Worth of a second Ethiopian government in exile By Robele Ababya

March 3rd, 2012 Print Print Email Email


The idea of an Ethiopian government in exile has been mooted for some time. The purpose of this piece is to examine the viability of that government and the chance (probability) of success in forming it given the lack of trust among the opposition forces to unite. Besides, there is already one formed by the Crown Council of Ethiopia in exile. The aim of this writing is to sincerely trigger civilized debate without fear or favor. Let us briefly delve into the repertoire of history on the subject in order to agree on the best way forward.

The submission in this piece is made in the context of Ethiopian politics starting with the Kushite Kingdom of Ethiopia since the dawn of written history followed by the Solomonic Dynasty marked by the forced dethroning of Emperor Haileselassie who had neither renounced His power nor surrender to the Mengistu regime. It is further assumed that our long history confirms that we have come a very long way in building one unbreakable multicultural society within one country as amply demonstrated in the May 15, 2005 Ethiopian election where one’s ethnic background was not a factor in dealing a humiliating defeat to the ruling brutal regime.

Actions of governments in exile

Readers are invited to make the entry “List of governments in exile” and run a Google search to find the following texts in quotation extracted for the purpose of this piece:
“International law recognizes that governments in exile may undertake many types of actions in the conduct of their daily affairs. These actions include:

• becoming a party to a bilateral or international treaty
• amending or revising its own constitution
• maintaining military forces
• retaining (or “newly obtaining”) diplomatic recognition by sovereign states
• issuing identity cards
• allowing the formation of new political parties
• instituting democratic reforms
• holding elections
• allowing for direct (or more broadly-based) elections of its government officers, etc.”

“Governments in exile frequently occur during wartime occupation, and sometimes also in the aftermath of a civil war, revolution, military coup, or widespread belief in the illegitimacy of a ruling government. For example, during the German expansion of the Second World War, some European governments sought refuge in the United Kingdom rather than face destruction at the hands of Nazi Germany. The effectiveness of a government in exile depends mainly on the support it can get from foreign governments on the one hand and from the population of its own country on the other. Some governments in exile can develop into a formidable force, posing a serious challenge to the rival in actual possession of the country, while others are mainly maintained as a symbolic gesture with little effect on the actual situation.”

Emperor Haileselassie’s Government in exile
The 235th Monarch of the Solomonic dynasty, Emperor Haileselassie I was forced into exile in Great Britain on 2nd of May 1936. He took with Him the aura of the famous Battle of Adwa at which His cousin Emperor Menilik II scored a humiliating victory over Italy that not only shockingly surprised European powers but also became a beacon of hope for all oppressed black people in the world struggling for their freedom and dignity.

The Monarch played key diplomatic roles among which his prophetic speech to the League of Nations of which Ethiopia was one of the founding members. The unheeded prophetic speech came to pass when Hitler and Mussolini made an alliance to conquer the rest of Europe in World War II. The alliance of the duo became a decisive opportunity for Ethiopia in that Great Britain, France and even the USA that were supportive of the Italian Fascist occupation before the breakout of WW II changed their minds and forged alliance with Ethiopia to help the Monarch militarily or otherwise to return to Ethiopia and regain and sit on his throne to exercise His power. This is perhaps a unique case in history where heads of exiled government made a successful comeback to power.

In implementing most of the actions permitted under the corresponding international law, Emperor Haileselassie made excellent use of His: remarkably superb diplomatic skills, charismatic stature, exemplary decorum and rich heritage. He gave interviews that were broadcast in Great Britain and the USA, made His famous speech to the League of Nations, and issued travel documents to His subjects in exile, ad infinitum. The peoples of Great Britain and the USA were roundly sympathetic to His cause in spite of their governments siding with Mussolini at first before WW II broke out. His Majesty had considerable support of his subjects in His occupied country, Ethiopia.

The Emperor had written a book titled “ሕይዎቴና የኢትዮጵያ እርምጃ” (My Life and Progress of Ethiopia) in which His Majesty vividly explains about His activities and ordeals in exile in London and until His eventual return to Ethiopia. It is very much worthwhile reading the book.

Crown Prince Asfawosen’s government in exile

Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen was proclaimed Emperor of Ethiopia in exile in April 1989 at his residence in London taking the throne name Amha Selassie. The Emperor and Empress in exile moved to Virginia a year later. He founded the Moa Anbesa in 1991 – a “Monarchist Movement to promote a monarchial restoration in Ethiopia and announced his intention to return to his country for a visit”. Source: Google.

Emperor Amha Selassie’s intended return to Ethiopia had to be postponed over the TPLF’s refusal to hold state funeral for the late Emperor Haile Selassie.

Prince Ermias Sahleselassie’s government in exile

The Crown Council of Ethiopia under the leadership of His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahleselassie claimed exile in 1974 and declared so in 1973. The Council is located in the Washington D.C. area and claims that the Emperor is the legal head of Ethiopia. It is active in matters of vital interest to Ethiopia such as demanding the Vatican to apologize for its blessing of Mussolini’s army to invade Ethiopia; the return of the properties of the Royal Family in which it had partially succeeded; participation in internal politics under the umbrella of “Lion of Judah” It would be foolhardy to underestimate the rising popularity of the Council made possible by the atrocities perpetrated by the Mengistu and Meles regimes in the past 37 years of their gruesome violations of basic human rights and mismanagement of the national resources.

Concluding remarks

In an article entitled “Government in exile for Eritrea” posted on the EthiopianReview website on 04 February 2008, the Editor’s Note reads: “Woyanne is creating an Eritrean government in exile composed of Eritrean opposition groups, according to the Reuters’ report above. Ethiopian Review has been urging Ethiopian opposition parties create an Ethiopian government in exile or a shadow government. The Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (AFD) can serve as a good platform for the creation of such government.”

But this writer would like to inform readers that AFD itself failed to take off due to sabotaging by habitually disruptive elements among other reasons.

As it were,” too many cooks spoil the broth”; this old adage clearly suggests the number of political forces and civic organizations opposed to the misrule of tyrant Zenawi should for the sake of effectiveness be voluntarily reduced through mergers and coalitions as long as their goal is to evict the TPLF repressive regime from power and bring its leader to justice. In this way, resources could be better distributed and focused to shorten the days of the brutal ruling party in power.

Notwithstanding his unswerving strong support for the UDJP, this writer sees the practicability of a constitutional Monarch as head of state without any executive power emulating the example of the U.K. for an example. On the other hand, the head of government should be elected by nationwide suffrage through fair and free election in which various political parties vie for power.

To think of any other rival government in exile to be formed opposition forces in the Diaspora is a pipe dream unachievable in practice given their failure to forge unity in the past 37 years. Add to these diehard political entities with their fossilized selfish attitude that has been detrimental to unity over the same period.

Finally, this writer would like to bring to the attention of readers that the idea of a constitutional Monarch was contemplated immediately after the breakout of the Ethiopian revolution in 1974 and, in fact, a draft constitution to that effect was circulated. The idea is still likely to be an acceptable option, but it is only the Ethiopian people that can so decide in a referendum.

The need for coordinated civil strikes for peaceful change is urgent! Act now to save UDJP/Medrek leaders from the wrath and onslaught of Zenawi.


Release all political prisoners in Ethiopia including Andualem Aragie, Iskinder Nega, Nathnael et al


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