Viewpoint

The making of strangers: the Ethiopian constitution as a suicide pact

Constitutions are supposed to bind citizens together, not drive them apart.

A constitution is the basic or fundamental law of a state.

It performs several functions. It sets up a system of government—a parliamentary system, a presidential republic, or a monarchy. It then allocates power within the particular system—who legislates, who adjudicates, and who enforces.

Most current constitutions also include a system of rights that define the relationship between citizens and their government. Some constitutions even split sovereignty. That is what a federal system claims to do. Constituent parts of the federation are given competence over certain subject matters and the national government over others. Each is to be sovereign only over those issues and subject areas that have been allocated to it.

But whatever system of government constitutions set up and however differently they may distribute institutional power, whether vertically (federalism) or horizontally (separation of powers within the federal government), one common purpose animates most if not all constitutions.

They are meant to forge and develop a political community that enables members to see each other not as strangers engaged in existential struggle against one another, but as co-participants in a common project. Constitutions acknowledge the existence of, or constitute anew, a people. The normative underpinning of a well-designed and well-structured constitutional order is an integrative process of association.

The Ethiopian Constitution is unique in that both by its terms and the political culture that accompanied it during the last 30 or so years has managed to transform neighbors into strangers and a people into “peoples” who sometimes view one another as threats, or even mortal enemies.

Some have argued that it is not the Constitution but only the manner in which it was enforced (or not) that has led to our current predicament where citizens see fellow citizens who happen to be members of other ethnic or linguistic groups as aliens who need to be excised from the regional or local body politic. That view is incorrect.

The Constitution forms the basis on which subsequent narratives about strangers and members have taken hold and nurtured. Indeed, the Constitution turned a nation of hybridity into a federation, some might say confederation, of invented purity.

It is no accident that some activists, even prominent political actors, openly talk about the danger to the purity project of inter-ethnic marriage and of speaking languages other than one’s own within one’s community. The effect (and perhaps the intended purpose) of the Constitution has been to rewrite the long history of hybridity—through intermarriage, intercultural exchanges, and other processes of cooperative endeavors that defined Ethiopians—in the service of a pure community and radical difference.

And the political narrative that has accompanied the Constitution in the last three decades has been one of sharpening, making more salient, the differences among the various groups.

What I shall do in this brief reflective essay is show, through close examination of various provisions of the Constitution, how this basic document has led us where we find ourselves where a people has been fragmented into “peoples,” where these “peoples” do at times see one another as strangers and even mortal threats rather than as co-participants in a common project.

The Constitution seemed designed not as a document for an integrative process of association, but rather as a model of dissociation. To use a metaphor a famous U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Justice Robert Jackson, used in another context, the Constitution resembles a “suicide pact.”

The Preamble: A country or a united nations?

Constitutional preambles are meant to perform three functions. First, they identify who the sovereign is that adopts or grants the Constitution. Second, preambles often set out the circumstances that led to the adoption of the document. Third, they list the principles and purposes that the Constitution is meant to embody and advance.

Here my focus is on the first function on the list—the issue of who the ultimate sovereign is who has adopted the Constitution or on whose behalf the document was approved. Almost all national constitutions which have preambles begin with “We the People [of Country X]” or its variations such as “The People of [Country X]” as the ultimate sovereign which have ordained and adopted the constitution. The reference is to one “people” (singular) either as a descriptive or normative (aspirational) matter.

The Ethiopian Constitution is the only one which refers to “peoples,” in the plural, as the sovereign. It is not quite clear what the term “peoples” actually means. To be sure, the Constitution attempts to define it elsewhere (Article 39(5)), but that open-ended and somewhat incoherent definition is made even more incoherent when the same description is said to apply to “nations and nationalities” as well. Why three different terms are listed separately and successively (“Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples”) when they apparently mean the same thing is rather unclear. One cannot clarify the meaning of a problematic term by adding other vague and equally problematic terms to the list.

Even though the Ethiopian Constitution is alone among national constitutions in using the plural “peoples,” there is actually another basic law that uses the plural as part of its opening phrase. That document is the United Nations Charter.  Its preamble begins with the phrase “We the Peoples”. The Charter is the constitution of the United Nations. And the term “peoples” here refers to countries. The United Nations Charter was establishing an organization (a forum) for independent countries not a federal system. It is no wonder that the various ethnic groups who have been designated as “peoples” in the Ethiopian constitutional scheme see themselves and act as if they were different countries.

The level of forces that some of the states have developed and at times display with great fanfare seem to show that these are mini-countries (at least they view themselves as such) that are preparing to defend themselves not from an external threat but from other mini-countries that are constituent parts of a federal system.

So, while almost all national constitutions are designed to transform strangers into co-participants in a common project, the Ethiopian Constitution turned a people into “peoples”; a nation into a United Nations.

Article 47 and “strangers” in their own country

Article 47 organizes the various states along ethnic lines (as “peoples”) and names most of the states after the dominant ethnic group of the region. The description of the state excludes, both textually and symbolically, those Ethiopians who happen to belong to a different ethnic or linguistic group but live within the state border, regardless of how long they have called the place home. Their presence and how they belong become ambiguous.

Indeed, ethno-nationalists have understood the linguistic exclusion of other groups as more substantive, entailing that members of other groups do not enjoy equal membership. They are mere residents and their continued presence is contingent on the goodwill of the majority ethnic groups which are viewed and view themselves as primary stakeholders. They are at best second-class citizens and at worst aliens who pose mortal threat to the identity of the ethnic group whose name the state carries.

Indeed, in some cases, not only is the state named after a particular ethnic or linguistic group (even when it is not the majority in the area) but the state is specifically referred to as the state of that people. Thus, for example, Harar is referred to as “the State of the Harari People.” One cannot be any clearer as to who the primary stakeholders are in that state. The clarity of who has ownership stake is accompanied by the ambiguity of the nature and manner in which non-Harari Ethiopians belong in Harar. These symbolic and textual exclusions have had enormous practical consequences.

Every competition for resources or other social goods is turned into a conflict over identity.  It might be the case that identity will often be a factor in the distribution of resources and goods even if the country is not, as a constitutional matter, organized along ethnic lines. But identity will have a dominant (and a legally sanctioned) role if a country has organized itself along the lines that Ethiopia has.  If conflicts are about interests, then negotiation and compromise are perhaps possible, but disputes about identities are often viewed as zero-sum games. In current Ethiopia, every dispute and every difference is viewed through the prism of identity.

 

Article 47 doesn’t only name existing states, but it also provides that “nations, nationalities and peoples” within existing states have the right to establish their own states “at any time”. The carving of the crystal continues. It is no wonder that many areas are now seeking to have a state of their own, named after them. The purity train marches on! We are in a ditch and we keep on digging to get out of it.

Article 39 and the affirmation of difference

While Article 47 divides the country along ethnic/linguistic lines, signaling that the country is composed of many nations (or is it peoples?), Article 39 takes it further. It recognizes the “unconditional” rights of these nations (peoples) to complete the process and establish themselves as full-fledged countries if they so wished.

The politics of difference established under Article 47 gets explicit emphasis under Article 39. “Every Nation, Nationality, and People has an unconditional right to self-determination, including secession,” says Article 39(1). And the right to break away from the country would be realized if “the demand” for secession is “supported by [a simple] majority” of the residents of the particular state.

Again, it is interesting to note that the Ethiopian Constitution is almost alone among national constitutions around the world in entrenching the right of secession.

There are only five other constitutions in force in the world which refer to a right of secession.  And those countries were dealing with either a one-off issue or circumstances that are dissimilar to conditions that faced and still face Ethiopia. It was not India or Nigeria, countries which have somewhat similar issues as Ethiopia, which inspired the secession clause, for there is no such provision in their constitutions. Indeed, not only India and Nigeria not have a secession clause in their constitutions, but unlike the opening phrase of the Ethiopian Constitution, their preambles being with “We, the Peoplenot “Peoples.

There are several significant ways in which Article 39 manifests and entrenches the politics of difference.

First, it would be very difficult if not impossible to develop a durable and stable national identity with a fully ethnicized political structure overlaid with the right of secession. One can hardly constitute a “people”, as constitutions are meant to do, with “nations” who have the right to “demand” to exit for any reason at all.

The likelihood that the right to exit will be deployed by ethnonationalists to a never-ending strategic use of extortion—extorting power or resources—is very high. Article 39 by its very existence supplies the language of law to the extortionists. A “people” or a “nation” may find it useful to threaten either explicitly or implicitly to secede if it does not get its way on matters of resource or power allocation, even if its demands are unjustified.

As more nations and nationalities seek, nay “demand,” and attain legal recognition as states, the occasions for more, and more intensified, politics of difference increases. And one does not know when and how one could logically stop the proliferation of states given the rather ambiguous and confusing definition of “Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples”.

The number of groups or nations which have the right to demand for legal recognition as sovereign entities seems, at least theoretically, to be endless. Of course, there might be factors such as population base, how resources rich or poor the area is, and its geographic location that might influence the decision to demand recognition as a state. Even considering such factors, my hunch is that there are going to be many more candidates for recognition than we currently have in the pipeline.

Second, the very existence of the right of secession will always form the background within which the politics of difference (different nations with different outlooks and interests) will be practiced. Article 39 will intensify, not reduce, differences among the constituent parts of the federation.

Third, it is not inconceivable that Article 39 will give another incentive to ethnonationalists to engage in forcible displacement of residents from other ethnic or linguistic groups or to discourage such individuals from moving into the state. What better way to make certain that you have a majority vote in case you want to exercise the right of exit than to ensure that there is no significant population from other ethnic or linguistic groups within the particular state?

The threat to strident ethnonationalists and the champions of purity are ethnically or linguistically diverse communities. But the constitutional incentives seem to be organized in a way that will encourage precisely the opposite. Several of the people who were brutally murdered and those who were lucky enough to survive but were displaced following the murder of Hachalu Hundessa were told repeatedly that they did not belong there, even if they were born there and that is the only place they knew and called home.

As one Shashemene resident put it, “I was born and raised in Shashemene, it is the only place I know. But to the rioters I was suddenly an outsider who did not belong here.”  This, of course, was not the first time when Ethiopians were murdered and displaced on the account that they did not belong. Strangers in their own country.

Let me make it clear that to say that constitutionalizing secession has corrosive effect on the national body politic (a position I hold) is not to say that as a matter of political morality there are never any circumstances that would justify exit from a union, even if it is not a constitutional right. That is a different issue altogether which I shall explore elsewhere.

Entrenching the politics of difference

Every constitution includes a process for its amendment. Most constitutions make amending the basic law rather difficult, as it should be. The United States Constitution, for example, requires that two-thirds of each house of the Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate) must vote affirmatively before a proposed amendment shall be submitted for ratification. Under Article V, a proposed constitutional amendment then has to be ratified by three-fourths of the fifty states (38 states) before it becomes part of the constitution.

The current Ethiopian Constitution is even more stringent in its requirements in relations to certain articles of the Constitution. Thus, for example, Article 39, which gives to “[e]very Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia” the unconditional right to secede, cannot be amended unless each house of parliament (the House of Peoples’ Representatives and the House of the Federation) approves it by a two-thirds majority and it has the support of all of the States Councils. Interestingly, amending the amendment procedure itself also requires the concurrence of all States Councils.

While the American Constitution requires the concurrence of 38 of the 50 States, the Ethiopian Constitution requires unanimity of the states in relation to Chapter Three of the Constitution within which one finds Article 39. The odds of getting unanimity among states are very long and are getting even longer as more “peoples” (or is it “nations and nationalities”?!) invoke their right under Article 47 to establish their own states (named after them).

Recently, Sidama became the tenth state. Other groups are knocking on the door to start the process for establishing their own states. As recent events in Wolayta Zone illustrate, the knocks are getting louder. And given the rather ambiguous description of what a people or a nation is as a constitutional or even a sociological matter, many linguistic groups are likely to ask that they be recognized as a state—a never ending journey to the pure community.

The constitutional amendment process provided for in Article 105 essentially locks out the Ethiopian people as a whole from having any say on the question of whether a particular state (people) should secede from the federation.  Apparently, the fate of the union is not, or ought not to be, viewed to be of any concern to the rest of the country.

Language and the durability of a political community

The minimum requirement for a political community is that members of the various groups be willing and able to communicate with one another. Political communities can sustain themselves over a long period of time only if there is shared understanding among members.  There cannot be such understanding if people cannot communicate with one another and have access to some of the same forums of political and social debates or conversations. How does the Constitution deal with the language question?

Article 39(2) of the Constitution provides that every nation, nationality, and people “has the right to speak, to write and to develop its own language.” This is a provision with which I am wholly in accord. Language is not just a means of communication but an important cultural resource. It is often the means by which members of the linguistic group attach meaning and give structure to their cultural activities and rituals. Language is an important cultural software. Retaining and cultivating that resource seems to me to be important not just to the group of which it is the language, but for the entire country as well. After all, the cultural heritage of one group enriches the entire cultural pool within the country. And in a real sense, the culture becomes a heritage for all as well. The right of a group to speak and write its language will ensure the survival and flourishing of the language and the general culture to which the language often gives access.

The Constitution also gives members of the federation the authority to choose “their respective working languages.” That is what Article 5(3) provides. I assume most states have chosen the language of the ethnic or linguistic group after which the state is named as the working language of governmental institutions. This won’t necessarily be fatal to the idea of a united Ethiopia to the extent that there is a common language or common languages through which citizens can engage one another across the land.

However, as I noted earlier, if there are no common languages that enable citizens to communicate with one another (in the literal sense), it would be impossible for them to view themselves as engaged in a common project.  Nothing signals more, and more strongly, that people are strangers to one another than their inability to comprehend each other.

It is true that the Constitution has adopted Amharic as “the working language of the Federal Government,” but that does not ensure that the vast majority of people who do not aspire to work in the federal bureaucracy or have little opportunity to do so will have developed the linguistic capacity to communicate with one another. In the long term, the impact of not having a national language or national languages might be that linguistic groups increasingly become strangers to one another.

At a minimum, children across the nation should be taught a national language or national languages as subjects so that people across the country will have the minimum linguistic capacity to communicate with one another. Otherwise, the gulf among the various groups will continue to widen. The Constitution seems to have laid the ground for that eventuality, at least by omission.

The making of fellow citizens

This is a very stressful time for Ethiopia, a country that certainly is no stranger to stress. But the stress that has had the greatest negative impact on the idea of an Ethiopia is a constitutional order that has turned neighbors into strangers and a nation into a United Nations.

The normative underpinning of a well-designed and structured constitutional order is an integrative process of association. The Ethiopian Constitution seems to have adopted a model of a dissociation constitutional system. In that, it stands almost alone. The long-term viability of a united Ethiopia under such a constitutional order is, in my view, in serious doubt.

It is not too late (and certainly not too early) to start a serious, broader, and more inclusive conversation as to what constitutional order will strike the appropriate balance between honoring the country’s diversity and forging a strong and durable Ethiopian identity. The current constitution is highly tilted to a dissociation order, making it doubtful that under it Ethiopia will remain a coherent political community let alone a prosperous one.

In the guise of pluralizing power, the Constitution has in fact fundamentalized difference. The intensity with which the historically drawn boundaries have been viewed as transcendentally authorized has led groups to convert differences into forms of otherness. The consequence will continue to be an environment that will not lend itself either to democratic governance or even minimal peace, the very things that the politics of recognition that the Constitution champions is meant to usher.

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This is the author’s viewpoint. However, Ethiopia Insight will correct clear factual errors.

Editor: William Davison.

Main photo: People in western Oromia displaced by conflict; November 2018; submitted.

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About the author

Adeno Addis

Adeno has an LL.B. from Macquarie University, Australia and an LL.M. and J.S.D. from Yale University, U.S.. He teaches at Tulane University, U.S., where he holds the W.R. Irby Chair in Law and is the W. Ray Forrester Professor of Public and Constitutional Law.

53 Comments

  • Prof. Addis’ article on the current EPRDF constituiton is great and we all should appreciate him for his time and experitse as a constituitional scholars for over 44 years (the U.S.A constituition) to shade some lights on the weakness, strength, and areas of opportunities to amend or pave a way to how to modify Ethiopian’s constituition for the comon good before the country collapses just like Nigeria did in 1966 after being a republic for less than three years due to its poorly drafted constituition that granted previllage to only three ethenicity ( Hausa/Fulani in the North, Yoruba in the west, and the Igbo in the Eastern region) while the country actually have over 250 ethnic groups and over 500 langauages.

    As prof. Addis indicated, we still have enough time to compromise and work towards a mutually beneficial rules of governance to save the federation. We don’t need a zero sum game plan to spare the republic of ethiopia, instead we should be focusing how we all can co-exist in harmony.

    Thanks.

  • Thank you Professor Adeno. This is an excellent piece. You are the Authority on the subject. Please write more. The Constitution has a birth defect . It lacks legitimacy( legal, sociological and moral). Most Ethiopian lawyers who have published on the making and legitimacy of the constitution agree that there is birth defect and it lacks legitimacy.

    “Bad laws are the worst form of tyranny. Ethiopia’s current constitution is an elite pact among TPLF chief architects from Tigray and few willing subservient associates from the rest of the country. Now most have admitted this fact and are calling for amendment.

  • Thank you Professor Adeno. We need you to write more . You are the authority on this subject. The constitution has a birth defect(Tsegaye Regasa , Meaza Ashenafi, Abera Degefa etc published articles on this) . It lacks legitimacy. We need to make it the constitution of the Ethiopian People.

    Ethiopia’s constitution: the mother of all ills ( by Mohammed Ademo of Opride).https://www.opride.com/2014/07/20/ethiopia-s-flawed-constitution-why-the-law-cannot-protect-you/

    Some government lawyers have attempted to delude the public by writing books with misleading titles. A good example is Fasil Nahum’s “Constitution for a Nation of Nations: The Ethiopian Prospect.” However, Ethiopia does not possess a constitution in the real sense of the term nor does it have a constitutional tradition. To be clear, Ethiopia’s current constitution is an elite pact among TPLF chief architects from Tigray and few willing subservient associates from the rest of the country.

    Other regime loyalists, including foreign surrogates, have praised TPLF’s “bold” move “to face the fact of ethnic diversity” by going against the prevalent political practice in Africa, which gives preeminent place to political unity over plurality. For their expert testimony, their bosses expertly rewarded the discussants with political appointments such as advisors to the prime minister with ministerial portfolio and I hasten to add, with little exaggeration, government limo and infinite money supply.

    In the aforementioned Burkean sense, it is clear that the TPLF laws are at the heart of our systematic oppression and should be categorized as enemies of the Ethiopian public. But the mother of all these arbitrary laws is none other than the TPLF constitution itself. Those who have read through the impressive list of fundamental human rights, political, economic, social and cultural rights — from collective right to improved living standard and sustainable development, every citizen’s right to participate in national development planning and policymaking, right to clean and healthy environment and etcetera — may be shocked by my characterization of the constitution as the mother of all of Ethiopia’s ills.

    However, I believe this is where TPLF has been a little brilliant. They catalogued as many rights as their bigwig lawyers could imagine into a sham constitutional document with two immediate purposes: a) to outwardly project an image of good students of democracy to their principal donors from London to Berlin and Washington; b) to arm themselves with soft technologies and vocabularies of mass-manipulation when the effectiveness of brute force as a crude technique of governance hits its upper limit. But, upon critical scrutiny, it becomes vividly clear that the TPLF’s constitution is a scheme of organized coercion built on contradictory principles. It is also structurally flawed due to certain “congenital infirmities”.

    First, the constitution lacks what leading American constitutional theorist Richard Fallon calls the three distinct criteria to measure any constitution: legal, sociological and moral legitimacy. The Ethiopian constitution lacks legal legitimacy because both the drafting and ratification processes were deeply flawed. There is a plethora of literature demonstrating how TPLF systematically excluded key stakeholders and dictated its will into the document as if this was a simple writing exercise for a founding memorandum of a fraternal association among close friends.The TPLF chaired the Transitional Government which facilitated the establishment of the constitutional commission, supervised and competed in the election of members of the constituent assembly, cleared the political environment through heavy-handed security crackdown on serious political forces vying to put their imprint on the constitution and filled the constitutional commission with its hand picked candidates.

    Under such circumstances, the outcome could only be a genius elite pact at best. As such, calling the document a constitution would be a misnomer. In addition, while available empirical evidence is very thin, the lack of acceptance among most Ethiopians puts its sociological legitimacy very much in doubt. But until such evidence is brought to the fore, the fact remains that — both for right and wrong reasons — an overwhelming majority of Ethiopians do not trust the current constitution as a real constraining force with normative grounding and institutional efficacy that could safeguard their rights against excesses of the government.

  • This can’t be any more evident! It was a pact between OLF and TPLF who wanted to exploit the country as long as they stay in power and declare their Tigray and Oromia countries when they can’t be in power putting the other Ethiopians to civil war! While the benefit is only for political elites from these two ethnic groups, the ordinary citizens are not beneficiaries but the Amharas are the primary victims!

  • Thank You Professor that was deep thought article. The current Ethiopian constitution is designed to disintegrate the country into small pieces. Tito’s Yugoslavia was in a similar state in the past as a one country, now Yugoslavia is broken into six independent countries. See the following link:
    https://www.britannica.com/place/Yugoslavia-former-federated-nation-1929-2003/The-third-Yugoslavia

    Many far sighted people pointed out in early 1990’s Ethiopia is going a similar path, but the TPLF regime purposely designed ethnically divided regions that will never stand together as one a one nation . Designed the constitution similarly- the purpose was not nation building it was nation breaking – so far TPLF seems to be getting what they wanted. Now the responsibility is on the rest of the country (other than TPLF) whether to go in a direction TPLF designed or change the course of the country to unit and be able to live together and prosper. The choice are two:
    1) Continue in the path TPLF designed and end up in a civil war that will never end no winner!
    2) Change the constitution to address individual right while respecting all ethnic groups and be able at least feed our population and aspire to growth and prosperity – which is achievable with peace.

  • Your numbers are wrong northern empires have existed for thousands of years. Only minilik brought monarchy to Addis around 1890s not quite 150 years since all collapsed in 1974. Interesting historical facts.

    I thought we need to get over which tribe needs to dominate and abuse others era and make constitution equitable to the individual per this beautifully written article?

  • Professor Addis, I have one suggestion. Please allow for this well written article to be translated in several languages currently widely used in Ethiopia. Let it be published and well distributed in various formats and media to be readily available for all Ethiopians. The tool for Ethiopians to fight against the ignorance and total iron fist control by political opportunists and party ideologues and demagogues is knowledge. Ethiopians have common sense, given the right leadership and guidance; they can incorporate any theoretical concept, understand and challenge the dogmas forced on them by diehard fanatics of ethnic politics. Some 40 or 45 years ago, diehard Socialists and Communists were deafening the ears of Ethiopians with constant preaching of Marxism, Leninism. Mocking the traditions, culture, religion and centuries of indigenous wisdom of the Ethiopian people, they professed, only they knew what would be best for Ethiopia. They committed heinous crimes against humanity, murdered tens of thousands for a political dogma and demagoguery. In the end, their fervent cadre preaching left nothing in the hearts of Ethiopians. After the tears and blood of millions, their political dogma was in the end buried for good together with their zealous fervor and worshipping of Marxism-Leninism. The same fate will happen to the current zealots of ethnofanatics. It is a matter of time. In the end, pragmatism will triumph over any worshiper of “ism- in whatever form and disguise it comes and wraps itself.

  • You Amhara elites don’t know that Amharic is taught from elementary schools in Tigray, Oromia, Somali, Afar and Sidama? This is white lie. How can the rest of Ethiopian elites sit for dialogue with this devious group, total liers?

    Why did you keep silent when the Amhara militias slaughtered hundreds of Gumuz civilians? Don’t think your media cries will cover up the genocides committed against Gumuz and Qimant civilians. The truth will prevail.

    • Getting it from thet backdoor in other words tossing out constitution in its entirety, formalities and legalities, much
      lesd considering opinions of the.majority of the cizens, is the gist of this argument I guess. It won’t happen easily if not wishing the nation for disintegration. Why the author not just sstate the obvious from gets go instead of beating around bush . That would have made easier for the life of every concerned or glossing over the argument. It is a such skewed and alarmist option piece that needn’t serious deliberation or contemplation at all. Case closed.

      • Typo correction

        The idea isn’t getting in from thet backdoor? In other words, tossing out constitution in its entirety, formalities and legalities, much less considering opinions of the.majority of the cizens, is the gist of this argument I guess. It won’t happen easily, if not wishing the nation for disintegration. Why the author not just state the obvious from get-go instead of beating around bush . That would have made easier for the life of every one concerned to gloss over the argument. It is a such skewed and alarmist opinion piece that needn’t serious deliberation or contemplation at all. Case closed.

  • Group mentality is herd mentality. The individual Ethiopian is born free with inalienable rights to live, travel, receive due process of the law, and be represented in a democratic and participatory government in any parts of Ethiopia.The first order of the constitution should therefore be the guarantee of the well being of the Individual Ethiopian. The rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of the Individual Ethiopian should not, under any circumstance, be curtailed, limited, or abused by any group that organizes under the pretext of “ nation and nations”. A constitution that protects the rights of the Individual Ethiopian regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, place of birth, mother tongue or first language spoken will guarantee the protection of the rights of groups as well but not vice versa.

    The so called Ethiopian constitution therefore can be tossed out in its entirety or at the very least, certain portions in it can be tossed out in its entirety. The constant barking from the political cadres and opportunists of TPLF, OLF and various self appointed liberators of imminent collapse if the constitution is amended or rewritten should be met derision and considered just blown hot air. The reader should be reminded that the first ever written constitution of Ethiopia is not even quite 100 years old (1931, Imperial Regime of Emperor Haile Selassie). And yes there was an Ethiopia without a modern, written constitution with a functioning, well defined government, recognized in the world before that. So amending, or re-writing the current ill-drafted constitution, a product of the incoherent, rabid Marxist-Leninist and ethno-fanatic self appointed liberators is inevitable and absolutely necessary.

    For nearly 50 years, Ethiopians have been the guinea pigs for the political laboratory experiments of the self appointed liberators who change their colors like chameleons, organizing themselves as groups first coming as derg military, ethnic group liberators TPLF, OLF, etc. They have looted, stolen, killed, massacred thousands, displaced millions and created havoc for the people of Ethiopia. They steal public resources, amass wealth and live in comfort and luxury without having worked for a minute and earning an honest living in their entire lives. Meanwhile millions of Ethiopians have lived in poverty, toiling day in day out without even the guarantee to their precious lives, a natural, inalienable right. Group mentality as stated at beginning is herd mentality. The individual criminal element, thief and murderer hides in his or her group evading individual accountability before the law. It has been tried for 50 years and it is time to say enough is enough.

  • Let’s be honest. The so called Ethiopian constitution is a fake document that mocks and ridicules the rights of minorities, reducing and defacing the identities of over 25 million people of various historical, cultural and linguistic identities of their own to a mere “Southern peoples” category and giving a truly tiny minority of at most 5 million in Tigray a monopoly of state resources and apparatuses of the government. It was designed on purpose to establish TPLF monopoly and usurpation of all state resources and funds. It monopolized the banks, the military, the entire civil service and nearly all sectors of the economy. There was no federalism in Ethiopia for the last 30 years. It was a fake experiment. It was a sleight of hand, now showing you a white dove and next pulling a red handkerchief.

    Doubters and apologists of the nationally defunct TPLF can prove the claim above by simply investigating that the Somali region received from the “federal government” and compare it to what the Tigray region amassed in the same time frame.

  • Great article. The constitution drafted by TPLF, OLF and others did not have a single input or say from Ethiopians. It was based on the incoherent and ethnocentric misunderstandings of Marxist-Leninist ideologues. As mentioned by many commentators, it did not even have the foresight and political maturity to protect the rights of Ethiopians born from more than one ethnic group. Centuries of traveling and intermarriages between various ethnic groups render the concept of ethnic and linguistic purity test laughable. Ethiopians have been multilingual for centuries. The use of Amharic language as the official language of the country was a historical incident, an antecedent of the 12 th century. The claim of “one language, one culture, one religion” is utterly false. There has never been such a thing in Ethiopia, ever. The Oromo language, Harari (Aderegna), Somalian, Tigrayan language and all together, over 80 languages and dialects have been extant to this date. There were mosques, churches, synagogues and houses of worship before TPLF. The religious holidays in Islam have been official, national holidays for nearly half a century. The people of Ethiopia have coexisted for centuries and will do so in the future. The political elites are the problem makers and agitators. The cadres do not contribute to the wellbeing of Ethiopians. They are deadweights, physical, moral and national burden to the people of Ethiopia. They are the causes for bureaucratic inefficiency, corruption, moral decay and collapse. Since the derg era, political cadres have been suffocating the national discourse with their Marxism, Leninism, Ethnocentrism dogmas. They have poisoned the national air. Cadres also have prevented the educated technocratic workforce from implementing the feasible solutions to the various problems of Ethiopians across their fields. They politicize everything, from bread, to water, electricity, health care facility shortages and so on. They usurp state resources, concentrate wealth by stealing public properties and funds, and give the people nothing but misery. Nearly 50 years after the great famines of the 1970s and 1980s and the less acknowledged droughts of 1990s, after half a century of agricultural research, the nation has still not solved its basic adequate and affordable food supply to its people. By inflaming the public with worthless identity dilemmas, the political elites and their cadres escape being held accountable for the murders, looting and mass human rights violations they commit against their citizens. What a curse!!!!

    • TK – Yes, Amharic’s Official Language status was a Historical happenstance and it was never imposed upon Ethiopians by an Amhara dictator. If any has to be blamed at all, it would be Yohannes IV (a Tigre) for officially declaring (the then de facto official language) Amharic the Official Language of Ethiopia. So, these looter TPLF officials and their sympathizers must blame their own man, Yohannes IV. OLF and the other ethnic political organizations are filled up with enormously ignorant, unemployable and hopeless herds.

      The OLF sympathizers abroad are expensively educated morons. They call Ethiopians of ethnicities other than Oromo living in the current Oromia regions immigrants – Yeminilik sefariwoch. What a disgrace!! Tsegaye Ararsa calls others immigrants while he himself is an immigrant living on welfare in Australia. Similarly, Birhanemeskel Abebe Segni, Henok Gabissa, Ezkiel Gabissa, Solan Bongase and the like, who are well educated and who live in the US as immigrants call Ethiopians ‘Yeminilik Sefariwoch’ – immigrants. What a hypocrsy!! These are all immigrants living abroad.

  • Carving ethnic map currently 10 “soverign states” to unknown numbers in the near future has been a receipe for ethnic cleansing and thousands od death including hundreads week ago in Benishanguel Gumuz. Killing non Oromos in Oromo state has been non stop in the last two years.

    TPLF that carved its map by taking fertile land from Welkait Tegede, Raya and currently shooting Afars to expand its map is the owner of the illegal document called “Constitution”.

    The Oromo tribalists are expanding catching TPLF carving huge land in the last 2 and half years ethnically cleansing the south in hundreads of thousands.

    They are confiscating newly built condos for their tribe and empty lots in Addis Ababa.This is executed by unelected mayor and the Oromo Prosperity Party. The Balderas party leaders are locked up for organizing Addis Ababa residents fighting the Oromo take over of their city.

    Abiy Ahmed lost its support in the diaspora two years ago when he declared a war on Balderas party.

    There is no difference between TPLF and Abiy Ahmed led PP. TPLF built roads and houses in Addis Ababa and many of which it owned and keep collecting rent for the last two years after was kicked from power it controlled for 27 yrs.

    Abiy Ahmed is building river park and renewing the old palace, the 7 million residents have no say and are treated less than the animals in the zoo in the park !!!!

    The Oromos are working 24/7 to declare officially Addis Ababa as their future capital for Oromo Republic when all the tribal states followed Tigray Republic their vanguard that won 100% of the election it organized few weeks ago. Tigray Republic is on the pipe line !!!

    The total war to break Ethiopia can only be averted unfortunatley by African Union. African Union has to prepare sending its peace keeping force in Addis Ababa where its head quarter is located.

    African countries will not allow Tribal States formation by Anti Africa forces by destroying Ethiopia. Old freinds of Ethiopia like Russia and others will not seat idle either.

    It is time for Ethiopians to denounce both TPLF and the Abiy Ahmed administration who are taking Ethiopia to catastrophic war using their illegal document called constitution. Down with the Apartheid document !!!!

  • I found the article fascinating!

    I am not Ethiopian, however, and I have no position regarding the country’s historical battles (political or otherwise) as I don’t have any particular expertise in that field. I also have no solution to offer as it relates to ongoing political matters in the country.

    I’m just commenting here because I found the article so interesting, that I decided to read the Ethiopian constitution
    Thank you Adeno Addis for that inspiration. And thank you Editors for sharing Adeno’s article.

    Having read Adeno’s article and the constitution, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I now know enough about what is happening in Ethiopia to formulate an opinion as to whether I agree (or disagree) with everything he says. However, I will say that I read the constitution’s secession language as referring to the creation of a new State not a separate Nation. That is, the constitution makes clear that Ethiopia is made up of individual States that are all governed by the same Federal constitution even if they each have their own state constitution. But nowhere does it say that a separate Nation can be formed.

    With that in mind, I do have a BIG question related to secession and I’d love to hear folks thoughts and opinions. Here it is:

    Given that there are more ethnic groups in Ethiopia than there are States and also given that all but one of the existing States bears the name of a specific ethnic group even though the constitution does not require that States be named after ethnic groups, why not encourage a marginalized group to secede from their State in order to form a new State, with a neutral name, that is firmly dedicated to NOT marginalizing people based on their ethnic group?

    You see, to me, the secession clause represents exciting opportunity; the chance to begin a national culture-shift that is simultaneously protected by the country’s constitution (a protection not available to all people in all countries), even if that shift has to happen one small step/State at a time.

    • Aurora, did you really read the constitution?

      You said ” … However, I will say that I read the constitution’s secession language as referring to the creation of a new State not a separate Nation.”

      But the constitution clearly states and gives the sates as far as having their own nations by secession.

      read this part from the constitution

      Article 39: Rights of Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples1.

      1. Every Nation, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self- determination, including the right to secession.
      .
      .
      4. The right to self-determination, including secession, of every Nation, Nationalityand People shall come into effect

      If you are interested to see how Ethiopian constitution is dangerous and will lead to the breakup of the country, read this paper.. “The New Ethiopian constitution: Its impact upon unity, human rights and Development By Professior Minassie Haile, written in 1996 https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hVm6qLpV_4zYbqgvCEjVkecTFSJ3Cj8Z/view

  • Thanks for taking the time to write such an enlightening piece. As shown in the piece, it is nearly impossible to amend the current constitution and as such its fate must be to be thrown out in its entirety. As an Ethiopian born from two different ethnicities, the current constitution does not recognize me as a citizen. And as long as this constitution is in existence, people like myself (millions of us) will not have a country that we can call home. The designers of the constitution followed the Italian map to divide the country and we Ethiopians should say no to evilness.

    This constitution must be discarded.

    • Thank you! Some of us have 4 grandparents from 4 corners of ethiopia how shall we deal with the madness.? My 2 parents are as a result from 2 totally unrelated groups

      • Tsigemariam – It has been excruciating to be unrecognized and completely excluded by our country’s so called constitution. Time to call this crappy piece of paper by its real name – piece of junk!

        By the way, no amount of euphemism shall make this crap document legitimate constitution and hence we demand its disposal in its entirety. Anything less shall be a jock and we shall continue our struggle until we are equally treated as citizens.

  • First of all, this piece does not reflect the Ethiopian reality, not useful at all if the intention is to contribute to the future of Ethiopia.

    1. The piece entirely ignores the injustices committed under the emperors and Derg, and starts from EPRDF constitution. This is total denial of the truth.
    2. The piece is full of inacurate and misleading statements. Does not the writer know that Amharic is taught from elementary school in all regions including Oromia, Tigray, Smali, Afar and Sidama?
    3. Is it acceptable for the writer and other Amhara elites to add Oromo language as an additional federal govermnent language? Oromos constitue a third of Ethiopian population according to the official census, and yet still demanding justice and equality.
    4. I think it is time for Amhara elites to rethink and accept the changing reality on the ground. The assimilation project where Amharic is considered the only official language of Ethiopia is outdated. It is time to recognise language pluralism.
    5. The future of Ethiopia lies in inclusive democracy where different localities elect their administrators and hold them to account.
    6. Survival of Ethiopia also depends on recognition of equal rights of ethnic and religious identities. Not on military might, not on media cry.
    7. If Ethiopia becomes a failed state, it is because of Amhara elites who persistenty refused equality with other identities.

    • Nif,
      Please note the following.
      2) Amharic is not taught from elementary schools out side of the Amhara region. So you got it wrong, not the author. So, man-up and swallow this bitter pill.
      7) If Ethiopia becomes a failed state, it would be because of the power struggle among different Oromo elites. The Northerners, regardless of their leadership style, have led Ethiopia and brought it this far in one piece. If it fragments one, it would be because of whoever has the reigns not because of who was years ago. Get this as well.

    • Dear Nif,

      You put it rightly with clear and short arguments or questions. Thank you and hope others could learn why majority of regions/people wanted inclusive and democratic multinational federation.

  • The first time I saw Professor Adeno was some years ago when he was interviewing potential professors for the Tulane Law School at a recruiting event in Washington, DC, organized by Harvard, Columbia, and other leading US universities. I did not have a chance to talk to him, but I got the chance to talk to some of the persons who knew, and who were talking highly of, him. Among other things, they told me “he is one of the leading Constitutional scholars in the US and participated in the drafting of some East Asian countries’ constitutions.” Since then, I was wondering why a person of his caliber and expertise did not contribute “something” to his country.

    The arguments that “persons who do not like the present type of federation in Ethiopia want to return the nation to the ‘nefetegna’ system” or “it is impossible to hold the country together without the present form of federation” is spurious. There are other forms of federations such as the US that Ethiopia can adopt.

    Now labor and capital cannot move freely among regions in Ethiopia. They either stay in one region or, if they have to move, they move only to Addis Ababa. The territorial conflicts among regions are greater than the territorial disputes that Ethiopia has with other countries. Ethnically motivated attacks have become common.

    Even the former Soviet Union, with its huge resources, military, and intelligence did not have a chance to withstand the consequences of the concept of “self-determination up to secession.” Unless Ethiopia changes directions, it will face the same fate.

  • Good Article to read.

    In my view the Ethiopia Constitution has few odd articles which you do not prescribe even to the enemy, but the way it is implemented by the Federal and Regional governments makes it even worse- with greedy and with no vision for future generations. Let me explain.

    (1) The Ethiopian constitution prohibit religion-based party, but silent on Ethnic based party? why then they establish ethnic-based party? You know their answer – what is not prohibited is allowed and the constitution divided the country along the major ethnic lines so we follow. Poor visionless decision.

    (2) Almost all Regional Constitutions contradict the Federal Constitution. Nobody tried to check them when they state that the land of the state belongs to such, and such tribe. see Federal Constitution article 40.4 “The right to ownership of rural and urban land, as well as of all-natural resources are exclusively vested in the State and in the peoples of Ethiopia”.

    (3) No legal ground to burn private property – see what the constitution says: 40.2 “Private property”, for the purpose of this Article, shall mean any tangible or intangible product which has value and is produced by the labour, creativity,
    enterprise or capital of an individual citizen, associations which enjoy juridical personality under the law, or in appropriate circumstances, by communities specifically empowered by law to own property in common.

    ———-
    My view is that the current land in Ethiopia territory is created by the blood and bones of Ethiopians. Any ethnic group shall not have any exclusive rights on the land to the extent to expel others. We know back 2000 years who was where. If extremists wants to solely grab the land by genociding others Ethiopia, then major civil war is inevitable to shape the territory again. If that war comes again, the economic and the hate drive this time will not have any mercy on smaller tribes.
    ——
    Amendment areas:
    The constitution to be amended by prohibiting ethnic-based party – that will be a great achievement;

    Regional government constitution be aligned with Federal Constitution;

    Remove article 39 the right to secession article which is empty words with no defined territories provided in the constitution. The cart comes before the horse. Afterall who takes whose land?

    Cheers.

  • My problem with the current Ethiopian Constitution is it has failed to bring us together.That is so manifest it would be dishonest to deny that this has been a problem for some time..On the other hand, while amendments are in order,I see the quest for the wholesale jettisoning of the Constitution as very close to having no serious concern about the safety and security of the country.That to me is a very unrealistic proposition, and near dangerous to boot.
    Let us be frank.The current Ethiopian Constitution is not a result of mere theoretical and legal debate among Ethiopian politicians.It is largely a result of a prolonged struggle in the course of which much blood was shed and sacrifices made.It would not be honest to deny this as it would not to doubt that the Constitution bears the imprint of the victors.
    The point however is that Ethiopia was at a breaking point toward the end of the 1980s.It was impossible at the time not to have been worried about the fate of the country.It was not only
    nationals who were concerned at the time about the future of their country.Friends of Ethiopia were also at the point of losing hope about Ethiopia’s destiny.Those of us who had witnessed the last days of the Derg regime and the absolute disarray and hopelessness within the government, could not have missed the need for a change in the ruling formula of the state with the view to holding the country together.One did not need to be smart to realize that Ethiopia needed to be organized on a new basis, something that even the Derg had at one point made an attempt to move in that direction.No doubt, that was unrealistic and a half-hearted attempt by the Derg made out of desperation .In any case, that was also the wish of the victors for whom the Derg created the opportunity for them to take the lead in crafting the new Constitution. They did take the lead and did it with gusto.It is impossible to say that they used that opportunity wisely in all cases, and thus perhaps partly — and only partly — the reason for the current lack of sufficient consensus on the Constitution.They could have handled it better, particularly in connection with its implementation.
    What in my mind is needed now is cool- headedness on the part of all — both defenders and opponents of the Constitution — for us to be able to get out of this logjam we are in concerning many areas, including with respect to the Constitution.In terms of the prioritization of the challenges we face, one might argue whether in fact the present Constitution is the major impediment to our coming together.All the same,as far as the Constitution is concerned, it is wise not to treat it in a cavalier manner as we often do and to realize that there are many Ethiopians that will continue to make more sacrifices to protect it.It is downright myopic to overlook this.

    • tekeda alemu,
      1) Are you here to defend the current Ethiopian constitution that disowned Ethiopians born from parents of different ethnicities? Does it even deserve to be considered a “Constitution” to begin with?
      2) The author of the piece already showed readers how difficult or practically impossible amending it is. Given those provisions in the so called constitution, which make any amendment impossible, would you like it to continue the way it is?
      3) You pointed that there are many Ethiopians that will continue to make sacrifices to protect it. Do you mean those who have suffered as a result of this constitution must continue suffering? The constitution is a crap document copied from the TPLF manifesto (except some provisions) and deserves to be torn and thrown to the dust bin.

      I know it benefitted you because you have enjoyed an official position in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I am perplexed to see you pointing fingers how implementation of the constitution was a failure. You were one of those decision makers. And now you have the audacity to come here and complain how people failed to implement the crappy constitution? Please have some dignity for yourself and shut up.

    • Tekeda Alemu – I want to say that I find your comment quite sober and refreshing, in that you saw the disarray at that time and you write as a witness to history. The federalism put in place was essentially a recognition of the political and anthropological truth and dilemma: that Ethiopia is made up of so many ethnic groups, and this issue needed to be addressed to keep the nation together.

    • Dear Tekede Alemu,

      Your balanced, matured and fair idea is much appreciated. Some politician who are self-centeredand, egoistic and don’t think beyond their circle/ideology are the cause of further polarization. It is such kind of idea that gradually build trust among elites from diverse groups so as to offer sustainable solution instead of treating symptoms.

  • The article is well written theoretically but didn’t touch the root cause for the creation of this federalism. There was deep historical injustice and this federalism is a response to that injustice had it been well implemented democratically and genuinely. Democratising the current federal system and building trust among ethnic group is the key first step that any politicians and thinkers should suggest at this critical time instead of polarization approach that majority don’t agree. It is such blind hate to multinational federation that pushed the Emperor H/Sillasie to dismantle Eritrean federation and then led such large country to lose its Eritrean brothers and our ports there costing us a lot. It is such misguided, feudalistic and rigid mentality that led the country to civil war during Derg regime. All nationalities in Ethiopia mainly the marginalised ones like Somali, Oromia, Harari, Sidama, Tigray, Walaita, Kambata, Hadiya, Gambela, Benishangul and even the oppressed Amharas (except those seeking the return of old system) are happy if the cuurent federal system is truly and democratically implemented (without being abused as TPLF did in the past). So what do you want to impose with out their interest? Are you consudering them all ignorant that they don’t know about themselves? The nations and nationalities I mentioned above have their own common identity, culture, languages and geographical location that helps them to fulfill the criteria for forming a federal system in such a complex and diverse society that you reduced to good neighbors or some kind of family members.

    The only solution we have for now is to correct past and current injustice by democratising the multinational federation via ensuring rule of law and establishing democratic institutions. What we have tested for long the monarchichal dictatirship, unitarist dictatorship, and TPLF fake fedralism(unitarist in essence). Hence, we want to democratise the multinational federation and ensure self rule abd shared rule. That way we can build trust among elites/peoples struggling for the right of their respective nation/nationalities and gradually transition to a full-fledged democracy like the poeples of Canada and Switzerland.

  • Ethiopia Federalism, it’s all about economic-sharing, Power-sharing & ownership-sharing as most of Africa has tribal politics or tribal rule. argue Ethiopia Federalism is asking why x-Yugoslavia or Bosnia has Federalism or ethnic problems…

    in Ethiopia🇪🇹
    #2:Amhara ethnic ruled for 150 years.
    #4:Tigrey ethnic ruled for 27 years.
    #1: Oromo ethnic ruled for 2 years.
    #3: SOMALI ethnic ruled for Zero years.
    #5/6: Sidama & Afar ruled Zero years.
    #7: Waliyta’mara ruled for 30 years.

    Ethiopia’s ethnic Federalism is solution for ethnic problems/oppressions during last 177 years that denied other citizens/ethnics any rights on their own land but “subjects”….

    • Your numbers are wrong northern empires have existed for thousands of years. Only minilik brought monarchy to Addis around 1890s not quite 150 years since all collapsed in 1974. Interesting historical facts.

      I thought we need to get over which tribe needs to dominate and abuse others era and make constitution equitable to the individual per this beautifully written article?

    • Samakaab Cali – It is becoming self-evident and apparent that Oromos lack the cohesiveness and required nationality to lead Ethiopia. They have plenty of issues among them as a result of which they are dragging the country to nose dive into the abyss. What is undeniable is the garish display of the irreconcilable power struggle among the political factions from different Oromo tribes. Time to try the non-ethnic based political parties.

  • Dear Editor,
    Adeno is to be congratulated for his critical analysis of the Ethiopian constitution which I have found enlightening. I note the comments made by readers, some supportive and some outright hostile. Adeno’s article needs to be viewed in light of the contributions it can make towards improving the constitution rather than from one’s jealously guarded views about it. It is important to note that a constitution (including the Ethiopian constitution) is not a Bible or Holy Koran that cannot be interfered with. It is a living document that needs improvement from time to time, including ironing out whatever anomalies it may contain. People should be encouraged to contribute towards the discussion to improve the constitution with the view to bringing peace and prosperity to the country. Ethiopia-insight is to be congratulated for facilitating this discussion.

  • Excellent post which needs to be said again and again! Having a federal system which tries to divide people based on ethnicity is a recipe for disaster!If the whole point of our system is for ethnic groups to retrench themselves in territories and be antagonistic towards each other, and if people do not feel safe if they are not living in the region of their ethnicity,then we are no longer a country. And the alternative as some commenters are saying does not mean the imposition of amhara rule or Amharic on others (whatever that’s supposed to mean) or unitary rule. They are confusing a democratic federal system which respects the rights of citizens to live free to one which threatens their welfare based on their ethnicity.

  • Ethiopian Constitution does not protect the poor from the elites . The ex Commercial Bank of Ethiopia President , Bacha Gina families and friends “Oromo elites” children who reside in Ethiopia attend Pearson’s international online academy paying a one year school tuition estimated between $4,000 USD dollars and $6,800 USD dollars for one child with money stolen from the poor.
    ……………………………………………………………………………..
    Pearson Online Academy › about-us
    An International School for Expatriates | Pearson Online ……………………………………………………………..

    https://www.pearsononlineacademy.com/enroll/private-school-tuition

  • The author uses hyperbolic words like suicide pact to present a bleak view about federalism in Ethiopia. But the truth is that some 30 years ago, the political situation in Ethiopia was even more bleak with so many armed liberation movements, signifying the anthropological reality that Ethiopia is in fact a nation of some 80 ethnic groups. The politics of ethnic identity and ethno-nationalism had arrived in Ethiopia, it was undeniable and unavoidable. Ethnic federalism was the “political settlement” that was found to be, by and large, acceptable to hold the nation together. It was a pragmatic solution under the circumstances. There are improvements and clarifications that can be made to the constitution and the federal order. But this requires a national forum/dialogue among those who “resent” federalism and those who “defend” federalism to agree on a “political settlement”. At the moment it is generally understood that more people prefer federalism than otherwise.

  • This person is out of reach. The only thing he stated in his writing is right from the book and tried to compare the incomparable. Ethiopia is the product of the scramble of Africa created by the weapons of Europeans, but an African colonizer by the name Menelik. So it is composed of different nationalities and ethnicities who had their own distinctive history and psychological make up. The sentiments and affiliations of its population is based on this divisions. There is no other way but federalism based on this divisions that will sustain this myth called Ethiopia. If you did not safeguard this division line the minorities will be insecure and this sense of insecurity will create chaos and will lead to the collapse of the myth itself. The dividing line of the population based on ethnic, linguistic, and religious difference will fade in time through a process of , economic development, social integration, and most important through reconciliation with the past history. You don’t have to continue the rhetoric of the fairy tale of 3000 years of independence. There is no way of building a nation in false ground and fairy tale myth. You have to accept this is the truth in the ground, people think ethnically, linguistically and religiously, and start from here not from a book warms, or war mongered mind set who are out of reach and want to impose their wishes and interests.

  • The essay dissects a constitution that was (still is) designed to facilitate the divide and rule tactic of a group who is interested only in looting the country.

  • Very true piece of article. Thank you for letting the blinds see the light – TPLF’s adoptions of colonial power, Italian’s, map and insinuation into the constitution is despicable. The explosives are erupting already – it takes thousands of years to build a nation but only 27 years was enough to break the country. The people who have the capacity to lead the country are leaving the country only those who have no capacity, no vision and filled with hate are sitting in the driver sit. Very sad!

  • Adeno Addis’s advice is an invitation to the new version of aggression by emperors, who claim Uniformity under the guise of Unity. Having different Ethnicities, languages, Cultures, Backgrounds etc… is a precious gift of beauty that we can demonstrate to the World.
    The essence of federalism is not to form Uniform state or country but to form Unity among state constituency to create All inclusive central government.
    Mr Adeno don’t forget that Self rule and Shared rule is among basic pillars of federalism.

  • The to-go defense of activists who oppose citizenship based constitution is that it is “Amhara interest”, “unitary government”, etc.

    They fail to understand that it is simply a divide-conquer document conceived by Tplf. Tigray remained the same before and after the constitution was written. The rest of Ethiopia was completely remapped and divided as Amhara and Oromia. The rest is history.

  • Very interesting piece which has pinpointed the ills of TPLF constitution designed to install and perpetuate minority divide and rule in the country. Some are giving negative comments simply because of the underlying social ills induced by the constition.

  • This is one of the bogus articles I have ever read. The problem of the article stems from believing Ethiopia is a nation state. Ethiopia has so many Nations and Nationalities. Our languages and cultures are as important as oxygen. And the notion of having only Amharic language and Amhara culture unacceptable in today’s Ethiopia.

    The imposition of Amharic and Amhara culture on others has no place in today’s Ethiopia. Your position is as old as the hills. It’s so much out of date and unfit the reality on the ground. It is similar with some African ‘scholars’ who argued in favour of English, French and Portuege languages. Ngugi wa Thiong’o responds like this : “There is something very wrong in saying to a human being, ‘let me cut off your legs and I will give artifial ones, which will be perfect.’ I am saying let us walk on our two feet.”

    Ethiopia should have either a genuine federal system or disintegration.

  • You started your essay with a preconceived idea and reached your own conclusion that is not supported by any study. This should not be taken as a scholarly piece but a self-serving highly biased opinion that is fully based on unproven anecdotes.

  • It is well written but it suffers from from a sickness we see most often with Ethiopian intellectuals. The problem of starting with a preconceived notion most likely aligning to ones ethnic ideology and then blanketing that with scientific/pseudoscientific jargon. I do understand the difficulties of evaluating an idea with out any preconceived ideas but that’s why their is the scientific method .

  • Mr editor this pieces is the ideology of those who need unitary government to protect the interst of one elite or tribe, Amara elite. Even the the idea of the people whom writer quote is of the same elite. There is nothing wrong with Ethiopian constitution, it’s the current government who is killing the oromos, wolaytas, sidamas, Qimant, Gumuz…. we do not have people to people problem nor conditional problem. Those who do not want to see people’s self rule curse our constitution to change it to that of monarchical time constitution. This will lead to the disentigration of the country.

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