The Perils of Ethnic Federalism Part II: Defenders of the Killils By Worku Aberra (PhD)

February 5th, 2016 Print Print Email Email

In the previous installment, I discussed the inherent dangers of ethnic politics. In this section, I will outline the arguments that the defenders of the killils make, and hint at reforming ethnic federalism.

The TPLF and the other ethnic nationalists hail the creation of ethnic federalism as the greatest achievement of the struggle against the Derg. I respectfully disagree. It was actually the worst blunder the TPLF-EPRDF regime made in 1994. Ethnic federalism, its architects argue, designed to address the ethnic injustices of the past, would bring about ethnic equality, unity, and harmony; as well as social peace, but it has not delivered the Promised Land. On the contrary, it has worsened inter-ethnic group relationships. The on-going armed conflict between the Annuaks and the Nuers in Gambella and between the Konso and the Burji in the south, the uprising in Oromia, and the turmoil throughout Ethiopia indicate that it has been an abject failure.

But, what is ethnic federalism? The definition of the term “federalism” has evolved over time, and currently there is no universally accepted definition. A scholar who has studied federalism defines it as “a system of government based on the sharing of powers by two levels of governments with equal status”. (p.19). Theoretically then, under ethnic federalism, the federal government and the local ethnic governments share powers. For example, the federal government is responsible for defense, internal peace and security, and foreign affairs, and the local ethnic governments are responsible for the provision of essential services such as education and healthcare. There are other details, but this in brief is the broad outline of ethnic federalism.

As I have argued in the previous section, ethnic politics created ethnic federalism; ethnic federalism was launched to serve the political interests of the OLF, the EPLF, and the TPLF. The demands of ethnic nationalists for ethnic homelands, the EPLF’s strategic objective for a destabilized Ethiopia, and the TPLF’s aspiration to stay in power through divide and conquer produced ethnic federalism.

Ethiopia’s federal state is federalism in appearance only, draped in ethnic costumes but buttressed by brutal force. The ethnic states, other than language rights, have limited powers. As a result, Ethiopia has become a United Nation of ethnic states, which manifest varying degrees of commitment to national unity, overseen by a dictator. When the dictator goes, they too may go their separate ways, as happened in the former Yugoslavia, unless Ethiopia establishes a geographically-based federal state that fully expresses the democratic wishes of all ethnic groups.

The difference between a geographically-based federalism and an ethnic-based federalism is functionality. The first acts as a means of sharing powers, the latter serves as the agency for dividing Ethiopians, readying the ethnic states for possible separation, and keeping the regime in power indefinitely.

Defending the Killils

Proponents of the killils have not persuasively argued why ethnic-based federalism is better than geographically-based federalism. Instead, many use fallacious arguments to defend it. Some argue that those who oppose ethnic federalism, especially the Amhara elite, favour a unitary state, hopelessly wishing for the return of Amhara rule. This is a red herring. It is not just Amharas who oppose ethnic federalism. Many Ethiopians, including prominent Oromo intellectuals, oppose it. By invoking the real or imagined “Amhara injustices” of the past, killil supporters strive to stifle the discussion on the issue. But the defence of the killils should be based on facts and logic, not on intimidation, emotional blackmail, or ad hominem attacks that generate much heat but produce little insight.

The argument that says that the choice facing Ethiopia is between ethnic federalism and a unitary state is a false dichotomy; it assumes that a unitary state is the only alternative to ethnic federalism, yet there are other forms of federalism that confer real powers to ethnic groups.

Unless we accept ethnic federalism, some killil defenders suggest that the dissatisfied ethnic groups will separate, as Eritrea did. There are a few problems with this argument. First, separation is not the only alternative to ethnic federalism, as stated earlier. Second, we must remember that for a dedicated separatist, ethnic federalism is not the end game; it is only the first crucial step towards nationhood. We can never please separatists.

The threat to secede assumes that secession will benefit the ethnic group that secedes and hurts the ethnic groups that remain united. This is an erroneous assumption. Separation does not necessarily bring about freedom, democracy, and prosperity to the new ethnic country, as the distressing experience of Eritrea shows. Separation harms all Ethiopians. Unity benefits all Ethiopians, economically and politically.
Economically, a larger country provides economic diversity, promotes economic efficiency, and enables the realization of economies of scale. Politically, it encompasses a larger political space and hence a potentially higher level of tolerance for different political views to flourish. It also creates a potentially wider coalition in the struggle for justice, equality, and democracy. It is much easier for a dictator to prevail in a small country. National unity, therefore, should not be the nervous preoccupation of only one ethnic group, but rather the conscientious concern of all ethnic groups.

Looking Forward

I accept the basic tenets of a federal state, but I reject ethnic-based federalism because of its negative social, economic, and political consequences. As in all federal states throughout the world, Ethiopia should adopt a geographically-based federalism. But after 25 years of ethnic federalism, after so much emotional investment in the killils, it may be politically impossible to dismantle ethnic federalism, without much bloodshed, but it can be reformed, along regional lines with geographic designations.
For example, the existing awarajas or zones can be consolidated into regions to form larger states that recognize the rights of both the dominant and minority ethnic groups. The division of powers between the federal and local governments should be clearly delineated and legally sanctioned. Federal institutions must serve the national interests of all Ethiopians. The constitution must be thoroughly revised to reflect the democratic wishes of the Ethiopian people. Article 39 should be struck out. And so on.

Solidarity with the Oromo People

I have argued that ethnic federalism is inimical to national unity, but opposing ethnic federalism is not opposing the struggle of the Oromo people or other ethnic groups to pursue their democratic aspirations. I support the struggle of the Oromo people against injustice, inequality, and repression, within a united Ethiopia. I condemn the killings of the demonstrators by security forces in Oromia.

Further, since the Oromos are a plurality in Ethiopia, I believe that Ethiopia should seriously consider making Afar Oromo an official language, along with Amharic. Ethiopia can become, like Canada, an officially bilingual country, with Amharic and Afan Oromo as the official languages of the federal government so that the Oromo people can have equal access to employment opportunities in the federal bureaucracy and so that the Oromo people will be served in Afan Oromo when receiving services from the federal government. Oromos must feel at home in their own country. I am not suggesting that all Ethiopians be forced to learn Afan Oromo, only that federal government officials and employees be fluent in one of the official languages and be functionally literate in the other language, as is the case in Canada.

Ethiopia, a multi-ethnic and geographically diverse country, must adopt a geographically-based federalism where the dominant ethnic group in each state exercises autonomy, while respecting the rights of minority groups, within a democratic and united Ethiopia.
Worku Aberra (PhD) is a professor of economics at Dawson College, Montreal, Canada.

  1. Dany
    | #1

    ኦሮሚኛ ቁዋንቁዋ official language ቢሆን ለመቃወም ሳይሆን ,official language በየትኛውም ክልል ከክልሉ ቁንቁዋ ጋር እኩል ተቀባይነት ሊኖረው ይገባል ይህም ሲባል በፍርድ ቤቶች,በትምህርት ቤቶች,በመንግስታዊ መስሪያ ቤቶች ,በክልሉ ምክር ቤቶችና በመሳሰሉት ጥቅም ላይ ሊውል ይገባል .
    በካናዳም ከዚህ የተለየ አይመስለኝም.
    በኦሮሚያ ክልል የሚታየው ግን የዚህ ተቃራኒ ነው, ኦሮሚኛን የማይናገር የመመረጥ መብቱ ይተገፈፈ ነው ,ፍርድ ቤቶች ,የመንግስት መስሪያ ቤቶች , ትምህርት ቤቶች ,የክልል እና ይዞን ምከር ቤቶች, ቀበሌዎች እና ማንኛውም የመግስት መስሪያ ቤቶች የሚሰሩት በኦሮሚኛ ነው .
    የፈዴራል ቁዋንቁዋ ማወቅ ምንም አይነት የዜግነት መብትን ለመንፈጊያ ካልሆነ በስተቀር ሊያሰጥ አይችልም.
    በኦሮሚያ ደግሞ በተለይም በከተማ አካባቢ ከኦሮሚኛ ይለቅ አማሪኛ የበለጠ የሚነገርበት ቦታዎች እንዳሉ የምናውቀው ነው ,አዳማን ለምሳሌ መውሰድ ይቻላል.
    ይህ አሰራር ደግሞ ከኢትዮጵያ ዉጭ በሌላ አለም ያለ አይመስለኝም.
    ኦሮሚኛ ሁለተኛ ብሄራዊ ቁዋንቁዋ ይሁን ስንል በተመሳሳይ መልክ ሌላው ብሄራዊ ቁዋንቁዋ በክልሉ ከኦሮሚኛ እኩል ስራ ላይ መዋል እንዳለበት ማጤን ይገባናል .
    ይህ ካልሆነ ብሄራዊ ትሥስር አይኖርም አንድ ሀገር መገንባት ሳሆን ጥቃቅን ሀገሮችን መፍጠር ነው የሚሆነው.
    ዛሬ እንደምንታዘበው አንድ የኦሮሞ ወጣት ኮሌጅ ምሩቅ የፌዴራልን ቁውንቁዋ እንዳያውቅ በጎሳ ፖለቲካ መሪዎች በተደረገበት ግፊት ቁዋንቁዋን በቅጡ ባለማውቁ በስራ ገበያ ላይ ትልቅ ተጽእኖ እየደረሰበት ይገኛል.
    መሪ ነን ብዮቹ ግን በፈደራሉ ቁዋንቁዋ ቅኔ ከመቃኝት አልፈው መጽሀፍ በአማሪኛ እይሳተሙ ንግዳቸውን ያፋፍማሉ .

  2. Oromo
    | #2

    Don’t wast ur time you better face the reality on the ground FYI go and tell people Oromia, Ogaden,Gambellaa, Southern Pary and Tigray then you will see what you face

  3. Adam
    | #3

    Dr worku,
    That is a very nicely writen article.
    You are write a geo-based federalism is better. Otherwise addis ababa or any city can never expand or develop for fear of tresspassing these bantustan tribal states

    But i disagree with you about eritrea because it is not an ethnic state like tigray, oromia etc.
    Eritrea itself is multiethnic. Ethnic secession will never work, especailly because no tribe lived on the land for thousands of ears as we are all immigrants. For example, gurage lived northern but they are now debub and oromo moved to shewa only 400 years ago. Ogaden also settled on other clan territory
    The current boundaries are wrong
    Its better to create geo-federalism

  4. kebede
    | #4

    Dr Worku, with due respect, it is wrong to suggest that tplf fought against the Derg to create ethnic federalism. this is WRONG assertion.Tplf in the first place is not establlished as an Ethiopian liberation front. it is a tigre people liberation front fighting to liberate tigre and to set up a tigre republic.
    If we start from the wrong assertion our conclusion and analysis of tplf won’t be right.

    Their political programme is entirely written for their tigre republic – dig out and read their manifesto- it mentions Ethiopia as an enemy.

    Sebehat Nega, the archtect of tplf was saying, even when he is now enjoying all the comforts Ethiopia can give him still laments that Ethiopia is his enemy. ps read the following extract..

    sebehat nega said, “We fought for Eritrean independence from the colonial rule of Ethiopia. Even now, if Eritrea is attacked, EPRDF would jump into Eritrea, join the Eritrean people and engage the ENEMY.
    You will find this on the following website-

    Tplf ended up in Addis abeba not because they intended and planned it, but because it was an opportunistic moment for them as soon as they realised that there was no one to protect Ethiopia. the Derg has fled.

    these are the tplf people that we are dealing with, ruthless die hard fascists who regard the country that fed and reared them as their enemy, and who are intent on destroying it.
    so don’t tell me that tplf have any thing good for Ethiopia. these people are sons and grandsons of ”bandas” who were mussolini’s servants.

    The so called ethnic federalism is Tplf’s plan against its enemy , Ethiopia, a plan which is conceived and hatched in hell, to divide and rule and to destroy the country, which it calls its enemy. Mussolini used similar tactics to perpetuate his fascist rule. the grand sons of the bandas copying the tactic of Mussolini is not surprising.
    the so called ‘eprdf’ was set up the lend credibility to tplf. Tplf realised that it cannot stay in power in Ethiopia as a tigre people liberation front, so it created Eprdf, with the E at the front to make itself appear as Ethiopian.
    America and Britain are part of this plan against Ethiopia when they gathered together tplf, olf and shabia in the so called London conference in 1990.

    so if the enemy is occupying your country what do you expect. It is not allegation, it is not a rumor it is a fact that Tplf see Ethiopia as an enemy. that is why tplf are looting, raping the country with their international collaborators whom they call investors, evicting and displacing the population from the land, and selling and giving away Ethiopia’s land to their friends.

    Ethnic federalism, designed by vowed Ethiopia’s enemies can not be good. It is ethnic segregation coated with colourful words to make it sound like acceptable.

    we have gone through genocide, mass evictions of population, displacements and we have even been issued with identity cards displaying our ethnic identities.
    certain groups of people are facing discrimination and threats because their id cards show that they belong to the wrong ethnic group. that is why the ID card was designed for.
    Perhaps if you start looking at tplf from this perspective , you will be able to write a different story.

  5. Dawi
    | #5

    Dr. Worku said:

    [[.. I reject ethnic-based federalism because of its negative .....consequences. As in all federal states throughout the world, Ethiopia should adopt a geographically-based federalism...]

    What do you mean by in all? India, Canada and Switzerland are not exactly geographical based.

    What ever scheme federal/unitary won’t guarantee you a solution to an existing multi cultural based problems. It just gives you a frame work to tackle the problem. As other African countries we don’t have a well industrialized and majority literate people where the working class plays a major role in the society.

    If you don’t have a developed class conscious society, you are only playing hocus pocus on tribal conscious individuals as Dr. Maimire’s “ethnic essentialism” or “the fetish is “our” ethnie” or some other “voodoo” (geographical scheme) to change the society. It is not going to work by looking at comparative countries.

    Even if you switch the federal system to “geographical” as you are suggesting there is no guarantee of stopping a fight of one group wanting to join the other geographical entity as in (Kemant/Wolkait) etc. so, valuable time would be wasted trying to switch from one scheme to another for nothing possibly bringing a new authoritarian government as Prof. Messay indicated in the process. The bottom line, “ethnicity” can not be wished away. Development is the key.

    What we have now is working more or less fine except for OLF and ONLF; because they are the only once who want the constitution to be implemented to the letter nothing more.

    Let us not fool ourselves, OLF/ONLF are saying they love what they see/have already but, it is not deep enough. They want to be granted full autonomy. And it is in the hands of EPRDF to accept that.

  6. Tola
    | #6

    Nice try. But it is an outdated idea that died with Ato Alkilu Habtewold, who could do anything for he was a the TOP. The irony is that you (and all newcomers – metie – to Oromia) from your lowest position cannot stop the wheel of history from reveling truth and bringing development. Death to Neftegnaism and Chauvenism!! Success, prosperity and blessings to the equality of all nations, nationalities, tribes, or what have you that are constituents of Ethiopia!!

  7. Kebede
    | #7


    You call Maimire’s article “voodoo analysis”. I agree with you. He makes no contribution. It is all gibberish. It is intellectual masturbation. Worku makes two specific suggestions. He wants Oromo official language and geography based federalism. Now, you can disagree with him. He made concrete proposals. I think you are wrong. In Canada, India, and Switzerland, they don’t’ have ethnic names for the provinces or states.

  8. Sam
    | #8

    Does Ethiopia need another official language? I am not sure about that. In fact, by suggesting Afan Oromo should become a second Ethiopian official language, the writer undermines his own premise– ethnic federalism is bad for the country. Not only bad, but also it is the very cause of continuing mistrust between ethnicities. In Oromia, the regional government functions in its own language. Children have been taught with Afan Oromo. Courts operate in Afan Oromo. Just could anybody tell me why the Oromos need their language being chosen as an official language? Because they are plurality said the writer of the article. What a lame argument!

  9. G. Mequanent
    | #9

    The democratic and popular EPRDf governemnt has put in Place a modern and progressive federal system in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian federal system is among the unique ones and has set the country on a path of fast economic growth and transformation. However, the Amhara elite are still dreaming about reimposing their primitive and oppressive rule in the country. This will never happen and the Amhara elite must leave their world of halicination.

  10. JOHN
    | #10

    Do not worry to write so much of part-3 or part-4.
    Our intellectuals do please wake up even after 25 years.
    Ethnic politics is just the symptom.
    The main cause is as follows.
    TPLF Is a Zionist agent. The entire social, cultural, economical, and political and finally the spiritual architecture is designed and organized that way. Infiltration, perversion, deception, bribe, blackmail are the main tools to carry out this diabolical scheme. EPRDF is a cover for TPLF. Likewise TPLF is a cover. TPLF at the core is a Zionist agent. Only very few adepts are privy to this diabolical scheme. Ethiopians now tend to understand the general situation in Ethiopia this way.Ethinc politics is just a means to this end.As for addis ababa and oromia case the cause is Ethnic federalism.This is the big picture and we are all pawns in this big game.Addis Abababa master plan is intended to gradually evict non-Tigreans.It is a systematic ethnic cleansing.Greater Ethiopia has gradually diminished and changed in to greater Addis Ababa which is the result of thnic federalism.Ethnic federalism works for TPLF but does not work for Ethiopians.Do not worry to please every body but try to speak the truth and only the truth.

  11. MIKY
    | #11

    Compare and contrast Ethiopia yesterday and today.

    Ethiopia yesterday:

    “… that until the philosophy which holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited and abandoned; that until there are no longer first-class and second-class citizens of any nation; that until the color of a man’s skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes; that until the basic human rights are equally guaranteed to all without regard to race; that until that day, the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained.”


    Ethiopia today:


  12. Dilwenberu
    | #12

    The federal political system of the EPRDF reflects the will of the peoples of Ethiopia. The opposition and misgivings of the Amhara elite regarding the EPRDF and federalism are empty bravados. The Amhara elite are the losers and have to give up their dream of taking back the county to their dark era of repression and exploitation. Ethiopians are enjoying democracy and prosperity under the wise and visionary leadership of the EPRDF.

  13. Dawi
    | #13


    The Southern state of Ethiopian don’t have ethnic name either. So ours can be considered mixed as well. I don’t disagree with the language suggestion; there are discussions within Ethiopia making Afan Oromos a national language as well.

    “..Two of the world’s oldest federal states, Canada and Switzerland, effectively give self-government to their principal ethnic, linguistic or national communities. More recently, Belgium has reorganized itself as an ethnic federation, and Spain has also assumed several multi-ethnic federal traits. Most notably, India, the postcolonial world’s most successful democracy, and the world’s largest, is also an “ethnofederal” state. “

    “..Classical federation was seldom based on ethnicity despite the partial exception of Canada and Switzerland – autonomy on the other hand has often been based on ethnicity…” Practicing Self Government by Yash Ghai

  14. aha!
    | #14

    I agree with your concluding remark in part that states that “ethnic -based federalism be replaced with geographic-based federalism”. The latter looks like classifying ethnic groups by geographical/ecological regions, which is more appropriate for human and natural resources developments than creating states/nations. And that change comes by ratifying the constitutions with the ideologies of ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalitarianism and/or state capitalism built into it and by resorting to the original provinces with assorted ethnic groups living in each of those provinces harmoniously together and developing their cultures and languages in the hyperspace in a liberal and/or social democracy. I previously suggested using ecologically based regions for human and natural resources developments as the Ommo Valley, the Rift Valley, the sub-humid, the altitude temperate highlands of central and south eastern highlands to cut across states, with individual freedom, liberty and equality to super cede ethnic and secessionists rights supported by private ownership of land anywhere in Ethiopia as precursor to free market capitalism and liberal and/or social democracy. It also helps to create people-oriented the current ethnic-oriented government aligned in terms of political models as TPLF/eordf, where TPLF is the Politburo ruling the country with direct support of the teletafi parities, security and agazi and federal police forces, killil administrators and crony capitalism such as TPLF/Political, TPLF/EFFORT, TPLF affiliated enterprises and foreign corporations particularly in terms of land leases. Then there are parties of the loyalist opposition parties which formed a coalition with Tigrai Hrena, with previous loyalist ethnic-based parties forming a coalition as OPDO/EFDF/Medrek/fdre as mirror images of the TPLF/eprdf regime by implicitly supporting the constitution of ethnic federalism, which is a prelude to ethnic secessionism/nationalism, at the pretext of self-rule and self-determination in favor ethnic secessionism patterned after the USSR constitution and totalitarianism as a carry over from the Der regime with the promise to undertake the democratization process in Ethiopia since 1991, which is “anything but democratic” to date. It has been ruled under minority ethnic dictatorship with majority ethnic dictatorship, if the ethnic-based federalism continue to gain momentum by undermining Ethiopian Nationalism of Ethiopia as one nation state like any democratic nations with multi-ethnic groups living harmoniously together in the original provinces before the implant of ethnic and secessionist politics was introduced and placed as the frame work of the constitution by ex-liberation fronts who fought the previous regimes against oppression of nations and nationalities, by dividing Ethiopian land mass by “settlement, languages and (ethnic ) identity”; rather the class struggle for land reform and workers rights.

  15. Mezmur
    | #15

    The motive behind the implementation of ethnic federalism and ethnicization of politics by the TPLF and its like minded groups is to curve out their own parts
    to be groomed for their future statehoods. The origin of the so called ethnic regions with some exceptions is the brief Italian colonial administration in Ethiopia. The fathers of the TPLF leaders had served this colonial power and the TPLF leaders use the fascist Italian divide and rule model as their political flagship. The late TPLF leader Meles Zenawi had scolded the anti-colonial struggle as the fight against civilization.

  16. Dawi
    | #16

    Mezmur said:

    [[.. The origin of the so called ethnic regions with some exceptions is the brief Italian colonial administration in Ethiopia. ...]]

    I learned something interesting listening to Dr. Tsegaye Arasa the other day on ESAT; he mentioned that the Oromo language was used in the region as a working language during “the brief Italian colonial administration” however, was repealed in 1941 by HIM government.

    So it doesn’t help our cause when you mix apples and oranges as you’re doing.

    Can you tell us how Meles scolded the anti-colonial struggle in a “contest”? I have a feeling within a contest it won’t be different from Dr. Tsegaye’s statement above?

  17. Freedom
    | #17

    Dr. Aberra,

    Thank you very much for your efforts to come up with a solution to a very difficult problem we are facing.

    You said, “Ethnic federalism was launched to serve the political interest of OLF, EPLF and TPLF.”


    Therefore, Ethnic federalism was not launched to serve the interests of the Amhara, Gambela, Sidama, Afar, Somali and the many other smaller ethnic groups. These ethnic groups were utterly and completely ignored, abandoned and usurped. Consequently, since Ethnic federalism was not created to serve the interest of the vast majority of Ethiopians, it should be annihilated completely. NO MORE ETHNIC FEDERALISM. IT IS FAKE, FARCE AND DECEPTION OF THE HIGHEST MAGNITUDE.

    You said,
    “Since the Oromos are a plurality in Ethiopia, I believe that Ethiopia should seriously consider making Afan Oromo an official language along with Amharic.”

    I am not sure what you mean by plurality. It is a confusing word. However, it does not make sense to have two Ethiopian languages as official languages. To me it makes more sense to have Amharic and English as official languages. As the saying goes, KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. No need to complicate life. After the criminal/terrorist EPRDF is destroyed, VERY SOON, there won’t be a need for an Amhara/Oromo/Tigray/Afar etc region.
    I envision having 6 regions: North, Northeast, Northwest, South, Southeast and Southwest. Every region will be composed of a variety of ethnic groups although in most one ethnic group may be more common. Each region will elect their own leaders. All regions will have to use Amharic and English in government and education. But can add a third language if the majority of the regions inhabitants so desire.
    Addis Abeba will continue to be the capital city and the seat of the federal government. As an independent city, residents of Addis will elect their own leaders.

    Lastly, unlike Afan Oroma or other Ethiopian languages, Amharic had been the official government language of Abyssinia from about the 13th century to the 19th century, about 600 years. After the creation of modern Ethiopia by Emperor Menelik starting in 1880s, by colonizing all Oromo regions, Ogaden and all the southern nations and nationalities, all the new regions south of Shewa started to be administered by the use of the Amharic language.
    Consequently, Amharic is a much more developed language than Afan Oromo. In addition, it has it own letters.
    I added English as an official language b/c it is the unofficial OFFICIAL language of the WORLD. If Ethiopia is to be a very developed nation with lots of innovation and invention, every Ethiopian need to read and write in English. IT IS A GLOBALIZED WORLD AFTER ALL. ALSO, INTERNET WHICH IS MOSTLY COMMUNICATED VIA ENGLISH RULES.

  18. Mezmur
    | #18

    During the brief fascist Italian colonial rule in Ethiopia the parts of Ethiopia where the Oromos live was included with the whole south. The Ogaden region was included with the then Italian Somaliland. The Italians had not designated any separate Oromo region. The Oromos in Shewa were included in the part they designated Amhara. One can see the similarity between the maps of the TPLF and Italian colinial rules below. It is obvious that the TPLF leaders have copied the colonial system and applied it as their own.
    “Mussolini’s “Legge Organica” or “Basic Law” or Charter and Constitution drawn for the conquered Ethiopia in June 1936 was an instrument of “divide et Impera” following Prochazka ‘s strategy of tribal dismemberment. According to Mussolini’s “Legge Organica” Ethiopia was divided into five tribal units:1. Governo dell’Eritrea (including Tigrai)

    2. Governo dell’ Amhara

    3. Governo dell’ Harar

    4. Governo dei Galla e Sidama

    5. Governo Della Somalia (capital Moqadisho, including Italian Somaliland, the Ethiopian Ogaden, southern lowlands of Bale, Sidamo and Boran.)

    To this was added the autonomous government of the Chartered city of Addis Ababa .with jurisdiction of the territories around extending to 60 kilometers.

  19. tabboy
    | #19

    No ethnic names should be attached to the regions. amhara region, oromo region ., tigre region etc is wrong classification as there are many other groups and ethnicities lumped into each region and does not represent them.

    oromo region does not mean that there is no other ethnic group in that region. the same with amhara or tigre or ogaden region. North, South, East, west, northeast is good enough. this will take us away from ethnic politics.

  20. haille
    | #20

    the so called oromia region, tigre, amhara, etc is a divisive agenda created by the devil himself. Tplf ,olf supported by their mentors and sponsors USA and UK in the so called London conference in 1991, decided without the consent of the Ethiopian people, that this is the way they will destroy Ethiopia. They rubber stamped the plan which Mussollini so many years after he died.

    What happens to Ethiopia , whether a federal or other system of government is needed should be decided by the Ethiopian people alone.
    NO bandits of conspirators and outside forces should be allowed to decide the fate of our country.

    one thing is for sure. what we learn from the experiences of the ethnic based federal system is that is has failed miserably to fulfill the aspirations of the people for freedom, democracy and justice.

    ethnic based federalism has created ethnic conflicts , all of which is instigated by the devil tplf.
    It has weakened the felling that we belong to one country. this has been one of the things tplf wanted to create and tplf is busy eroding Ethiopian identity from the thinking of many people every day.

    If the oromo protest or the amhara protest against the violence of tplf, other ethnic groups tend to think that it is their problem not ours and there is no solidarity shown , no unity of struggle to remove the cause of the problem , the fascist tplf. this also suits tplf, and tplf looters will continue to attack one ethnic group after another.

    If the ormo are protecting their patch of land Tplf allocated to them, if the amhara do the same, if the gamblella do the same, where is the sense of us being one country. where is the solidarity. where is our Ethiopian identity.

    therefore we have to move away from this ethnic/language based federalism. it is a devils plan to destroy Ethiopia.

    the people of Ethiopia should be given the chance to decide what type of federalism they want, if any, and the issue should be discussed widely.

    It should not be done behind close doors , like Tplf/olf/USA/UK did in 1991.

  21. aha!
    | #21

    As per Mezmur @#15 of a divide and rule policy is one of the attributes of ethnic federalism, patterned after the constitution of USSR by inference from Dr Desta Asayehegn in terms of self-determination of the already existing states to the ethnic federalism established according to “settlements, languages and (ethnic) identity” of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia(fdre). The other attributes of ethnic federalism is that it serves as a prelude to ethnic secessionism, based on Article 39 (1) and Article 10 (1&2), which puts ethnic and secessionist rights ahead of individual rights, future boundary conflicts and an on going ethnic cleansing followed by genocide of the Amhara ethnic and Annuak ethnic group in Gambella.

    The ideology of ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalitarianism (Art. 40) as carry over from the Derg Military Dictatorship, ethnic federalism, and secessionism adopted from the constitution of USSR(Dr. Desta Asayehgn)but not the democratic countries. The constitution is drafted with TPLF as the architect of the constitution with mainly the Oromo elites as drafters of the constitution, which pronounces self-rule and self-rule to the parties lined up with ethnic agenda, never the less a coalition as OPDO/EFDF/Medrek/fdre, with the goals for respect ethnic rights, rights to self-rule and self-determination, respect human rights, a common denominator,”yekilil Mngistats iqulinet Mebit Mekeber”, and democracy to be supper imposed over ethnic rule, minority ethnic rule now and majority ethnic rule in the future, with ideology (ies) built into the constitution remaining in tact and indirect contrast to Ethiopian Nationalism of Ethiopia as a one nation state of multi-ethnic groups living harmoniously together for centuries in the original provinces of assorted ethnic groups, like the City Government of Addis Abeba and the United States of America, by emulating its constitution as a democratic government, that rules by the consent of the governed, rather than constitution of USSR, rather than adopting the Colonial style and/or the Apartheid style of governance and developmental State capitalism in East Asian Style and an economic and political strangle hold of the countries resources by TPLF/Political, TPLF/EFFORT, TPLF affiliated enterprises and foreign corporations, particularly in terms of land lease and ceding Ethiopian land mass to Sudan Government over on to top of humanitarian, environmental and economic crises perpetrated by the TPLF/eprdf regime, a conglomerate of ex-liberation fronts that are implementing the above mentioned constitution.

    In the context of the uprising of the Oromo students over the Master Plan for the expansion of the City Government into the surrounding towns of Oromia “Killil Astedader”, here is the view point expressed by Prof. Messay kebede: “Those who expect the Oromo to rebel by assuming the Ethiopian identity (Ethiopian Nationalism) forget that the notion of Ethiopia as unitary nation (one nation State) has receded since TPLF and EPLF defeated the Derg and the former implemented the system of ethnic federalism”, diminishes Ethiopian Nationalism of Ethiopia as one nation state with the goals for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, where the last item refers to individual rights to super sede ethnic and secessionists rights as bases for liberal and/or social democracy to have a foot hold in Ethiopia, let alone to ask other ethnic groups only to maintain the same ideology and constitution.

    Here is review of the ideologies built into the constitution by Dr. Tesgaye Ararsa, as stipulated in the constitution, “the supreme Law of the Land”, in the context of expansion of the City Government of Addis Abeba into the surrounding towns of Oromia “killil Astedader”. His reviews he postulates/translates the constitution to read that Addis Abeba (finfine), which I think “filwuha”,but not gulele, entoto, leghar, lideta, kirkos, Addis Ketema, etc to be the seat of the Oromia Killil Astedader and the seat of the federal government of multi-ethnic group as autonomous City Government, and concludes by appraising Oromo Student protest as the resurgence of Oromo nationalism, he also specifies that ethnic federalism was based on “settlement, languages and (ethnic) identity”, rather the original provinces with assorted ethnic groups as autonomous federated states including Eritrea. Both Prof Messay Kebede and Tsegaye Ararsa, lean on maintaining the existing constitution, whch carry the above mentioned attributes of ethnic federalism, secessionism and totalitarianism and/or Developmental state capitalism assisted by crony capitalism prevalent in Ethiopia and undermines the current armed struggle to save Ethiopia from disintegration (Hager Lemadan) but not to establish governments in the same format as the city governments with original provinces of assorted ethnic groups to maintain Ethiopian Nationalism by coalescing around the national agenda to save Ethiopia from disintegration.

  22. Zewdu
    | #22

    Sad to say, Ethiopian nationalism has been severely damaged by TPLF.
    Ethiopians who were living abroad at Derg time, including our citizens from the province of Eritrea, were close and cared for each other because of Ethiopianism bond. I am a witness to that. Everything went downhill when EPLF and TPLF were winning and spreading ethnicity. The creation of Ethnic Federation was the final blow to Ethiopian nationalism and it is in its deathbed now. If it weren’t, Ethiopians wouldn’t have let Sudan to take a large area of our land.
    The following actions might rehabilitate Ethiopian nationalism ፦
    1) The Federal Government must enforce equal rights to minorities in Kilils. If they speak the language of the Kilil, they have assimilated fully and must be treated equally. When that happens, the Kilil is naturally transformed from Ethnic to Linguistic Federation as in all other countries;
    2) Promote positive aspects of histories between the different ethnic groups rather than spreading manufactured negative stories;
    3) Treat and develop all regions equally and educate people the advantages of interdependance between Kilils;
    4)Abolish Article 39 so that fringe groups might not be tempted to secede their Kilils; and
    5)If Kilils prefer English to Amharic, let it be the official language of the Federal Government. Instead of having two local official languages, i.e. Amharic and Afan Oromo, on top of having to learn English for schooling, it is better to make English the official language of the Federal Government.It would be too much burden to learn three languages.

  23. Yesma Mola
    | #23

    Did Ethiopian people had a chance to decide its destination? If the answer is no, lets us find a way to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Otherwise fighting for nothing makes us look like a laughing stock.

  24. Dawi
    | #24


    My understanding is Ethiopian federation is language based. With all due respect to you,the maps you mentioned may have been adapted for practical reasons however, the issue has a longer history according to the “creators” of the “ethnic federation”.

    Lencho Leta quotes a former Minister of Education by the name Sahlu Tsedalu of 1933 who said the following:

    “Unity is the strength of a country, and the sources of unity are language, custom and religion . . . [It is thus necessary] to legally preserve in the whole of Ethiopia only Amharic and Ge’ez [We can ignore Ge’ez for it was merely a liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church largely incomprehensible to ordinary believers.] for spiritual and earthly use [while] the language of every pagan must be erased.”

    Lencho concludes “politicizing” ethnicity/language goes back to 1933 not 1991 or later.
    He defends the “ethnic federation” by adding the following:

    “..This policy to erase all languages except Amharic amounts to an ethnocidal intention of eradicating all communities except the speakers of Amharic. The targets of this discriminatory policy had no choice but to launch struggles for self-determination with a view to averting the state-driven intention to eradicate them. These struggles were, hence, the effect of a prior act of politicizing ethnicity/language and not its cause as commonly presumed by the critics of the present multinational federation in Ethiopia…”

  25. Habtom
    | #25

    I am Tigre
    I am main beneficiary of TPLF.
    I am Christian too.
    But I am shocked to my bone by what I read in Ethiopianreview
    Is it true?
    Please read it the folowing.

  26. haille
    | #26

    Federation based on segregation of ethnic groups and languages is something tplf/olf and their masters imposed on the Ethiopian people following the so called London conference. these two fascist ethnicist groups are vowed enemies of Ethiopia.
    tplf’s sebehat nega, quoting from the manifesto of tplf, which he himself drafted , mentiones Ethiopia as an enemy. sebehat nega and his tplf are self confessed enemies of Ethiopia.

    sebehat nega also said in a radio interview that he will engagae the enemy(Ethiopia ), if shabia is attacked. he says Ethiopia colonised eritrea.
    just go to the following web page and read

  27. Mezmur
    | #27

    The TPLF and its appendages (creations)have picked up the blue print for their divide and rule politics from the Italian colonialists. Fascist Itlay pursue the same politics the TPLF does at the moment and that is why the latter is also rightly classified as an ethno-fascist organization. Its late supreme ethnic chief had never hidden his fascistic ideology and he called his ethnic Group as `the golden people`. Practically as the consequence of this fascistic politics in Ethiopia, all the vital economic and political Powers are in the hands of the `so called `golden people`. The nazi leader Adolf Hilter described his `Germanic race`as the super one. The other point I would add is that `Dawi`appears to be in charge (partly or wholly) of this web site.

  28. haille
    | #28

    the average tplf beneficiary only looks at the immediate benefit he gets from tplf looters.

    Tplf see Ethiopia as an enemy. Sebehat NEGA IS THE MIND OF tplf, and just read what he says about Ethiopia on this link –

    If they see themselves as enemies of Ethiopia , it is no wonder that they are behaving in the way we see them. these are satanic people serving the devil. But there is a day of reckoning. be ware! they will blow away like dust.
    every genuine person from tigraeiy region should wake up and expose the heinous crimes of tplf fascist thugs. do not be blinded by the temporary benefit that you get from tplf. tplf will only use you, but they are not going to stand for you.

  29. Dawi
    | #29

    Dear Mezmur,

    It seems to me unlike Lencho Letta & others, you’re underestimating the harm done after the end of Italian occupation when HIM restored the “gabbar system”, banning the official use of other ethnic languages? On top of that, Somalia became independent with an intention to unite territories of Ethiopia’s Ogaden? The “annexation” of Eritrea that followed liberation movements forming? etc.

    You may say the above was done for good intentions but, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions!

    If you ask me, you’re also giving too much credit to TPLF organization. OK- one gets excited and calls a people “the golden”? Do you need to compare him to Adolf? You are talking about the same person that wasn’t bothered one out three children born in his community having non-Tigrean fathers? (stationed military) Made HD his successor – not exactly “golden”? :) C’mon!.

  30. Daniel
    | #30

    I have read your comment. I agree with your assertion that TPLF is a Zionist agent. I also agree with your saying that we are all pawns in the big game. It sounds very reasonable. Some wise men coin amazing newspeak political phrases such as ‘political kids’ and ‘political elders’. World politics is usually a stage of the following 5 groups.
    1st group:
    Good shadow forces, can be labeled as ‘political elders’. They work for the betterment of the entire humanity and want to liberate humanity from bondage of the 2nd group.

    2nd group:
    Evil shadow forces, can be labeled as ‘political elders’ .They work against the entire humanity in order to finally enslave the entire humanity.

    3rd group:
    Frontmen proxy agents usually working for the 2nd group and sometimes to 1st group and can be labeled as ‘political smart’. They are the ones actually ruling in the government political power structure.

    4th group:
    Frontmen proxy agents potentially working for the 1st or 2nd group and can be labeled as ‘political kids’. They are the ones who aspire and strive to seize government political power structure.

    5th group:
    Ordinary mass or sheeple (sheep+people) the largest one in number.
    For me it is a bit difficult to say about the 5th one. But let’s call it ‘political dormant’

    Through out history world politics is mostly and significantly run by the first 2 or 3 groups. However, today’s politics has been even gradually hijacked and controlled mainly by the 2nd and 3rd groups. The 3rd group is the one that runs the front stage political scenes. This is the one in actual government power structure. This group consists of very smart and very opportunist frontmen who are loyally working as a proxy agents to the 2nd group of satanic dark forces. The 4th group consists of very naive and shortsighted ‘political kids’ who do not have the required knowledge or wisdom about the underlying conspiratorial schemes of world politics controlled by satanic dark forces. The 4th group only sees and knows about the 3rd group but does not have the slightest idea about the 1st or 2nd one. The 4th group only fights and barks at the 3rd group and wants to bite it. Because it is the only force that it see as its own peer rival because it the one that runs the front-staged political scene. And like wise the 5th group does the same thing because it learns same trend from the 4th group. Like the 4th group, the 5th group does not know anything about the 1st and 2nd groups. The 3rd and 4th group usually inculcates stereotypical and phony but mostly impractical ideas such as democracy, free-market, free-press, human-rights and other similar ideas we talk about in the usual political landscape. But the world is still in chaos from time to time even though such ideas are inculcated day and night. Why? Because those same ‘political smart’ and ‘political kids’ are directly or indirectly influenced and driven by the 2nd group. They give deaf ear to the 1st group of ‘political elders’ and mostly want to listen to the voice of the 2nd group of ‘political elders’. However, the 2nd group of ‘political elders’ is the satanic dark force who has succeeded in hijacking world politics through deception. This 2nd group manipulates and exploits the 3rd ,4th and 5th group in order to achieve its own ultimate objective .The 1st group is the polar opposite of the 2nd one. The 1st group and 2nd group are rival powers and know each other very well. They are hidden shadow forces who operate behind the curtain. For our convenience one can be labeled as evil power and the other can be labeled as good power. Both operate behind the curtain by using proxy frontmen (3rd and 4th groups and sometimes the 5th) who make political fight. However, the fight between the 1st and 2nd one is more of spiritual rather than ordinary political issues. As we know the 5th group is the numerically large mass .The 5th group does not have any significant role in the general scheme of governance. The sheeple only sees its daily needs and wants. It does not care who is in power as long as its needs and wants are met humanly. It is politically agitated and becomes politically conscious only when its needs and wants are not met and its very survival is at risk. However, this 5th group is cheated and manipulated by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th group under the disguise of democracy or ethnic politics. TPLF per se as a Zionist agent can be grouped to the 3rd one. The majority of so called oppositions who denounce TPLF can be grouped to the 4th one. The naïve and opportunist intellectuals in the 4th group failed to deal with this very perplexing and troubling situation. They failed themselves and they also failed the 5th group. Why? Because they do not see and know the 1st and 2nd ‘political elders’.The 3rd group ‘political smart’ have better understanding about world politics than those of the 4th group ‘political kids’. Because they are seize actual political power and have the a better help and knowledge of the 2nd group of ‘political elders’ And that is why the ‘political smart’ usually succeed and defeat the ‘political kids’. If the ‘political kids’ want to defeat their peer rival ‘political smart’ they must have the opportunity and willingness to listen to the advice of the 1st group of wise men of ‘political elders’ for good-end or that of the 2nd for evil-end.
    The 2nd group has a plan of erecting their satanic new world order. That is why they create mess in the world. They want to weaken and destabilize every society and nation-state in order to finally make the whole world surrender to their new rule. To achieve their plan they must weaken and wipe out every nation-state by deliberately creating managed man-made crisis. To achieve this diabolical objective they deliberately manufacture war, economic and financial crisis, ecosystem-crisis, poverty, malnutrition, disease, ethnic- conflict, sectarian-conflict, gender-war, hatred, fear, confusion, greed and other many man-made problems in the world. This is how they are able to trap humanity to their satanic bondage. Can we solve this perplexing problem of the entire humanity only by democracy or ethnic politics? I doubt. I do not understand how our fellow educated Ethiopians view the situation in their country and the world in general. Any way let God be with us.

  31. aha!
    | #31

    For practical and reasons of what transpires in Ethiopia today, why don’t you label the political groups in Ethiopia in terms of political models defined by their goals and platforms as TPLF/eprdf, OPDO/EFDF/Medrek/fdre, KAEUP, EPRP, etc. in such a way the each of the political groups into one of your political groups, in order to to reflect the two ideologies: Ethiopian Nationalism and Ethnic Federalism, Secessionism, reflecting the alignment of parties/political models and totalitarianism as in Art. 40 and Developmental State Capitalism in East Asian style as the economic models, supported by crony capitalism and absent from the majority of Ethiopians, the dormant political group, because without out individual rights and private property ownership of land there is no free market capitalism nor liberal and/or social democracy. Ethic Federalism, Secessionism and Totalitarianism and/or developmental State Capitalism built into the current constitution do not address democratic ideals nor freedom to the silent majority of Ethiopians, which you consider as political dormant. I count on EPRP to address those ideals and freedom to the silent majority of Ethiopians.

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