Democratic Self-rule Federalism: The Legitimacy of Self-Determination in Ethiopia By Professor, Desta Asayehgn

January 27th, 2016 Print Print Email Email

Based on the recent unrest that has been precipitated by the Oromo people in Ethiopia, a number of observers such as Davison, 2015; Muindi, 2016; and Borago, 2016, have argued that the Addis Ababa Master Plan has not only undermined self-determination but also contributed to a further loss of autonomy and the marginalization of Oromos living on the outskirts of the Federal capital, Addis Ababa. As stated by the European Parliament (1, 21, 2016): for the past two months,

…Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia, has been hit by a wave of mass protests over the expansion of the municipal boundary of the capital, Addis Abba, which has posed risks of eviction for farmers from their land.

Initially, the Ethiopian Government argued that it planned to use its Master Plan to expand the limits of the Federal City of Addis Ababa into the Oromo Regional State. Agitators believe there are hidden motives in this plan. Countering the attacks, Ethiopian Government Officials and their surrogates argue that the strategic plan depicted in the Addis Ababa Master Plan is nothing but a topographic sketch meant to enhance and foster the development of both Addis Ababa and the Oromo Regional States.That is, with the expansion of Addis Ababa to include lands that belong to the Oromos, it was assumed that this would contribute substantial direct and spillover benefits to both regions. In addition, if the plan were implemented, the government has stated that any evicted farmers in the Oromo Region might be given reasonable compensation.

Araia (2016) candidly asserts that the Addis Ababa-Oromia Integrated Master Plan is not by any means related to ‘land garp’. However, he Araia persuasively criticizes the EPRDF governing party for the “1) lack of transparency: the government should have clearly and openly explained the nature and characteristics of the Integrated Master Plan; 2) lack of peaceful resolution to the crisis once the people (mostly youth) in the Oromia region began protesting …”.

While there is a long way to go before achieving the intricately designed Article 39 of the 1994 Ethiopian constitution, the magnitude of the Oromo uprising has given a plausible signal for the possibility of secession or the dismemberment of the Oromo Region from Ethiopia’s political landscape. Given these debatable views, the questions that need to be posed at this juncture are: Besides self-determination and/or secession, does Article 39 as codified in the 1994 Ethiopian Constitution allow for a possible expansion or at the extreme amalgamation of regional states in Ethiopia? Did the respective regional communities or their representatives effectively bargain for their interests, express their grievances, and divulge their aspirations before the Addis Ababa Master Plan was designed? To examine thesepivotal questions, the content of Article 39 of the 1994 Ethiopian Constitution is briefly reviewed.

The Structure of the Ethiopia’s Polity
After dismantling the brutal and authoritarian Derg regime in 1991, the Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE), led by the Peoples’ Revolutionary Front (EPRDF), subdivided the Ethiopian polity into nine autonomous regional statesand two federally administered city states. In the second phase that started in 2001, the EPRDF further embarked on the devolution of powers and responsibilities of the woreda,or lower level of administration. As highlighted by Assefa (2015),the 1991 manifestation of decentralization was aimed at creating and empowering national and regional states of governments, whereas as the second phase of decentralization extended the devolution of powers to the woreda.

A number of people supporting centralized states warned against devolution, because it might serve as the ‘Trojan horse to independence.’ Others were concerned that extending devolution to Ethiopian localities might cause major inequalities with regard to economic development, taxes, opportunities and administrative performances.Thus, from the start, Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution faced a ‘Pandora’s Box’ of criticisms. Merera (2003), for instance, strongly argues that the application of Article 39 would wipe the state of Ethiopia from the political map of the world. Fleiner (2006), warned that if self-determination, up to and including secession, as warranted in Article 39 of the federal constitution, is seriously implemented, the viability and existence of Ethiopianfederal states is likely to become highly questionable. Actually, Ethiopia is a heterogeneous or multicultural society.The fact that the then Transitional Government in Ethiopia by and large used homogenous ethnic denominations to subdivide Ethiopia and restructure Ethiopia into different political regions was less controversial than the inclusion of Article 39 in the 1994 Ethiopian Constitution.

Article 39 includes various impediments to its application. For example, it renders an unconditional right to self-determination, including the right of secession to regional states, as follows:a) a demand for secession has been approved by two-thirds majority of the members of the regional parliament, b) the federal government arranges for a nation-wide plebiscite within 3 years after receiving the demand for secession, and c) the demand for secession is supported by majority vote in the referendum.

As shown above, Article 39 of the 1994 Ethiopian Constitution was vaguely worded. It also includes clearing various insurmountable impediments before it is implemented. Intuitively Article 39 appeared appealing not only to emotionally charged ethnic groups but also to those who were infatuated with Lenin’s concept of the “National Question” issue because it used to be the driving slogan of the Ethiopian student movement in the late 1960s. A sober examination of Article 39 gives an impression that it might have been purposely included in the 1994 Constitution not with the intention of granting ultimate secession rights to a regional stateof Ethiopia after referendum is consummated, but rather to be used as a tactical selling point to lure members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) into remaining participants in the Ethiopian political union. With this in mind, it would make sense to assume that although the other regional groups didn’t ask for it, the exercise of self-determination was imposed on them, even their right to declare for secession, if their conditions were to become inhumane and excessively intolerable.

A case in point is that history tells us that the former Soviet Union subscribed to Lenin’s politically designed concept of the “National Question,” and pronounced the right of self- determination in its constitution, but the member states never acted to secede or separate from the Soviet Union during its tenure.The most glaring aspect of secessionism is that though China included the right to secede in its constitution of 1931, after China was fully consolidated, it had to remove it from its Constitution when the Chinese Constitution was revised in 1975 (kreptul, A. 2003).

It is known that the value of geographical and economic ties and the advantages of a big market and big state induce economic of scale and efficiency. Based on this economic premise, Lenin might have argued that the masses resort to secession only when national oppression and national friction make joint life absolutely intolerable and hinder them from all economic intercourse the masses (Lenin cited by Dixon, 2016).Thus, contradicting those who opposed self-determination and the freedom to secede as stated in Article 39 of the Ethiopian 1994 Constitution, as an ardent supporter of the Lenin’s persuasive ideology, the EPRDFforcefully defended Lenin’s position for self-determination and secession. As articulated by the ideologies of the EPRDF, democratic federalism increases self-government and political participation. Therefore, instead of dismantling the Ethiopian Federal state, the EPRDF ideologies forcefully claimed that Article 39 would consolidate and harmonize all groups of Ethiopia and provide for a better life. Given this contextual argument, the question that needs to be addressed here is: Has the creation of a democratic federal structure ever advanced the formation of self-government and political participation, or created uncorrupt systems of governance at the local or woreda level in Ethiopia?

Before assessing the status of democracy in Ethiopia, it is worth looking at some of the basic elements of democracy. Among other things, as a system of government, democracy includes: 1) a political system of competition of power that is based on free election- such that those in authority are selected, monitored , and replaced, 2) the active participation of the people, as citizens, in political and civic life, 3)consensus-oriented decision making process, 4) accountability and transparency, 5) the tenets of human rightsprinciples, and 6) the existence of a rule of law that applies equally to all citizens (See, UNESCAP 2010; UNDP 2002; and World Bank, 2007). Bearing some of elements of this framework, let us look at the status of democracy in Ethiopia.

The Status of Democracy in Ethiopia

Two decades after the implementation of federalism in Ethiopia, Turton’s (2005:92-93) assessment of the Ethiopian political space indicates that Ethiopia, which was on the brink of collapse during the centrist feudal monarchy and the unitary military dictatorship, there structuring of Ethiopia as an ethnic-based federation has been an undeniable success. Although some internal and external opposition groups occasionally trigger some form of violence, it is manageable. Currently, Ethiopia provides peace and security for the great majority of the population and is reasonably stable. Similarly, an analysis of the implementation of Ethiopia’s federalism bythe World Bank reveals that Ethiopia:

…has embarked on a bold and thoughtful process of decentralization, which has been supported by a widely shared consensus over both the development strategy and objectives, and very large transfers of united resources from the federal government to the regions. At this point the system is unquestionably working well (1999).

However more specifically, on the status of democracy in Ethiopia, the Africa Report (2009) claims that the dominance of one party behind the façade of regional and local autonomy and an extensive patronage system have severely hampered such a utopian view and the proclamation of democratic rhetoric has not been matched by democratic practice. In actuality, the African Report states that the Ethiopian type of Federalism has allowed new ethnic elites to emerge but has not fundamentally altered the principle of the elite-based paternalistic politics of the past.

As it stands, Ethiopia’s democracy is represented as a plan-oriented development process. The current Ethiopian organization structure is ruled by paternalistic political rule. Instead of power flowing from the people to the leaders, the EPRDF controls the government. The existing bureaucracy is managed by civil servants, functionaries that are primarily members of the political party. The 1994 Constitution is supposed to provide for a multiparty electoral system to promote political choice and guarantee the democratic rights of the all Ethiopian people. However, Araia’s (2013) observation seems to indicate that Ethiopia is led by the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) that has been reluctant to reconcile democracy and government.

In every election, the opposition political parties in Ethiopia have complained of harassment and intimidation. As ascertained by the Africa Development Bank (2009), opposition parties perceive an absence of a level playing field, attributing the outcome of the electoral process to have narrowed the democratic space.The electoral process appears to lack administration by a neutral and professional body that treats all political parties equally.

It is pivotal that citizens in a democratic system participate in public life. Also, participation comes not only in public services but arises through active membership in civic affairs. However, a cursory look at the Ethiopian local (woreda) levels shows that residents are hardly empowered. They have not been able to participate meaningfully in selecting their representatives for public offices, except when the outcome is a forgone conclusion.The local people do not have the right to choose their leaders. In name, all local (woredas) are supposed to be autonomous and the leaders are chosen by the local people, however, the zone governors, mayors, and killel leaders are carefully chosen by the ruling party from the hard core cadres of the governing party. As observed, this kind of system has encouraged voter apathy and has allowed the existing ruling party to perpetuate its power.

A case in point is this. During the last election in 2015, some of the federal members of parliament were never endorsed by their constituents and never went to their local areas to present their agendas for the future. To add insult to injury, some of the candidates never cared to listen to the concerns of their constituents. Being faithful and accountable to their political party, the cadres were endorsed; a green signal was given to the constituent units to elect them rather than encouraging the local people to be active members of the election process (Desta, 2015). This clearly indicates that the citizens of Ethiopia are being denied their basic rights. Democracy entails abiding by a system of rule by laws, and not by individuals or parties. Therefore, if Ethiopia wants to exist as a viable country, the political climate needs to be competitive and the existing ruling party needs to stimulate voters to entertain many options. This would rekindle reforms in Ethiopia’s polity.

Building a democracy out of the ruins of a brutal dictatorship and highly cherished command system requires courage. For the last twenty five years, by design or default, Ethiopia has been on slippery slope, governmentally, though it has been participating in a very successful market economy. To support more strongly the path to democracy, however, the ruling party, EPRDF, has the duty to encourage local residents to choose their representatives. To foster dynamism within the Ethiopian political climate, the ruling party must encourage and allow other parties to compete equally on a level playing field. If the EPRDF doesn’t stimulate other parties to reorganize and compete against it, it is very likely that the EPRDF Party will lose its early dynamism and it then resort to authoritarianism its stay in power.

Conclusion
Given the current political unrest that has mushroomed within the Oromo regional division, it would have been possible to resolveit peacefully before it arose, if the Ethiopian governors were willing to accept and respect the democratic rights of their citizens. It is because the Oromo people were excluded and the system failed to listen to them that the whole situation turned ugly. The result was, it didn’t only frustrate the Oromos, but triggered a number of Oromo university students to act violently. Before it got out of hand, and in accordance with autonomy and self-determination as stated in the 1994 Ethiopian Constitution (such as, autonomy over culture, religion, education, language, land, physical structures etc), the local people of the two regions should have entered into a fruitful dialogue.

It is possible that the expansion plan of Addis Ababa might have been intended for a good cause. But, as it stands now, the Plan infringes on the self-determination clause and violates the rights of the Oromo People. Since democracy is based on compromise, if the Addis Ababa Regional Unit wants to expand, for whatever purpose, the Oromo people and the residents of Addis Ababa need to sit down with one another and negotiate, and openly reexamine the direct and spillover effects of Addis Ababa’s expansion plan. Now, the government’s decision to scrap the Addis Ababa Master Plan is welcomed because as stated by the European Parliament (January 19, 2016) it
…calls for an immediate inclusion and transparent political dialogue, including the government, opposition parties, civil representatives and the local population preventing any further violence or radicalization of the population; takes the view that such dialogue, conducting to the democratization of the country, is not possible under the current political conditions.”

Finally, Article 39 of the 1994 Ethiopian Constitution was politically motivated and not meant to be practiced. It has created anxiety and disillusionment in the Ethiopian people. Now it is worthy that the Ethiopian Parliament, democratically nominated and elected by the people, deliberate on the relevance of Article 39 in the Ethiopian society. Personally, I am of the opinion that if Article 39 of the Ethiopian Constitution, as in China, is being deleted from the Ethiopian Constitution, it will give respite to the Ethiopian people from the intolerable headache they endured for the last twenty five years. Instead of cogitating over this incurable disorder, borrowed from elsewhere, it is better for the open-minded nature of the Ethiopian people to become visionary and seriously dwell on pursuing fulfillment of democracy in Ethiopia. Of course, Ethiopia can’t achieve full-fledged democracy without undergoing challenging hardships. Since the existing political structure of Ethiopia is impossible, the existing federated system needs to be further divided into manageable autonomous democratic units.

In short, the goals of a democratic and self-ruling federalism created by the Ethiopian people needs to guarantee self-determination, provide for power-sharing, and contribute to government stability. It needs to be transparent and include a reciprocal relationship between central and local governments, and between local governments and citizens.Through the transfer of authority, responsibility, and accountability from the central to local governments, democratic political decentralization incorporates both devolution and power to develop, implementing policy, and fostering the extension of the democratic processes to lower levels of government (Barnett, C. et al 1997, and Araia, 2013).

References:
1. Africa Development Fund, (March 2009). Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia: Country Governance Profile. Governance, Economic & Financial Reforms Department (OSGE), Country Regional Department East (OREB).
2. Araia, G. (2013). Ethiopia: Democracy, Devolution of Power, &The Developmental State.” New York: Institute of Development & Education for Africa.
3. Araia, G. (January 18, 2016). Ethiopia Should Manage Internal Political Crisis and Deflect Threats. Ethiopian Observer.
4. Assefa Fiseha (2007): Federalism and the Accommodation of Diversity in Ethiopia. A Comparative Study. Nijmegen: Wolf Legal Publishers.
5. Barnett, C. Henry P. Minis, and VanSant J (December 1997). Democratic Decentralization.Research Triangle Institute.
6. Borago,T.(2016). “Ethiopia: the only way forward is compromise and consensus.” http://www.ethiomedia. Com/1010ideas/4799.html.Retrieved January 3, 2016.
7. Davison,W. (December 14,2015). “Ethiopia Sees Fatal Ethnic Clash in Oromia, Group Says” Bloomberg Business.
8. Desta, A (2015). “Economic Growth and Governance in Ethiopia: An Observation” Ethiopian Observer.
9. Dixon, N. (Nov. 1994). “Marx, Engels and Lenin on the national question” International Journal of Socialist Renewal. http:links.org.au/node/164. Retrieved , January 4, 2016.
10. Ethiopia: Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 1994.
11. European Parliament (January 19, 2016). Motion for resolution, 2014-2019, B8-0121/2016.
12. Fleiner, T. (November 2006). “Challenges of Devolution and Power Sharing Structures in Federations.” Paper for the Conference of SAIS and SOAS, London, November 17-19th, 2006.
13. Kreptul, A. (2003). “The Constitutional Rights of Secession in Political Theory and History”. Journal of Libertarian Studies, 17(4), 39-100.
14. Lijphart, A (1968). The Politics of Accommodation: Pluralism and Democracy in the Netherlands. Berkeley: University of California.
15. Lijphart, Arend (1977). Democracy in Plural Societies: A comparative explanation. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
16. Merera, Gudina (2003): Ethiopia: Competing Ethnic Nationalisms and the Quest for
Democracy, 1960-2000. Addis Ababa: Chamber Printing Press.
17. Muindi, M. (2016). “Why Ethiopia is making a historic “master plan” U-turn.” BBC Monitoring.
18. Turton, D. (2005, 92-93).Ethnic Federalism: The Ethiopian Experience in a Comparative Perspective. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
19. UNESCAP (2010). http:www.nuescap.org/pdd/prs/projectActivities/Ongoing/gg/goerance.asp. Bankkok, Thailand.
20. UNDP (2002).Human Development Report 2002:DeepeningDemocracyin a Fragmented World. New York: Oxford University Press.
21. World Bank Group (2001). “ Decentralization & Subnational Regional Economics”.

  1. Alem
    | #1

    Fellow Ethiopians,
    Every time you come across articles by Desta Asayehgn, Ghelawdewos Araia, Tecola Hagos, and Teodros Kiros please do the following.
    1/ go back and read three articles by each published at least a year apart;
    2/ begin by assuming they have an agenda hidden behind their “academic” credentials, academic sounding phrases that are really meant to show how learned they are and the rest are not, with the aim to deceiving lazy foreign journalists and donor communities and to keeping the status quo that is Tplf rule;
    3/ Let us briefly see what Desta is saying in the article above.
    Desta suggests Article 39 needs to go or something like that. Why would he say that this late in the game? Because the present uprising and massacre of unarmed civilians has shown the depth of hatred for Tplf rule as well as shaken Tplf to the core with worse possible opposition to come. The question for Desta is how to salvage Tplf rule, period. He is so dishonest and arrogant that he does not for a moment suspect somebody reading his article may actually detect his darkened intention. Desta then goes on to explain away Tplf criminality in terms of “phases” in “devolution as empowerment” to put forth the idea that “the existing federated system needs to be further divided into manageable autonomous democratic units.” Guess who appoints the managers for the “autonomous democratic units?” Guess who benefited in the guise of property rights and “eminent domain” clause? In other words, Tplf machine is facing a steep hurdle and it is expedient to put away Article 39 [now Desta's Trojan Horse] to carry on business by other means. Also, watch who Desta quotes to support his argument [Araia, Assefa Fiseha, and himself; (let us remember each has argued as did Tecola in support of appointing several deputy prime ministers to Hailemariam in order to consolidate slipping power - all in total disregard for the constitutionality of such a measure; see also who Araia, Tecola, Teodros quote in their articles].
    4/ Now look at Desta’s illustration from history; he writes,
    “history tells us that the former Soviet Union subscribed to Lenin’s politically designed concept of the “National Question,” and pronounced the right of self- determination in its constitution, but the member states never acted to secede or separate from the Soviet Union during its tenure…though China included the right to secede in its constitution of 1931, after China was fully consolidated, it had to remove it from its Constitution when the Chinese Constitution was revised in 1975 (kreptul, A. 2003).”

    Never mind the error in judgment of comparing Ethiopia to the Soviet Union and to China. Desta seems to have not learned a bit in over 40 years and is ready to repeat the same mistake that resulted in the Derg and Tplf. Do you see what Desta is saying? He is preparing us for the “good news” that the Constitution may need revising in order to consolidate power in the hands of Tplf. More importantly, Desta [deliberately] fails to tell us that both Stalin and Mao used mass arrests, kidnappings, purges, murders, and internment to decimate all opposition and to consolidate their power [sound familiar?].

    Please do not take this as a personal attack. I do realize each of us has an agenda, a perspective we promote with levels of intensity and consistency. That is a reality we ought to live with. My concern here is with the rising culture of scholarly deception, of promoting anti-human policies, of bartering one’s integrity for [financial] gains.

    BTW, Do similarly for “opposition” scholars and for Amhara and Oromo scholars and you will be closer to the truth! And then this; KEEP FIGHTING FOR JUSTICE, FAIRNESS AND FREEDOM. Why should Tplf be allowed to do business in all regions in the country and the rest be confined to their respective region? How long before we see looters of state treasury brought before a court of law? Why should Ethiopians be sent to jail for writing their concerns for the welfare of their own country? and so on.

  2. Alem
    | #2

    Oops!
    On Desta’s “manageable autonomous democratic units.”
    Remember Desta is offering breaking up entities such as Oromiya [a repeat in a different way of killil formation in the early 1990s. Tplf already divided up Oromo groups as "Muslim" south v. "Protestant" west; Oromo leaders have yet to open their eyes to see urgency of toning down the blabber about a separate Oromiya]. The operative word here is “manageable” now that things have gotten out of hand. “Democratic” is one of Desta’s [Tplf's] deceptive tactics. Tplf, eternal guerrilla front that it is, began with “democracy” and quickly slunk back into the cave of “revolutionary democracy” when things got out of hand [in elections 2005]. “Autonomous?” What is that?

  3. Megersa
    | #3

    This guy is pro-woyanne or woyanne himself and can not be expected to provide the true picture of the weyanne misrule in Ethiopia. Contrary to what he wants us believe, federalsim or internal self rule does not exist in reality.The TPLF is in charge of governance at all levels and controls both the economic and political powers in the country. The TPLF deception is now obvious to all the non-TPLF sections of the polity in the country and the ongoing unrest in the Oromo region are the outcomes of this awareness.The TPLF is involved in the massive and unprecedented rural and urban land grabs whose negative consequences are massive dispossession and displacements of the poor. The superficial stability the writer refers to is quite misleading because Ethiopia has become more fragile under the divide and rule politics of the TPLF. The unprecedented numbers of ethnic conflicts the front has been inciting as part and part of its divide and rule politics are polarizing the countries ethnic groups and laying the ground for wider and far reaching conflicts that can affect and engulf the whole region. That is why credible International organizations such as Genocide Watch warn of genocide in Ethiopia. The late TPLF chief had also warned of genocide by referring to Interhamwe in 2005. At last I would say that the TPLF members and supporters like professor Desta Asayehegn are only engaged in self deception and their propaganda of federalism and stability in Ethiopia are craps now one would buy.

  4. Kadiro
    | #4

    TPLF-led regime does not use its constitution to rule Ethiopia. Ethiopia is ruled by decrees, which often contradict the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

    Thus, we cannot rely on the Constitution trashed by the regime to resolve Ethiopia’s predicament. We need to develop new ways to resolve the crisis.

  5. Freedom
    | #5

    The current mafia, criminal and unelected government need to go/take a hike. It is beyond reform and repair. It belongs in dust bin of history. The constitution only exist in paper not in practice. It is created to hood wink the international community, various ethio ethnic groups and the general public. In other wards, EPRDF created a constitution that appeared fair, square and democratic in order to secure the support of the international community especially EU/USA and some local political group such as OLF.
    Artilcle 39 of the constitution is totally fake. In order for a region such as Oromo to secede it has to finally get the approval of over 50% of Ethiopians via referendum. Since Oromo people, the majority ethnic group in Ethiopia, only make up 30-40% of ethio population, they will have a great deal of difficulty securing 50% of the national vote. If it is very difficult, if not impossible, for the Oromo people to secure secession from Ethiopia then the chance of success for the other Ethnic groups is 0%. FALSE PROMISE INDEED.

  6. haile
    | #6

    I have problem with the writer of this article

    1. tplf imposed itself on the Ethiopian people by gun and violence. they did not even have Ethiopian programme when they went into the jungle……..tplf went into the jugle to liberate tigre and establish a tigre republic.

    2. once this fascist ethnicist organisation got into power it framed ethnic federalism to divide and rule the country.

    3. Tplf being an organisation that did not have Ethiopian agenda in its political programme,canot be expected to advance Ethiopian INTEREST.
    IN FACT tplf regard Ethiopia as an enemy that must be destroyed.

    4. the so called EPRDf is nothing more than a sattelite organisation conceived and and manipulated by tplf to take orders from tplf. it is a tentacle of tplf in the ethnic killil that tplf established.

    5. TO suggest that tplf /eprdf can be reformed and bring about democracy is an insult to the intelligence of the Ethiopian people.
    Tplf by its nature is a violent , fascist ethnicist organisation with a track record of killing millions of people and has no credibility to bring about democracy or any sort of reform. these concepts are contradictory to the nature of the organisation.

  7. Dawi
    | #7

    Alem said:

    [..Never mind the error in judgment of comparing Ethiopia to the Soviet Union and to China. Desta seems to have not learned a bit in over 40 years and is ready to repeat the same mistake..]

    And 3 lines after saying the above, Alem complains Desta “deliberately” hid Stalin/Mao atrocities from him in the following?

    [..Desta [deliberately] fails to tell us that both Stalin and Mao used mass arrests, kidnappings, purges, murders, and internment to decimate all opposition and to consolidate their power [sound familiar?]..]

    What does Alem really want is the question?

    It is like Damned if you do, damned if you don’t! For Alem, Desta is screwed either way. What does a man has to do to make Alem happy? The bottom line is however, trying to make everybody happy is a road to nowhere.

    Prof. Desta is saying what many opposition had said in the past; it seems rather timely to talk about it now because of the Oromo state wide protest. When many of it’s ethnic elites who claim to lead the protest, are only talking more of their tribal boundaries by dismissing Ethiopian nationalism all together. That has become very alarming in all aspects to Ethiopian nationalists at this juncture. So there is nothing wrong for him pointing out that truth be told.

    He is saying Article 39 was jammed in the constitution “as a tactical selling point to lure members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) into remaining participants in the Ethiopian political union” in the first place. Other groups didn’t ask for it to begin with; he pointed out others went along with it because they “were infatuated with Lenin’s concept of the “National Question” in the late 1960s “. Therefore, he recommends “Now it is worthy that the Ethiopian Parliament..deliberate on the relevance of Article 39 in the Ethiopian society”. I don’t see anything wrong with that suggestion.

    He also points out the negatives of the federation point blank as in the following:

    *In every election, the opposition political parties in Ethiopia have complained of harassment and intimidation.

    *proclamation of democratic rhetoric has not been matched by democratic practice.

    *Ethiopian type of Federalism has allowed new ethnic elites to emerge but has not fundamentally altered the principle of the elite-based paternalistic politics of the past.

    *During the last election in 2015, some of the federal members of parliament were never endorsed by their constituents and never went to their local areas to present their agendas for the future.

    *Ethiopians are being denied their basic rights. Democracy entails abiding by a system of rule by laws, and not by individuals or parties.

    And finally he said:

    *”If the EPRDF doesn’t stimulate other parties to reorganize and compete against it, it is very likely that the EPRDF Party will lose its early dynamism and it then resort to authoritarianism its stay in power.”

    What he is giving is a concrete suggestion for the government to be back in track with “DDS” and avoid turning “Dictatorial”; That is what is needed for a learned man to do; giving alternative solutions to our complicated problems. May be we should all try that for a change.

  8. Buffa
    | #8

    The operatives of the TPLF including professor Desta Asayehegn talk about the illusion of stability but they should now that their TPLF boat is in distress and will sink soon.

  9. Alem
    | #9

    Dawi, Thanks for helping us understand what is in the mind of Professor Desta. You are like the student who rushes to answer before hearing the question. I suggest you re-read my comments about the Professor comapring Ethiopia to the Soviet Union. Stop reading into comments. This is the last time I will be telling you this :) The professor is saying “member states never acted to secede or separate from the Soviet Union during its tenure” though right of self-determination was in the constitution [so Oromo and other groups should do the same?]. The professor says that is the history of the Soviets. Now listen carefully. Professor Desta failed to tell us the rest of the story; that violence was used to incorporate the Soviet republics as well as to keep them together.

    I know you are a smart fellow. At least you are smart enough to read selectively and interject new and invented items into a discussion. So I suggest you study three articles each by Professors Desta [Tecola, Araia, Kiros] for 2005-06, 2010-12, and 2015-16 and help us understand why each continued to take positions that stood against reality on the ground [following major challenges to Tplf rule] and in violation of standards of research and scholarship.

    “Dawi,” Please keep your comments coming so readers will know how you function.

    Abugida Editor, I find it strange that Dawi could respond before my comment was even published.

  10. aha!
    | #10

    The only thing commendable about your article is the extensive literature review in favor of the ideology of ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalitarianism and/or state capitalism, supported by crony capitalism by TPLF/Political, TPLF/EFFORT, TPLF affiliated enterprises and foreign corporation engaged in the democratization process in Ethiopia. What you concluded based on your literature review as per the above mentioned ideology built into the constitution and in the context of the current uprising against the expansion of Addis Abeba City Government into the surrounding towns of Oromia/Oromo Killil Astedader”.

    Your concluding proposals and/or criticism in connection with the uprising/protests albeit peaceful protests are:
    1) democratization process will be hampered under the current situation, when what prevailed to date was a supper imposition of democracy over ethnic-rule/ethnic dictatorship, minority now and majority in the future,
    2) when dealing with the ratification of the constitution you only want to do away with art. 39 (1), when art. 46, a division of Ethiopian land mass that belong to all Ethiopians to be divided by “settlement, languages and (ethnic) identity”, which sets precedence to ethnic secessionism, ethnic cleansing, future boundary conflicts, etc. remains in tact.
    3) you also suggested since the government (TPLF/eprdf regime) decided to scrap the Master Plan, a derivative of the Grand Master Plan, the constitution, in the same manner as the Anti-terrorism Law to be scrapped as well, you hinted that it calls for a political dialogue … as remedy with out holding the government accountable for its human rights violations. It has been evident from media communication that are ongoing building constructions in those towns less infrastructural development and manufacturing industries, I presume.

    5)You also failed to realize the democratization process could only achieved when individual freedom, liberty and equality super cedes ethnic and secessionist rights (both) along with property ownership of land anywhere in Ethiopia as bases for democracy by ratifying the constitution with respect to art. 2, the flag, art. 46 ethnic federalism, by reverting to the original provinces of federated states, under the ideology of Ethiopian Nationalism: Ethiopia as one nation states of multi-ethnic groups (80) with individual freedom front and center of the constitution, with independent branches of the Government and party alignments along the national agenda, rather than ethnic agenda and developing the inter-related languages and cultures in hyper space and developing human and natural resources by ecological regions as the pragmatic solutions.

  11. aha!
    | #11

    Please include art. 40 (3) to totalitarianism to private ownership of land anywhere in Ethiopia.

  12. Kadiro
    | #12

    I think elites who have access to TPLF leaders cannot save TPLF-led regime by trying to convince us that there will be some democratic order we can get from the regime via reform. TPLF-led regime cannot be reformed. They blew their chances for reforms a number of times.The most opportune moment for reform was during 2005 elections.

    The best advice the friends of TPLF leaders give them should include:

    * Stop killing innocent Oromos
    * Stop instigating ethnic conflicts: Amaras vs. Oromos; Amaras vs. Qimant; Oromos vs Ethiopian Somalis, etc. for shortsighted political gains.
    * Stop giving our land to Sudan
    * Stop evicting poor farmers
    * Stop evicting poor people from the center of Addis Ababa, etc.

    Then and only then, the friends of TPLF will contribute towards saving Ethiopia and our people’s peaceful coexistence. Enough crimes are already committed by TPLF-led regime. High time they stop committing more crimes against Ethiopia and its people.

  13. Anon
    | #13

    Ethiopians have chased colonel Mengistu and his communist ideology in 1993.Though TPLF was an avowed Albanian communist, I remember the day when they were being asked by U.S journalists whether they are communists or not. And thy responded they have renounced their communism jargon. They say they are for free market. The truth of the matter is TPLF can not extricate itself from the situation she is in. The general public is way ahead and clearly know what they want than the estimation uneducated, arrogant, corrupt and racist TPLF politicians. I have this question to the professor. Is it not true the main concern of this article has to do with dividing Ethiopian coalition against the regime? Why do you fail to mention about the TPLF misrule example, exploitation of public wealth, killing rampage, sailing our country to foreigners? Twenty years latter what does it mean for you in this forum, a forum dedicated for the promotion of democratic ideals, to attempt to lecture us about TPLF democracy. What a waist of our time on your part to lecture us about what you call “the status of democracy”. How can one find himself in such position as you are. Are you being willfully ignorant or a blindness caused by self interest?

  14. batte
    | #14

    the ethnic federalism this, Desta guy is ranting about is in real terms, ethnic segregation,paraphrased as ethnic federalism to make it sound like acceptable to the unsuspecting public who may not be aware of the agenda of tplf looters and thugs.

    what tplf has created in Ethiopia is ethnic segregation. By implication , ethnic segregation has created ethnic enclaves and has shifted the attention of people to focus more on their ethnicity than regarding themselves as belonging to one country Ethiopia. the ethnic segregation tplf has imposed on our country has resulted in the death and displacement/eviction of millions of Ethiopians from areas where they have lived for generations.

    the disjointed protests in various regions of the country that tplf have so far managed to silence have not been able to be translated to capturing the participation of all the people of Ethiopia is partly due to the ethnic fragmentation and segregation of the country and although the issues raised affect all Ethiopians, thy are seen as local issues applicable to one group only. Added to that, ethno centric fascist forces use the protests as a staging post for promoting seccesionist ideology further alienating other groups from joining te protest.

    Desta is one other wolf in sheeps clothing, a pseudo intellectual, trying to sow the seed of confusion among the unsuspecting and to give credibility to the bankrupt ethno fascist tplf.

    whether you take out Article 39 or 99 does not make a difference, as Desta wants us to believe. the whole rotten system created by a fascist ethnic group has to be removed once and for all.

  15. aha!
    | #15

    haile@36, that is why you have to frame the regime in terms of political model as TPLF/eprdf, where eprdf in small caps represent the “teletafi” parties and TPLF as the Politburo ruling Ethiopia, supported directly by security, federal police and Agazi forces, and killil administrators and implicitly supported by the loyalist opposition parties, which formed “Medrek” to create a bi-cameral chamber of parliament with the TPLF/eprdf regime in the 2010 election and thereafter.

  16. Dawi
    | #16

    Alem said:

    [[..Professor Desta failed to tell us the rest of the story; that violence was used to incorporate the Soviet republics as well as to keep them together…]]

    I guarantee you even he did tell that story, you still would come up with something else? :)

    Let us say he tells us that story, I assure you again, it is going to pale compared to when capitalism first came into our neck of the woods here in the USA; A stage of history dripping blood from every pore. The origin of the capitalist system is the systematic expropriation of the property of the Native American. In Europe the peasants, the Scottish clans and the peoples of the enslaved colonies, the history “is written in the annals of mankind in letters of blood and fire”.

    So much for that then; So, what is the point? We can compare and contrast all day long if you like?

    You also said:

    [[..help us understand why each continued to take positions that stood against reality on the ground [following major challenges to Tplf rule]..]]

    Dear Alem,

    You may have some purpose of believing in conspiracies.
    The reason I say that because you just questioned Abugida Editor that “you find it strange that Dawi could respond before my comment was even published.” It is very amusing!

    Psychologist describe belief in conspiracies as manifestations of ‘paranoia’, ‘anxiety’, ‘fantasy’, ‘hysteria’ and ‘projection’, or as fulfilling a profound psychological need for certainty in the precarious (post-)modern age. :)

    I suggest you check the above out and call me in the morning. :-)

  17. Dawi
    | #17

    more on Alem’s diatribe:

    [[.. So I suggest you study three articles each by Professors Desta [Tecola, Araia, Kiros] for 2005-06, 2010-12, and 2015-16 and help us understand …..[following major challenges to Tplf rule] and in violation of standards of research and scholarship…]]

    What violation of standards are you talking about?

    Let me start with his question of ABUGIDA Posts showing up late on Alem’s desk top? It can just be the kind of platform he has and may have some issues that day; so chances are it is not a “conspiracy” against you. :-)

    I hope your unwarranted comment didn’t scare ABUGIDA to go back to their “slow motion” style of updating our posts. They were doing fine until you complained. :)

    In the same spirit, there is no reason for me to study the posts of the people you mentioned because the opinions they put out is going to be consistent with their world view of the politics of that country. If you are seeing write ups you don’t like “following major challenges of TPLF rule”, it is just because that is when all serious people participate giving out their views. Case in point, Yelma, Prof. Al, Prof. Messay cranked out several posts reflecting their typical world views during the present protest in Oromia. Their politics is more or less the same.

    The irony is on Oromia issue, this is the single write up from Prof. Desta, I thnk it there was one from Kiros and haven’t hear anything from Tecola (hope he is doing fine) & don’t remember Araya’s latest?

    So you should be ashamed of your self for singling them out and attacking them.

  18. aha!
    | #18

    It is now apparent from literature review that the constitution not only embraced totalitarianism as in art. 40 (3) as carry over from the Derg Military Dictatorship, but also emulated the USSSR with its already established regions as equivalent to the newly demarcated ethnic boundaries by “settlement, languages and (ethnic) identity” in direct contrast to Ethiopian Nationalism with Ethiopia as a one nation state with multi-ethnic groups (80) maintaining the goals for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, where the basic struggle was for land reform and workers rights. This by itself establishes individual freedom, liberty and equality as precedence to liberal and/or social democracy in a free market and/or mixed economy, different from the existing ideology(ies) built into the constitution.
    Not only that the constitution emulates USSR, but also hinges on the TPLF Manifesto of campaign against the Amhara ethnic group and the manifesto that says “leoromow killilih yih new bilen kesetenew lela minim ayfeligim”, which came to haunt TPLF with current uprising of the Oromo student movements over the Master Plan, a derivative of the Grand Master Plan, the constitution.

    The precedence set by ethnic federalism: ethnic secessionism, future boundary conflicts and an ongoing ethnic cleansing would have been averted if federated states were reestablished based on the original provinces in people than ethnic-oriented government of minority or majority ethnic group. The ex appropriation of urban and rural areas as it relates to private ownership of land will be in the hands of the independent branches of the Government based on national than ethnic agenda.

  19. Dawi
    | #19

    aha said:

    [[..It is now apparent from literature review that the constitution not only embraced totalitarianism as in art. 40 (3) as carry over from the Derg Military Dictatorship, but also emulated the USSR..]]

    “Ethnic Federation” on territories that more or less corresponds the prevailing spoken languages by ethnic groups of Ethiopians was chosen. However, former provinces followed more or less similar patterns.

    For the left (communists?) then, choosing such “ethnic federation” as opposed to “US melting pot” type, was preferred. Lenin’s Bolshevik democratic slogan of the right to self-determination including independence was adapted. If you remember per former President Negasso Gidada, “socialism” is what inspired him to join EPRDF.

    As Lenin proclaimed the federation of nations as the correct solution and compatible with state centralism in USSR, EPRDF did the same thing in the beginning.

    So what seems “apparent” to you today, was always there.

    Theoretically, voluntary and equalitarian federation in order to draw together more closely and honestly is fair & democratic; sometimes it may even be necessary first to separate like with EPLF. That is as opposed to military and bureaucratic strangulation of people.

    You see then managing a “national question” is not for the faint hearted.

  20. aha!
    | #20

    Thank Dawi @# for reiterating on the central focus, the constitution as stated above. Even at the USSR constitution reflects the existing states, while the Ethiopian constitution was on the newly defined ethnic enclaves/boundaries, which served as prelude to ethnic secessionism, ethnic cleansing etc. and Dr. Negasso Gidada’s proposal of a constitution in terms of consociational democracy is a redress of that same constitution, and in direct contrast to a constitution based on Ethiopian Nationalism of Ethiopia as a one Nation State of multi-ethnic groups, leaving harmoniously together for millennials, while letting the ethnic groups develop their languages and cultures in the hyperspace and developing the natural resources and the populations according to ecological regions. The democratization process is based on individual rights including private ownership of land and business anywhere in Ethiopia super ceding ethnic and secessionist rights of assorted ethnic groups of the original provinces, with freedom of assembly to form civic organizations, freedom of the press and freedom to conduct peaceful protest, in an independent branches of government and people than ethnic oriented government, which governs by the consent of the governed with no monopoly on Ethiopian land mass and Media Communications, but an eminent domain and care taker government of the populations and the natural resources reflected in a new constitution.

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