, resort to the original provinces, where each one of them become fedreated states with varied ethnic groups, having their own constitution, and the ethnic populations in each state and in the country thrive much like the species populations of animals and plants follwing the natural and man made laws. The ethnic populations have been intermixed by marriage, immigration and wars in the past centuries, and cultures and tranditions have been intermixed as well. Further development of language cultures need to be encouraged to bring these languages in par with Amharic, the official language for learning and commerce, for them to learn in their own language in addition to Amharic.

    The criteria of Ethiopian Emperor to have 79 wives to produce candidates to hold the position of constitutional monarchy is not only accepted by the chritians or the moslems, but is also impractical, as your response to the idea the previous kings were tied by marriage with the kings from other ethnic groups and their adminstration is filled by intellectuals and or reliable officials from the different ethnic groups.

    Upon reflective thinking, political power for the office of the Emperors have been shifitng from one province to another to govern over the feudal kings, where there may have been wars,”Zemetcha’s” to induce the king(s) to pay taxes(s)/tributes/ to the central government mainly to pay the salaries of the standing army which may have been compensated with land grants, whch have been at the height of contention by the Liberation Movements spear headed by TPLF and EPLF, leaning towards the oppression of nations and nationalities, while EPRP and others were contending for land reform against Eperor Haileselassie’s regime, that came into effect under the banner “Aetiopia Tikem yaleminim dem” .

    Upon the collapse of USSR, and the subsequent collapse of the Dergue regime, the TPLF and EPLF ideology of ethnic and secessionist politics took a foothold, while retaining the commnistic totalitarian ideolgy in the background with the idea of implenenting democracy and capitalism, where democracy and capitalism is apparently linked to TPLF and TPLF affialiated enterprises which have access to land and capital, exploiting and having a political strangle hold of the country’s resources and its people along with the exappropriation of lands by foreign governments and corporations. You may want to draw a conclusion as to the damages cused by the previous regime in relation to damges caused by the current regime emanating from its consttuional frame work to repair the damages of past by dividing the country into nine ethnic boundries, instead of eighty, or living them with their original provincial boundries. That is where the rubber meets the road”, not the currnt nor the past rulers have have 79 wives, nor have intermarraiges with rulers from families of the different ethnic groups, which serves as response to you and Abebe Haile, the supporter of Constitutional monarchy, a nostalgia with mixed emotions, and diversionary idea from among the supporters for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignity of Ethiopia to take power from the multi-layer, hierarchical political model of TPLF/eprdf regime.

  20. Samuel
    | #20

    First of all this article is the most rubbish article I have seen regarding the Ethiopian poltics. I can understand that Tecola Hagos is trying to divert the attention from Woyane thugs. He had worked with them for quite some time in the 1990s. Secondly the Solomonic Dynasty proponents are having a de ja vu euphoria since this article has gotten some ears. All of these guys know that there is no take for Monarchy in today’s Ethiopia under all kinds of circumstances. We know that the TPLF had been toying with them. But the TPLF toys with every group that is not a threat for its dominance in Ethiopian poltics today. There will come a time when TPLF’s games will be over in a short order.
    What is needed now by all stake holders is not to play a game of defeatist poltics. It requires the courage of Woyanes to unsit Woyanes. Stay focused, strengthen the grass roots movement and target the heart of Woyane regime. Do not play right and left since you will be aimless. There are millions of people disaffected by the TPLF and ready to march if given the proper guidance. That guidance is not constitutional or prositutional monarchy. The age of Solomic dynasty ended in 1974 Eth. Calendar. Good ridance.

  21. Derbabaw
    | #21


    I thank you for pointing out the irrelevancy of the notion of constitutional monarchy ,as urgent solution to Ethiopia current event as proposed by Dr.Tecola Hagos ,and seconded by Abebe Haile.This fancy of constitutional monarchy by Dr.Tecola is calculated to excite some Shewan’s in to buying it,however,it turned out politics in bad taste. Of course every one has any right to a comment. But the question who among Ethiopians is seeking urgent political solution to end the weyane a partied regime ought to be one of the criteria we employ to give answer to this question.If we simply ask ourselves honest question such as this one we will discover many Ethiopians who come in opinion piece do so for various reasons. Some are government supporters; others bring to these forums ideas, at a critical moment, just to divert attention or to take our focus from the proposed task at hand.
    Surly, currently, Ethiopian political activists, those who are actively, discuss issues that that matters, such as, about the popular aprising.For instance, mobilizing Ethiopians for protest against the new web of arrest of members of the media is suitable comments. This is how one is able to tell between those who are actually engaged ,and are in opposition to the regime and those who are pretending .The later group wait for convenient season to make their move,curently,Tecola seem to be encouraged by Messy Lebed’s message to share his fancey.As Samuel pointed out above All this and similar methods are used by weyane to divert the attention of oponents,divide,and weaken. That is why the many of Tigrians who pretend to be opposing the regime, there is a good reason for their loyalty to the cause of the people can be a suspect. The rank and file of the Ethiopian opposition as always is one step ahead, and distinguishes between those who are for the people and enemies of the public. The rank also promptly asks all the major opposition leaders to bring the different political organizations less than one core based on common principle. Only the unity of our people and prolonged solidarity of Ethiopians is able dislodge the common bandage we are in.

  22. Girmachew
    | #22

    Monarchy YES or NO ?

    Most Ethiopians now agree that the Haile Selassie regime was bad,
    the Mengistu Haile Mariam regime was worse, and the Meles Zenawi regime is the worst.

    All three regimes were dictatorial even though they had so-called parliaments and held elections.
    Still we can say that the parliament in the Haile Selassie era had more influence than the one in the Meles Zenawi era.
    Ethiopians were most free during the era of Haile Selassie. What is worth mentioning in the Haile Selassie era is the government’s patriotic and pan Africanistic foreign policy that might have led hostile western powers to conspire against the Emperor to topple his regime using enemies within Ethiopia as a tool like the infantile students.It is very likely that those students were influenced by mentally colonized Eritreans, who began to arrive in Ethiopia after the 1940s, to disrespect and reject Ethiopian values,institutions and society. The Eritreans in turn were brainwashed to hate,reject and despise everything that is their own and worship everything that is Italian and European during 50 years of colonial rule.
    The Haile Selassie government should have anticipated the negative effects mentally colonized Eritreans could have on the Ethiopian society and taken countermeasures.In that case who knows we might still be living in a monarchy albeit in a reformed one.

    What is common to all three regimes is that they used the army to crush dissent and stay in power against the will of the people. That can be prevented in the future if state and government are separated and the army and intelligence organizations come under the control of the head of state or the king.

  23. decency
    | #23

    What a hell of the professional hate-mongerors are we having days? Some seems born to insult shamelessly to an idea proposed as one generate solution…One may not support or even oppose critically in a civil manner to his ideas but one does not have any moral ground to dismiss his all propossions….Tecola..keep going while the dogs are barking!!

  24. decency
    | #24

    What a hell of the professional hate-mongers are we having these-days? Some seemed born to insult shamelessly to an idea proposed as someone tried to generate would be a solution…One may not support or even oppose critically in a civil manner to his ideas but one does not have any moral ground to dismiss his all propossions….Tecola..keep going while the dogs are barking!!

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