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Ethiopia, A Stable Peace or an Impending Crisis?

(Teklemariam T. Tesfay [PhD])

Meles was the sole architect of all the major policies of the country that brought about double-digit economic growth for more than a decade. His sudden passing left his party and the country in shambles.

The man who succeeded him was by all measures unprepared. Even though he had all the chances to leave his own mark by setting his own agenda for the government he led, he decided to act like someone who was bound by a spell. He became a subject of mockery for his lack of leadership and for parroting the same phrases Meles would have used while addressing the parliament and in interviews.

His tenure was marked by a period of confusion and turmoil. The country experienced the longest and most disastrous protests that destroyed several investments and loss of hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. Ethnic tension increased to levels unseen in the history of the country.

While all this was unfolding, the prime minister demonstrated total lack of leadership. The Ethiopian people stopped believing in him bringing any change to the state of beings and prayed for a savior to be delivered from somewhere.

As protests intensified and the country started entering into a precarious situation, it became clear for everyone that the chances of EPRDF to continue to rule the country were slim unless some radical measures were taken. And this the party did.

The prime minister announced his resignation on Feb 15/2018. The party approved his resignation and decided to elect a new party chairman who would also assume the premiership. History will remember Meles’ successor as an inconsequential premier who spent his time in the national palace as a simple resident but not as a premier.

The protests opened rift among the four sister parties that form the EPRDF. The opposition and the parties within the EPRDF intensified the TPLF/Tigray supremacy narrative and used it to their advantage. Populists within the parties exploited the situation to agitate their constituency and reach the helm of power.

New blood replaced the old guards in OPDO. Individuals who seem to have actively contributed to the displacement and suffering of Tigrians in the Amhara region seemed to have gained the upper hand within ANDM. TPLF seemed to have been left confused about how to respond to the situation.

Being a party that swears by the importance and effectiveness of “gimgema” (meetings of performance appraisal), TPLF had several of this meetings, with no significant effect. The party’s central committee kept the same faces that have become all too familiar to us since the party came to power (or even before). It has become a party of the elderlies when the other parties have transformed themselves to become parties of the “new generation”.

OPDO, in particular, has seen the ascendance to power of a populist Lemma who, at first, seemed to be the man who could bring his region to peace and lead the path to national reconciliation. Alas, it did not last long. He was too little too carried away by the attention he was getting and started acting like someone who was leading the whole country by defeating an opposition party. In his speeches, he seemed to harbor resentment and hold grudges against those imaginary individuals he defeated.

The race to the top

Once the ineffectual premier’s resignation was announced, it was obvious that the next prime minister was going to come either from OPDO or ANDM. TPLF had neither the willingness nor the readiness to present a candidate. SEPDM was an unlikely contender for a second come back to the top.

The sitting vice prime minister was from ANDM. Ethiopia has not had a prime minister from ANDM since the current constitution came into force in 1995. The region represented by ANDM was one of the restive states that saw displacement and suffering of tens of thousands of Tigrians. All this combined; ANDM had a chance to win the premiership.

However, infighting within the party was rife. Although it formed what seemed like a sinister alliance with OPDO to challenge the ‘status quo’, it was obvious that ANDM was not going to have strong support from other sister parties to secure the premiership.

OPDO, on the other hand, seemed to have done every preparation it can to get the premiership. Contrary to party tradition, during the days leading up to EPRDF’s chairman election, OPDO leaders openly talked about the party’s prime objective being to secure the premiership.

Few days before EPRDF’s council meeting, OPDO quickly swapped the chairman and vice chairman leadership in a meeting that was held in short notice. This swap took many people by surprise. However, for those who knew Abiy, it did not come as a surprise to see him coming to the top. They say Abiy has always talked about his intentions of being the prime minister of the country.

For months OPDO seemed to have invested heavily on social media to create a personality cult around the group dubbed ‘Team Lemma’, which was pictorially represented by the trio – Lemma, Abiy and Addisu. Lemma was the vocal leader who seemed to be liked by everyone in Oromia.

Although Abiy’s role in openly advocating for an ‘Oromia cause’ was marginal if any, the social media campaign was more focused on Abiy’s image-building than it was on Lemma. Many of the short notes and videos posted by facebook accounts with pseudonyms portrayed Abiy as the intellectual leader who knows everything about anything. In different excerpts from his plagiarized ‘presentations’ posted on social media, he pretends to have mastery of astronomy, genetics, medicine, traditional healing, biology, religion, anthropology and whatnot.

For a country that loves academic titles and appreciates phoniness and grandiosity, Abiy seemed to be a Godsend messenger who had the key to every problem the country had. The people had no doubt about who the next prime minister should be. It was Abiy.

The EPRDF council started its meeting on March 20/2018. As a party tradition, the public is not informed about what goes on in these meetings. Unlike previous meetings, participants leaked information about how the meeting was being conducted and who said what against whom. Like all leaks, no one can say whether the leaks were right or not.

The calm after the storm

On March 27/2018, Abiy was elected as a party chairman. Although votes were cast anonymously, leaks started to trickle out that Abiy did not get a single vote from TPLF and that ANDM decisively voted for him. For all we know, these leaks deserve no credibility. However, what was clear was the days of EPRDF reaching consensus with ease and with no serious fault lines were gone. The party is now seen as a party of four contending parties that don’t even seem to believe in the same political ideology.

On April 02/2018, Abiy was sworn in as the prime minister of the country. His acceptance speech spanned several issues. His speech was one of hope, forgiveness, new beginnings and working for a unified country. It was well accepted by the populace.

Before even leading the country as prime minister for a single day, people talked about how great a leader he was, how he saved the country from a total collapse to a strong and unified one. This brings to mind the time the Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama less than a year into his first term as the US president.

Abiy got to work immediately after he was sworn in. He started his seemingly endless tour to the different regions and neighboring countries. Everywhere he went, he was accepted warmly and his speeches were accepted with a big round of applause. He continued his message of hope and forgiveness and acknowledged the contributions each people in different corners of the country made for the country.

During his visit to Mekelle, the prime minister acknowledged that many Tigrians were wrongly targeted in different parts of the country, especially in the Amhara region. The fact that he gave his speech in Tigrigna, his acknowledgement of the great sacrifices the people of Tigray made for Ethiopia, his analogy about “Ethiopia without Tigray being like a car without engine” and many other remarks were well accepted by almost every Tigrian.

However, this same speech was a bitter pill to swallow to chauvinists among the Amhara elites. They talked about how wrong he was to give speech in Tigrigna and that he gave too much credit to Tigray. These misgivings were reiterated in Gondar and Bahir Dar when ex-soldiers of the Dergue openly expressed their anger at the prime minister about his speech in Tigrai. The prime minister rebuked them harshly and continued his message of forgiveness and togetherness.

Walking the talk

The country has miraculously enjoyed peace since Abiy was elected as the chairman of the EPRDF. At a Peace Festival held at Sheraton Addis, Abba Gedaa Beyene Senbeto openly talked about the dangers that would have followed if an OPDO chairman were not elected as the prime minister. Such talks and the immediate calm that followed after Abiy’s election raise many questions about what the role of OPDO was in the protests.

Abiy has so far travelled to four neighboring countrie and is scheduled to travel to Egypt soon. During his travel to the four countries, he has secured freedom for thousands of Ethiopians imprisoned in these countries. This is one of his greatest achievements as a prime minister so far and he deserves utmost appreciation for that. The hope is that he continues to use his position for the freedom of many other Ethiopians languishing in foreign jails.

Abiy has also pardoned many high-profile imprisoned corrupt officials, business people with criminal business dealings and terrorists. For someone who closely follows what is going on in the country, it looks like; Abiy is leading the country as a pastor treating his subjects as members of a congregation. For example, the recent speech he gave on the May 28 national day urging people to spend the day visiting patients and meditating to look inside themselves feels like it was a speech given by a religious leader on a religious holiday.

Pardoning prisoners may be good, but pardoning individuals with serious criminal background without any due process sets a dangerous precedent. If all criminals in prison are pardoned, how is anyone going to justify jailing any criminal anymore? Does this mean Abiy’s government is not going to crackdown on corruption and terrorism? Abiy told his cabinet members that his government was investigating foreign bank accounts of appointees. Was this an empty bravado?

Besides, the pardoning process seems to be carried out with the direct order of the Prime Minister that does not involve the parliament. Some of the individuals who are being freed were members of what the parliament labeled as terrorist organizations. Even worse, some of them have killed innocent citizens and law enforcement individuals. Is the prime minister following all legal procedures when he bypasses the parliament’s decision and frees terrorists? If that is the case, are we marching towards an era of dictatorship?

Worrying signs

As of now, Abiy enjoys huge support among the Ethiopian people. Whatever decisions he makes, whatever actions he takes, they seem to garner a wide range of support from the population. Those who are opposed to some of his actions for justifiable reasons are silent for fear of angering the majority of the people. Therefore, if Abiy has the will, he can as well claim himself a dictator and no one seems to have the courage or the chance to stop him.

Dictatorship started in the ancient times in the Roman Republic. During those times, dictatorship did not have the negative connotation it has today. In the Roman Republic, political office was always shared with a colleague.

This principle was used to safeguard the political system against anyone who may want to make himself a king. Whenever the Romans  faced a crisis that needed making big decisions, they resorted to their institution of dictatorship where the Roman Senate would nominate a dictator for a short term and the dictator would have all the freedom to make the big decisions on his own, not in a committee. Dictatorship was later abused by some leaders and gained the bad reputation it enjoys today.

Parallels can be drawn between the Roman Republic’s shared-administration approach and EPRDF’s ‘collective leadership’. Similarly, we may make a comparison of the Roman Republic’s failed dictatorship institution with the way the EPRDF government is mutating itself under Abiy.

Traditionally, EPRDF ruled the country based what it called ‘collective leadership’. Most of the important decisions the EPRDF government passed in the past, including the Ethio-Eritrea border war, were made after consensus was reached by the EPRDF leadership. That tradition seems to have completely been ignored after Abiy’s ascendancy.

He seems to follow his personal decisions when he assigns individuals to ministerial and other key posts in his government. His decision to pardon imprisoned individuals without consulting the parliament also seems contrary to EPRDF’s traditions. The phony and patronizing lecture he gave to his cabinet and his claim that as seven years old boy his mother told him he was going to be the 7th king of Ethiopia all point to signs of dictatorship.

As stated above, dictatorship on its own may not be bad; especially if the leader is an able one who would want to use his leadership for the good of his people. However, dictatorship can be acceptable, if it has to be, only till the dictator “clean up the mess”. Abiy has neither the required skills nor any clear agenda to make a ‘good dictator’.

The road ahead

Abiy’s messages of hope, forgiveness and new beginnings have served their intended purpose – bringing temporary peace. How long-lasting will the peace be depends on how effectively Abiy translates his promises to practice. His administration is facing daunting challenges that require immediate attention. Revamping the economic slowdown, solving the acute shortage of hard currency, the Ethio-Eritrea border problem, resolving border issues between regional states and solving good governance challenges are some of the many problems Abiy’s government needs to practically solve.

The ODF leadership, that includes the legendary Lencho Leta and Dima Negewo, has returned to Ethiopia in response to a call from OPDO. Today, more than any other time, the Oromo elites seem to have a unified agenda – making sure Oromia plays its deserved role in the country’s fate.

Though many Oromo elites express their reservations about Abiy’s appointment as a prime minister citing his phoniness and him being an impostor, they prefer to say nothing negative about him in public. Abiy has assigned people from OPDO to almost all the key posts in the government. Now that he has the necessary popular support and the required political tools at hand, he can use them to solve some of the big “Oromo-questions”.

One key “Oromo questions” is the contentious question of making Oromifa the official working language of the country. The other equally contentious question is guaranteeing the state of Oromia’s special interest in Addis Ababa. Unless Abiy provides a satisfying response at least to these two questions, he will soon lose the support and legitimacy he enjoys among many Oromo elites.

However, trying to solve these same questions are going to cause Abiy and OPDO to lock horns with ANDM in particular and the Amhara elites in general. That will be the end of the superficial alliance between some individuals at ANDM and the populist leadership of OPDO against an unnamed third-party. My fear is that such a breakup between the two parties that represent more than 60% of the country’s population may open pandora’s box  bringing the country back to another turmoil.

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* The writer, Teklemariam T. Tesfay (PhD), is a postdoctoral fellow at Arizona State university, USA, and can be reached at [email protected]

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Articles featured Humanitarian Tigrai

Refugees in Ethiopia; Facts and Figures

(Abel G.)

According to ‘Ethiopia Country Refugee Response Plan” document, published by December 2018, Ethiopia has been hosting refugees according to its agreement to regional and international conventions. Refugees from Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia are the once marked bigger number sheltered in Ethiopia. Those refugees, hundreds of thousands in number, are living in camps of Tigrai and the other four emerging regions of the country. In this short summery of the aforementioned document, facts and figures related with the living conditions of the refugees, refuges population planning, response strategies and priorities outfitted with facts and figures of related issues are presented.

The main problem of migration of refugees in Ethiopia is as a result of insecurity, political instability, military conscription, conflict, famine and other problems. Accordingly the country has hosted 892,555 refuges at the start of 2018. This number makes Ethiopia the second refugees’ asylum country in Africa and among the biggest world-wide. And the majority of those refugees are hosted in Tgrai regional state with alarmingly increasing number in all camps of the country. Again, civil war in Sudan, instability in Eritrea and famine in Somalia are still contributing factors for that. Hence, the document mentioned that;

“The South Sudanese are the largest refugee population in Ethiopia, totalling 421,867 persons at the close of 2017. Renewed violence in Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity States; that increasingly impacted border areas, has resulted in 75,447 new arrivals seeking asylum in 2017. The majority were accommodated through the expansion of Nguenyyiel Camp in the Gambella Region, and in Gure Shembola Camp established in May 2017 in the Beneshangul Gumuz Region. Somalis constitute 28.3 percent of registered refugees, with 6,696 new arrivals during 2017, contributing to a total population of 253,889 individuals. Fleeing generalized instability and a third failed harvest, families were subsequently accommodated across five camps within the Somali region. The Eritrean caseload comprised 164,668 individuals at the end of the year, with 25,265 new arrivals received within the Shire and Afar Regions. Ethiopia also hosts an additional caseload of 52,131 Country Overview – ETHIOPIA RRP 6 ETHIOPIA – COUNTRY RRP > JANUARY-DECEMBER 2017 individuals drawn from across the wider region; including from Sudan (44,386), Yemen (1,771), and other countries” (page 5-6)

There has been an attempt made by the government of Ethiopia to find ways of handling this booming number of refugees including by launching Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). This framework is considered as one of the transforming agendas of the issue. To realize the framework’s agenda different interventions has made in all refugee camps of the country. This intervention has also its own strategy. The main concepts of the strategy are enhancing well being of refugees in all camps including ensuring their lives and peaceful coexistence.

As per the strategy, the intervention includes Biometric Information Management System, Out of Camp Policy, Cash Based Intervention and Security Interventions. All mechanisms are measured according to UN standards. Moreover, those interventions are with sector-specific needs, strategies and objectives. For example under ‘protection’ special focus has given to children, sexual and gender-based violence. The same is goes to access to health and education. Food, shelter and suitable environment in general are parts of these response strategies.

One fact that is boldly pointed out is that those all response mechanisms and the alarmingly increasing rate of refugees are incompatibly matched. Because, this is happening in one of the poor countries of the world; Ethiopia. Now at hand, for refugees only from Eritrea, S.Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and Urban and other Refugees, 618, 514, 146 amount of money is needed for protection, education, food, Health and nutrition, Livelihoods and Environment, Shelter and Wash. To realize the strategy, the government of Ethiopia is working with 50 operational partners including those of commissioning by the UN.

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Categories
Articles Politics Somaliland

Somaliland Commemorates its 27th Anniversary of Independence

The state of Somaliland celebrated its 27th independence anniversary in 2018 from Somalia on Tuesday in the capital, Hargeisa.

A massive celebration was held across the regional cities of Somaliland to mark the separation of Somaliland from Somalia 1991.

Different Somaliland Forces, Police, Custodial, Marine and other ancillary corps, civil society organizations and private businesses marched through city.

The event was led by the president Muse Bihi Abdi who was flanked by speakers of the two houses of parliament, government officials, former presidents and vice-presidents, leaders from opposition political parties, foreign delegations and citizens of Somaliland.

It is only country that deserves for an international recognition after surviving years of diplomatic isolation by international community. It has been exercising self-governance unlike Somalia in the last 27 years. With 5 million of its population, Somaliland have its own flag, currency, and legal system of a government that has been appreciated for holding credible election with a peaceful power transfer since 1991.

Photo - Military parade at Somaliland independence day, Hargeisa, May 2018
Photo – Military parade at Somaliland independence day, Hargeisa, May 2018

Somaliland has made history in 2017 as the first country to use the iris biometric voting system. The government put forward the celebrations for the national to May 15th, 2018, three days ahead of the anniversary date (May 18) before starting the holy fasting month of Ramadan. Thousands of people wrapping in Somaliland’s flags took to the streets to attend the event in Hargeisa and other regional cities.

Intended to destabilize the celebrations, Puntland waged war in three areas near Tukaraq in Sool region where heavy fighting began yesterday but stopped shortly today. Somaliland chief of armed forces, Nuh Ismail Tani has accused Puntland to have attacked Somaliland forces that were in full control of Tukaraq town in the recent months to disrupt the commemorations but Somaliland has defended its territory and people as stated by the army chief.

In his address during the Somaliland National Day, president Muse Bihi Abdi accused the federal government of being behind the incursions. “They attacked us, we defended them and took weapons stating that Somaliland had been attacked times in the past, adding that if Somalia wants war, Somaliland is ready and it will teach them the lesson that we taught Afweyne, Siyad Barre, the dictator leader” Bihi threatened.

In the meantime, the president called for self-resilience and solidarity for all Somalilanders amid the Somali aggression to Somaliland is intensifying. The president stated Somaliland is trying to keep the peace and stability in the region but underlined that Somalilanders will not hold their hands back if attacked. The recent fighting comes after the UN Special representative for Somalia met with Somaliland president Muse Bihi Abdi and Puntland leader who spoke together to protect the peace and stability in Tukaraq.

In his speech, the president addressed many successful issues including national building, periodic elections and peaceful transfer of power that Somaliland achieved in the past 27 years without recognition. Underlying that Somaliland is a national entity, the president has already stated that they have completed international requirements for recognition and called for the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, IGAD and the Arab League to endorse Somaliland’s recognition without any preconditions.

He finally thanked all Somalilanders to come out and mark this national day. However, 27 years later, Somaliland is still not recognized by the international community – even though the country fulfills virtually all international criteria which are usually deemed essential for being regarded as a state.

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Categories
Articles Business Health Religion

Eating right and keeping well during Ramadan: An expert guide

Academics and students at Birmingham City University have joined forces to come up with a guide on hydration and food tips to support Muslims who are fasting for the month of Ramadan.

The month of Ramadan begins on May 17 and will see a large number of Muslims across the world observing a month of fasting during daylight hours, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The month teaches observers self-discipline and awareness of those living in poverty. Those fasting cannot eat or drink during daylight hours until the sun sets and cannot even drink water.

When fasting, we often don’t think about how to make small steps to better impact our body functions and vital systems during the day. Hunger and starvation make our bodies crave things that may not necessarily feed our systems in a good way when the time comes to eat and drink again. Experts at Birmingham City University have joined forces to work on a guide on what to eat and drink, and how to balance a good routine to support your wellbeing throughout Ramadan.

Lots of protein and avoid salt at Suhr time

For the pre-dawn meal, more commonly known as Suhur, experts recommend eating foods that will provide the s  body with energy to last a good few hours. It’s important to focus on slow-digesting foods like high protein and high fibre. Some great examples of these are oats, and whole wheat foods like barley, brown rice, buckwheat and whole wheat bread or pasta.

During Ramadan, people who are fasting cannot drink anything at all, not even water. When preparing meals for Suhur, it is really important to make sure you avoid having too much salt because this makes you thirsty throughout the day. On days where the temperatures are high, this is definitely something you want to avoid.

During the hours before dawn, it’s also crucial to get enough liquids in your system before heading back to bed. If you sleep before Suhur, your body will be slightly dehydrated after sleep, so make sure you drink as much water as you can pre-sunrise. Drinking water will flush out toxins before a meal, and boost your energy for the day ahead.

For all the tea and coffee lovers out there, caffeinated drinks contain water, so can contribute to your daily fluid intake, but be aware that they have diuretic effect. This means that it can increase your body’s production of urine, which can lead to dehydration. Tea and coffee also contain tannin, a chemical that blocks the pores of cells and can cause dry skin. So limit your tea and coffee and drink more water instead.

Image - Ramadan, diet and health guide
Image – Ramadan, diet and health guide

Iftaar time is for water, dates and well-balanced meals

Iftaar is the name given to the post-dusk meal, and is specifically timed each day to the exact minute that the sun sets.

Drink as much water as you can once the time comes to eat and drink again. Your body craves liquid nourishment more than solid foods so use this time to make sure you have at least two litres of water during night-time hours.

It is traditional for Muslims to open their Fast with a date, which has scientific benefits. Energy-rich foods with natural sugars are a great way to provide fast-releasing energy to the system. Things like raw fruit, particularly dates and even fruit juices, are perfect for this.

When it comes to meals it is really important that they comprise of a good balance of starchy carbohydrates, like potatoes, rice and bread, along with a good intake of vegetables, proteins such as meat or fish, and dairy for the natural fats. There is only a small window to provide your body with all the key nutrients that the body needs, so the focus of diet during Ramadan needs to be on quality.

Though the temptation may be great at times, when the time to eat comes around each day it’s important to avoid high quantities of processed foods and those with added sugars because they have a relatively low nutrient density. This means that you won’t be feeding your system enough nutrients.

Opt for complex carbohydrates such as oats, rye, barley, brown rice, quinoa, berries, apples and oranges, which have a low glycemic index and do not spike blood sugars.

Fitness and fasting can work together

Fasting and keeping fit can go hand in hand. One common question that gets asked is if you can work out or exercise during Ramadan. The answer is yes but you have to plan it accordingly. It’s vital to remember that your body won’t have the same amount of energy that you would have on a normal day.

As at any other time, people should try to maintain active lifestyles where possible. Try to do light exercise like walking and meditative exercises in any spare time you have; this can help to keep the system working and blood circulating.

Step outside, cycle, play a game, go to the gym for a light workout session, or do some gardening. Even helping out in the kitchen would be better than just sitting down and waiting for the Iftaar time, or at least do something that keeps you moving and that you enjoy.

Cardiovascular exercises like walking and cycling, full body stretching and mat exercises are great at helping to burn calories and improve stamina.

Avoid high intensity exercises like sprinting or heavy lifting as this could cause injury and lead to dizziness and low blood pressure, and you could end up feeling weak or sick.

If you exercise within eating times, make sure you have allowed enough time for food to be digested before you exercise and that you drink plenty of water during Iftaar and Suhur times. Keep workouts short to between 30-60 minutes.

Think about the alternatives

Swap the deep fried food such as pakoras and samosas for healthier alternatives like having them baked and using less whole spices. Similarly with sugary goods like doughnuts, ice cream and cakes, you can swap them with things like fruit salads and yoghurts.

Avoid cooking methods like frying and deep frying and swap it for methods like baking or grilling and even light frying. For curries it is useful to cook with a larger base of tomatoes and onions and less oil.

Student advice: Keep energised without water and snacks

When fasting, it can make it hard to do things normally. This year Ramadan runs during exam season, so here’s some tips for students that can help you feel a bit more energised during the day when you’re trying to revise or get through an exam:

* It’s important to plan what you’re going to be eating in Suhur and Iftaar. What you eat has an impact on your energy levels and it’s important to consume the right amount of carbs, protein, fruits, vegetables and plenty of water. Planning what you will eat each day will have an impact on how alert you feel during the daytime

* Make your lunch breaks productive. You know you have a lunch break but you can’t eat or drink anything. Avoid working through your lunch and do things like go out for a walk and get a fresh air, take prayer breaks, or take a nap. Make a daily to-do list and write down what you’re finding challenging, and plan what to do to combat them efficiently.

* There’s nothing wrong with planning a few breaks in your day. Taking regular breaks increases productivity at Ramadan or any other time of the year. Plan your day and add a few breaks into your working day which will help you reduce stress, refresh your attention, and reduce the risk of on-job accidents, and keep you focused and on schedule. In turn, this will increase productivity as well as keeping you fresh throughout the day.

* You can also try multivitamins, which are great for giving your body all the necessary nutrients. You can take multivitamins during Iftaar or Suhur, but just make sure it contains 1,000 IU of vitamin D and at least 500mg of omega-3s.

* Do not skip the Suhur meal. Some people do this to keep up with sleep but you will need the energy from this meal to help you throughout the day.

* Eat your food slowly during the times that you can eat and drink. This makes the energy of the food release a bit slower in your system so you’re energised for longer.

The guide was put together by Dr Huda Al-KatebDr Matt Cole and Ayaz Safi from the Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences

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Source: Birmingham University

Categories
African Union Articles Politics Somaliland

Somaliland, A nation that deserves International Recognition

Somaliland is a country that had been a stable and independent state from Somalia in the past 27 years after gaining its independence on 18th May 1991. In May this year, Somaliland continues to protest its legitimacy as an existing nation forward to show the world that it is the only nation in the Horn of Africa deserving for an international recognition. Being a peaceful and a stable country, Somaliland elected its fifth president calmly in 2017, While Somalia is known as a country that was once on the center of world attention but now became a failed state of No-2- according to the Fund for Peace’s Fragile States Index of 2018.

However, Somaliland is different from that and has created a haven of stability and self-governance though the international community is still ignoring Somaliland phenomenon in the Horn of Africa since it is doing better than other parts of Somalia.  Let me say, talks or no talks with Somalia, Somaliland sovereignty is neither for dialogue nor compromise.  Getting ready for marking 18 May independence, the Organizing Committee led by the vice president of Somaliland, His excellence, Abdurrahman Abdilahi Ismail (Saylici), announced that the current celebrations for independence will coincide with the holy month of Ramadan but was put forward on 15 May, 2018.  The slogan of this year is “THE SELF-RELIANCE AND SOLIDARITY FOR ALL SOMALILANDERS, IS WHAT A NATION COULD GO FORWARD”.

Photo - Women dressed in Somaliland flag
Photo – Women dressed in Somaliland flag

The people of the Republic of Somaliland have been doing preparations for this day in the last two weeks and are now ready to show the world how they are jubilant over their sovereign state to be recognized by the world and support the government decision that they wouldn’t be back to Somaliland.  Speaking at the meeting of the organizing committee at the presidential palace, the vice-president called on the people of Somaliland to come out for marking 18 May of this year and asked the opposition parties to concentrate on nation building. Following government message, all people prepared themselves to tailor Somaliland flags which made the tailoring and printing businesses to be busy.  

Many believe that the fruitful elections instigated Somaliland to be living peaceful with neighboring countries and the latest presidential election in 2017 bolstered the case for independence and showed the world countries that it has the right to be recognized as an independent state from Somalia. In other words, many international diplomatic individuals from the different states in the world expressed good feeling for Somaliland democratization process and said that Somaliland could have been rewarded for what they have done including the peace and tranquility, they established in an unstable region.

Although world is ignoring to Somaliland demand for recognition, but now the political international arena is changing. For this purpose, Somaliland should strengthen its foreign policy in the United States and Russia, the two of the world’s leading powers that if one of them decide to recognize Somaliland and then all others will follow the suit,  since many, including the African Union argue that recognizing Somaliland as an independent state could bring turmoil to the region could be realized as a mistaken idea but they should support that Somaliland and Somalia could be two independent countries from one other that can help with each other in fighting against terrorism, piracy and insecurity in the region.

In nut shell, Somaliland government and its people should remember their past and continue fighting for recognition due to the recent changes in the international political arena that created an inspiring hope for Somaliland’s statehood.  I would like to pass my wishes to all Somaliland citizens at home and abroad for marking the 27th Anniversary of 18 May independence day.  I call for all Somalilanders and followers to mark the celebrations of this day in a peaceful situation.

May ALLAH bless and care for Somaliland people and their government.

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Categories
Articles Ethiopian-Somali region Politics

Photo Essay: Thousands of Ethio-Somalis rally in support of the regional administration and unity

In late April 2018, small and sporadic anti-government demonstrations surfaced in the Siti Zone of the Somali Region.

The anti-government protests were unarguably isolated and insignificant, as the rallies were conspuciously clan-oriented than political-reform based.

Discussions followed the surfacing of images of these unusual anti-government protests in Siti Zone.

These conversations, shortly after, resulted in one of the largest series of counter-demonstrations witnessed in the Somali Region.

Men, women, youth, government employees, businesspersons, students, elders, clansmen, educators, religious clerks, artists and, overall, the general population organized themselves to send an unignorable message to the regional and federal government, fellow community members and the world.

The message: We are in support of President Abdi M. Omar, the Ethiopian Somali People’s Democratic Party (ESPDP), the current status of development, unity and security – and nothing can change it.

Below are some of the powerful photos taken these past few days:

(Click on the photos to start slideshow or browse through the photos)

 

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Categories
Abiy Ahmed Articles Ethiopia Politics

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Shows Knack for Balancing Reform and Continuity

(Ahmed Soliman Chathamhouse)

After a turbulent three years for Ethiopia, including large-scale anti-government protests, new prime minister Dr Abiy Ahmed is likely to enjoy a honeymoon period – and seems early on to have persuaded many he can bring stability, unity and reform to the country.

Abiy – an Oromo leader in his early 40s with a mixed ethnic and religious background – is now the youngest leader of any African country, and heads up one of the four ethnically-based constituent parties, the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO).

He faces significant long-term obstacles that will need to be confronted, and the pace of change will create tensions and significant resistance, especially considering Dr Abiy’s rise was partially a direct response to the popular protests which have gripped Ethiopia since 2014, particularly in the Oromia and Amhara regions, which account for almost 60 per cent of the population.

Secretive and complex alliance-building

But despite the popular pressure, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) went to great lengths to ensure a formal selection process after the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn in February, involving secretive and complex alliance-building among the four coalition parties.

Dr Abiy was a wildcard candidate, but won the eventual election comfortably – with 108 votes out of 180 – after the last-minute withdrawal of deputy prime minister Demeke Mekkonen. Although subsequently framed by Demeke as being in the national good, his calculation was based on several factors, the most important being that senior members of his Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM) explained that he would not remain as deputy prime minister if he lost the leadership contest. Abiy’s ascension was enhanced by an alliance between OPDO and ANDM which has contributed significantly to the diminishing influence of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the dominant member of the coalition since its inception in the late 80s.

Building a national constituency base

The prime minister reigns over both a divided country and political party and needs to expand his support base to shore up authority and implement national reforms. He will face challenges from elites within the EPRDF who resisted Abiy’s election (mostly TPLF old guard) who see him as a threat to their power base, but also from ethno-nationalists and opposition groups (Oromo, Amhara and others) who believe the OPDO hijacked the grassroots social movement.

Abiy undertook a nationwide reconciliation tour in the first month of his premiership, visiting the Ethio-Somali, Oromia, Tigray, Amhara and Southern Nations regions, and delivering a message of forgiveness and unity in three languages, Afaan Oromo, Tigrigna and Amharic. Despite his rise to power through an ethno-nationalist movement, Dr Abiy’s message was aimed at all Ethiopians and was strongly against ethnic targeting and displacement. This has undoubtedly increased his support among the urban-based elite.

In addition, the prime minister’s first government is carefully balanced, taking into account existing institutional and ethnic dynamics within the EPRDF, although OPDO do hold a number of important positions including the president, prime minister, foreign minister, defence minister, revenue and customs authority and attorney general.

Dr Abiy’s main challenger in the election, Shiferaw Shigute, has moved to the ministry of agriculture and livestock from the EPRDF secretariat, which is perceived as a demotion. And his replacement, in a government criticised for having too few women, is Fetlework Gebre-egziabher (deputy chair of the TPLF). Another notable appointment is Muferiyat Kamil, the first female speaker of the national parliament in Ethiopia’s history.

Security sector and governance reform

Dr Abiy needs to balance pragmatic power politics with protecting and building consensus, most acutely in the security sector, parastatals and wider governance structures. Oromos now make up a majority on the National Security Council, which gives OPDO significant influence, including deciding when to lift the six-month state of emergency which was re-imposed in February, and opposed by many Oromo MPs.

Dr Abiy does understand the workings of the military-intelligence complex, having served in both the armed forces and the Ethiopian Information Network Security Agency (INSA). Significantly, he has swiftly rebalanced the leadership of INSA and the Metals and Engineering Corporation (the colossal state-owned industrial company run by the military). Their Tigrayan directors have been replaced by civilian directors from other regions, heading off attempts to undermine the new dispensation.

After much speculation, the chief of staff of the Ethiopian National Defence Forces, General Samora Yunis, and Getachew Assefa, the director general of military intelligence, both Tigrayans, retained their positions (though suggestions are Samora could still leave soon). Over the last two decades there has been insufficient effort to ensure the leadership of the security institutions reflects Ethiopia’s diversity. But affirmative action has been taken more recently, ensuring the military and intelligence have deputy directors from different regions – assertive moves that indicate Dr Abiy understands the delicate challenge of balancing continuity and change within Ethiopia’s security state.

The government has also embarked on several reforms, such as closing the infamous Maekelawi prison, restoring mobile internet in the regions, releasing thousands of political prisoners (some after having been re-arrested), plus allowing opposition leaders to travel and including them in discussions about reforms.

Local elections have been delayed until September to give the government time to settle, remove the state of emergency and implement electoral changes. But parliament has already agreed reforms on the autonomy of the election board, election management practices and to include partial proportional representation.

Abiy Ahmed has met with parties from outside the EPRDF and national elections in 2020 could see a broadened political space, with the inclusion of national and ethno-national opposition parties, and debate on fundamental questions of federalism, economic development, the security sector and establishment of the rule of law. But, while popular, such a political opening would bring significant challenges.

More fundamentally, Dr Abiy has to meet demands for more equitable federalism and autonomy among Ethiopia’s ethnic mosaic, while also protecting the nationally planned and controlled industrialization and infrastructure projects that fuelled Ethiopia’s decade-long 8-10 per cent GDP growth and status as the fastest growing economy in Africa.

Opening up the EPRDF-dominated system may result in demands for greater freedom from marginalized regions – including direct control of development and industrialization policy. But the consensus around ideologies of ‘democratic centralism’ and the ‘developmental state’ that have shaped the EPRDF’s vision for the future may be threatened should its coalition weaken.

The new prime minister’s main task is to unify the members of his coalition and the wider country through inclusive leadership, and balancing reform with consensus-building. In the long-term, much depends on his government’s vision, and whether Dr Abiy can convince members of the EPRDF it is possible to change the country’s governance structures and political economy while renewing a commitment to the party’s national development goals.

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Categories
Abiy Ahmed Articles Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn Politics

The Authenticity of the Premier Medal and Diploma Award: Legal Point of View

(Zeray Weldesenbet)

On April 24, 2018, the Ethiopian Television (ETV) broadcasted that the incumbent prime minister of Ethiopia has, in his official capacity, awarded the highest fully gold made Medal of Distinguished Labor to the then Commander-in-chief of the National Armed Forces of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, along with Highest Diploma of Honor for his dedicated service autographed by the current Commander-in-Chief of the National Armed Forces at a farewell ceremony held at the national palace.

In addition, it has also broadcasted that he has granted wholly gold made Medal of Honor to the former first lady of Ethiopia, Roman Tesfaye, for her tangible contribution in the social sector either and Diploma of Honor, for her contribution to the success of the former premier Hailemariam Desalegn, autographed by the current prime minister.

The prime minister might be awarded them actually assuming that he has constitutional/legal mandate to grant medals and certificates both to the ex- Commander-in-chief of the National Armed Forces of Ethiopia and former first lady of Ethiopia. However such assumption does not offer a sounder constitutional and/or legal basis for the authority to award any medal and certificate.

 

Since any power exists in the Constitution only if it expressly stated in the text of the Constitution, in other words, such genuine opinion/perception cannot be a legal ground for granting the award. This event motivated me to question and write whether the incumbent prime minister of Ethiopia has constitutional and/or legal authority to award, by himself, any Medal and Diploma.

Besides, the Cross Medal given to the wife of the former prime minister is also worthy of discussion here. The Medal of Honor awarded to the ex- first lady has an apparently conspicuous Cross in it, which is the well-known symbol of Christianity. Under FDRE Constitution, however, the government and religion should be separated .

On the other hand, the State, through its premier, has awarded Medal, which has plainly eye-catching big Cross within its contents. This occasion also prompted me to ask whether the prime minister action, with regard to the shape and content of the Medal given to the former first lady, was against secularism/neutrality fundamental principle in the FDRE Constitution. Having said this, first let us see whether the present prime minister of Ethiopia has constitutional and/or legal authority to award, by himself, any medal, prize, and gift.

Looking at the FDRE Constitution we find provisions dealing with the medals, prizes, and gifts award. Article 74(10) of the FDRE Constitution reads:

“In accordance with law enacted or decision adopted by the House of Peoples Representatives, he recommends to the president nominees for the award medals, prizes, and gifts. (Emphasis added)

Article 71(5) of the FDRE Constitution reads:

“He (the President) shall award medals, prizes, and gifts in accordance with conditions and procedures established by law.” (Emphasis added)

In understanding any law, first it is a must to decide the meaning of its each and every word. The very interpreting of a legal provision requires that its meaning be limited to its specific text. In an effort to grasp the essence of the terms medal, prize, and gift,” I will attempt to reflect on the meaning of the term medal, prize, and gift.

In its ordinary meaning, medal mean a stamped or cast metal object (usually a disc), particularly one awarded as a prize or reward. In its ordinary meaning, prize mean an honor or reward striven for in a competitive contest; anything offered to be competed for, or as an inducement to, or reward effort. It also means a prize or other mark of recognition given in honor of an achievement.

In its ordinary meaning, gift mean something given to another without charge; donation. Medals, prizes, and gifts are all about recognition of excellence in a certain field. Then, we will now take a closer look at the power of the prime minister at the Constitution and other laws regarding award.

As anyone can or should see from article 74(10) of the FDRE Constitution, the incumbent prime minister, be it as the chief of executive, be it as the Commander-in-Chief of the National Armed Forces, and as it the chairman of the Council of Ministers, does not have constitutional authority to award any medal, prize, and gift both to the members of the National Armed Forces and civilians. It is clearer when we read articles 74(10) and 71(5) of the FDRE Constitution together.

Further, there is no provision of the subordinate laws concerning the prime minister’s authority to award any medal, prize, and gift. The subject in question should be seen in accordance with Proclamation No 809/2013 and other relevant laws since the then premier was member of the armed forces; a commander- in-chief of the National Armed Forces of Ethiopia.

As per article 2(1) and (4) of proclamation number 809/2013, he was member of armed forces; a commander- in-chief of the National Armed Forces of Ethiopia. Chapter six of this proclamation exclusively deals with Medals, Ribbon and certificate and privileges of awardees. But he does not have legal mandate to grant Medals and Diplomas under proclamation number 809/2013 /2/ and other relevant legislations.

Under article 48(1) of proclamation number 809/2013, the Medal of the victory of Adwa is Highest Award. Such Medal may be bestowed upon an Ethiopian individual, military unit or group that has performed unparalleled feats of bravery in battlefield according to article 49(1) proclamation number 809/2013.

Hence, the Medal of Honor, seemingly for his distinguished labor during his five years premiership tenure, awarded to the ex- Commander-in-chief of the National Armed Forces of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, is not the Highest Medal under the governing relevant law of the country. Thus, the premier, on his official capacity, cannot grant any medal, prize, and gift to anyone whatsoever under the FDRE Constitution3 . But he can award, on his private capacity, any medals, prizes, and gifts to anyone under his pleasure.

Nevertheless, the prime minister has the constitutional authority to recommend to the president nominees for the award medals, prizes, and gifts. Even he can propose and submit to the president nominees for the award medals, prizes, and gifts only in accordance with the law enacted or decision adopted by the House of Peoples Representatives. In other words, he cannot recommend to the president nominees for the award medals, prizes, and gifts at his will. The legislation enacted or decision adopted by the House of Peoples Representatives may determine the conditions and procedures for the recommendation to the president candidates for the award medals, prizes, and gifts.

In general, the incumbent prime minister has the constitutional mandate to commend and put forward to the president nominees for the award medals, prizes, and gifts in accordance with the conditions and procedures determined by law or by the House of Peoples Representatives.

The next question would be: whether the prime minister, absent a legal provision expressly granting him the power to award medals, prizes, and gifts, can award medals, prizes, and gifts thereon. Article 74(12) of the Constitution states that the prime minister shall discharge all responsibilities entrusted to him by this Constitution and other laws. As per this provision, the sources of the prime minister Powers and functions are only the FDRE Constitution and subordinate laws.

He shall discharge only those powers and responsibilities under the law. Article 9(2) of FDRE Constitution also imposes upon all citizens; organs of state, political organizations, other associations, as well as their officials have the duty to ensure the observance of the Constitution and to obey it. Thus, our system requires public officials, including the prime minister, to justify their actions as authorized by law as when they take decisions or actions.

The principle that demands a legal basis before taking any action is called legality. The aim of this principle is to prevent arbitrary decisions and actions of officials, including the prime minister. So long as there is a legal basis for the taking of action, the requirement of principle of legality is observed. Otherwise, it is infringed.

As a result, the prime minister himself is required to act within the scope of his constitutional and statutory authorization. In other words, he could not go beyond the constitutional and statutory authorization.

Therefore, the prime minister cannot, absent a statutory provision expressly granting him award power and delimiting its scope, award Medals, Prizes, and Gifts. If the prime minister doesn’t have the authority to award medals, prizes, and gifts, who else may possess the mandate to award medals, prizes, and gifts under the Constitution and subordinate laws?

As per article 71(5) of the FDRE Constitution, the incumbent president of the country has the constitutional power to grant medals, prizes, and gifts both to any member of the National Armed Forces and civilian. When we read article 71(5) and 74(12) of the FDRE Constitution jointly, it is clear the president has the exclusive constitutional power to grant medals, prizes, and gifts, while the premier has the authority to nominate and submit candidates for the award medals, prizes, and gifts to the president.

Even if he has the power to award medals, prizes, and gifts, he cannot give medals, prizes, and gifts under his pleasure. To put differently, he is under constitutional and legal obligation to award medals, prizes, and gifts in accordance with the conditions and procedures established by law.

Remember that the president cannot award, on his own motion, any medal, prize, and gift. Rather, he can award any medals, prizes, and gifts on the initiation of the prime minister through recommendation of candidates for the award medals, prizes, and gifts.

Next, we will consider whether the prime minister action, with regard to the shape and content of the Medal given to the former first lady, is against secularism/neutrality principle. Under the FDRE Constitution, State and religion are separate and there shall no state religion4. This neutrality clause requires the government to minimize the extent to which it either encourages or discourages religious belief or disbelief, practice or non-practice or observance or non-observance.

As a result, the government should be secular, as much as possible; religion should be entirely in the private realm of society. Hence, there should be a wall separating state and religion. On the other hand, the prime minister awarded Cross Medal to the former first lady; cross is the best known symbol of Christianity. To put in a different way, he has awarded Cross Medal to the ex- first lady. Now the question is whether the current prime minister action in this regards is against secularism/neutrality principle in the FDRE Constitution.

As noted above, the FDRE Constitution 5 says that the government must be neutral toward religion; that is, government cannot favor or endorse religion over secularism or one religion over others. But how do we measure whether the current prime minister action in this regard is against separation/ neutrality fundamental principle in the FDRE Constitution?

Several US Supreme Court justices have advanced a “symbolic endorsement test” in evaluating the neutrality of a government’s action 6. Under this approach, the government violates the secularism principle if it symbolically endorses or favors a particular religion or if it generally endorses either religion or secularism.

The “symbolic endorsement or favor of a particular religion exists if a reasonable person would perceive government support for religion. An informed member of the community will know how the cross in question has been used in the past. The government’s operation of a public forum has the effect of endorsing a particular religion, even if the government actor neither intends nor actively encourages that result, the secularism clause is violated.

The reasonable public official and observer must be deemed aware of the history and context of the community and forum in which the religious object appears and the general history of the place in which the cross is displayed. Any reasonable person will ask the overarching purpose of awarding Cross Medal of Honor to the former first lady when he sees it.

In other words, he may question: Is the cross used in the Medal just for its ornamental value/decoration? Or is it used for religious symbol either? Based on this standard, it seems to me that it is used as a symbol of Christianity. The purpose seemingly is an explicit or implicit backing or favoring of Christianity over others. No doubt it is used on purpose, having regarded the design of the Medal given to the former premier and its historical context, among others.

The Medal of Honor given to the former premier awarded did not have Cross in it. Consequently, any reasonable person may regard it as an endorsement of Christianity. So, Cross Medal must not be awarded medal because the reasonable observer would perceive it as an endorsement of Christianity. Otherwise, secularism is compromised.

Also, we must see it from the perspective of the perceptions of the peoples of the country. The “symbolic endorsement of a particular religion test should look to the perceptions of the peoples of the country with regard to the Cross. Many may assume that cross is a Christian symbol and peoples wearing it as a symbol/manifestation of Christianity. Cross is seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus, especially in Ethiopia. It is used not just for its ornamental value, but also with religious significance.

One can say that it is almost wholly used as a symbol of Christianity in Ethiopia, especially for orthodox Christianity. Many today, see it as a symbol of Christianity in Ethiopia. As a result, Christians often make the sign of the cross upon themselves. As a result, cross has become an integral part of Christians’ lifestyle.

Furthermore, the dinner ceremony was held at the National palace. Among others, various State Televisions and Radios were also repetitively broadcasted the ceremony. The religion of both the awardees and the awarder is Christianity. Ministers, regional state presidents, other higher government officials, ambassadors of different embassies and representatives of international organizations, religious leaders, and other invited guests as well as palace employees and officials have attended the farewell ceremony held at the National palace.

Having regarded these circumstances, it is symbolic favor of Christianity. The inclusion of the cross in the medal in very visible way obviously will send a clear message that religion or a particular religion belief or practice is favored, preferred, or right. Many may considered it as a symbolic endorsement/support or favoring of Christianity over others, and thereby he has infringed the secularism fundamental principle under the FDRE Constitution.

It would make those who are not part of the favored religion feel unwelcome. The prime minister should be aware of the likely perceptions of and reactions to his conduct in advance. Therefore, awarding Cross Medal, within the context of its history, usage, and Ethiopian society, is unconstitutional.

Let me say finally something about the merits of the recognitions in short. As to Hailemariam Desalegn, the new prime minister tried to portray the ex- premier as ‘innocent leader’ from corruption during his premiership. Dr. Abiy also praised Hailemariam Desalegn for the sustenance of the remarkable broad based economic growth that Ethiopia has witnessed for the last two decades. He said that Hailemariam is an exemplary leader for Ethiopia and Africa for his anti-corruption behavior.

Therefore, the Medal was awarded to the former premier seemingly both for his voluntary resignation from his office and for his alleged innocence from corruption during his premiership. With regard to the first reason for the recognition, how resignation could be an achievement in the political leadership?

Resignation from public responsibility could not be an achievement in the political leadership. It is not an achievement, rather failure. He himself would not deny this. Being corruption free political leader, even if it is true, could not be considered as an excellence. Let me justify the improperness of the recognition by way of a question: how short of a month serving premier measure the success of the former premier Hailemariam Desalegn?

As to Roman, it is said that the recognition was given both for her contribution in the social sector and for her contribution to the success of the former premier Hailemariam Desalegn. But there are no instances and proof that shows both her contribution in the social sector and to the success of the former premier Hailemariam Desalegn. The premier didn’t mention at least an instance of her contribution in the social sector. Since Hailemariam Desalegn was not successful during his premiership, moreover, it is impossible to say that she has contributed for his success. Thus, the recognition does not hold water.

Anyways, the recognition or honor award does not confer impunity/immunity privilege, from any legal liability, to both of them. Hence, they might face legal justice though they have been awarded Medals of Honor by the incumbent prime minister, if any.

Besides, a lot of government money spends for this inappropriate farewell dinner ceremony organized by the incumbent premier, even if he has officially instructed government officials not to use public resources extravagantly. To put it in a different way, the public resources seemingly were not used for the benefit of the general public of Ethiopia and in discharge of the responsibilities attendant to the office of the incumbent as well as in accordance with the budget of the office in question. So, these conducts of the public officer in question were seemingly abuse of incumbency.

In conclusion, the prime minister has awarded the medals without having authority under the FDRE Constitution and other relevant laws. In other words, he has awarded the Medals and Diplomas of Honor in contravention of the FDRE Constitution and other pertinent legislations.

Apart from this, the prime minister has also violated one of the fundamental principles of the FDRE Constitution, which is separation of state and religion, by awarding Cross Medal. The FDRE Constitution states that all citizens, organs of state, political organizations, other associations, as well as their officials have the duty to ensure the observance of the Constitution and to obey it7. Since organs of state and their officials have the duty to ensure the observance of the Constitution and to obey it, these actions of the government actor in question were official misconducts. Abuse of incumbency is the illegitimate or illegal use of public resources or powers for primarily partisan/private ends. Note that any public official is accountable for any failure in official duties.

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1/ FDER Constitution, article 11(2).

2/ The FDRE Defense Forces Proclamation No 809/2013.

3/ FDRE Constitution, articles 71(5) and 74(10).

4/ FDRE Constitution, article 11.

5/ FDRE Constitution, article 11(2).

6/ Erwin Chemerinsky, Constitutional Law: principles and Policies( Aspen publishers, third ed., 2006)pp.1189

7/ FDRE Constitution, article 9(2).

8/ FDRE Constitution, Article 9(2).

9/ FDRE Constitution, article 12(2)

Categories
Abiy Ahmed Articles Ethiopia Politics

Can the Prime Minister, by himself, Nominate ‘Persons’ for Candidacy for ‘Ministerial Posts’ for Approval to the Parliament under the FDRE Constitution?

(Zeray Weldesenbet)

Does the prime minister have the authority to select persons for candidacy for ‘ministerial posts’ to the House of Peoples Representatives for approval under the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Constitution? The question of the power to nominate/select candidates for ministerial positions to the House of Peoples Representatives for appointment into picture in tandem with the authority of the political party or a coalition of political parties that constitutes a majority in the House of Peoples Representatives to form the executive and lead it, to assume government power, and equitable representation right of Nations, nationalities or peoples in Ethiopia.The principal purpose for which this study is conducted is to examine whether the incumbent new prime minister of Ethiopia has constitutional authority to nominate/select, by himself, persons for candidacy for ministerial posts for approvalto the House of Peoples Representatives.

Nomination authority plays a significant role in the appointment of cabinet ministers. Nevertheless, nomination authority is an under-theorized and relatively unexamined as well as properly unanswered area of constitutional law in Ethiopia. A dearth of scholarship in an area of constitutional law makes it more that the area is basically sound. No one posed a question concerning the prime minister’s selection authority at all. No existed works focus on the premier’s nomination power. This article seeks to fill gaps in the literature, addressing questions long neglected and unanswered yet. In this note, I touched the subject in brief with the intention to provide a starting point than to provide complete solution. This note attempt to examine the issue in question based on the FDRE Constitution; it is only confined to constitutional analysis.

Before considering the role of the prime minister in the nomination and appointment of cabinet ministers for approval to the House of Peoples Representatives, let us first look at what some people think the prime minister does with regard to this matter. Many intuitively believe that the prime minister can nominate all executive officers. Some others may think that only the premier can nominate and submit cabinet members under the FDRE Constitution. In Ethiopia, usual practice till now is that the incumbent prime minister recommends and nominates persons for candidacy for ministerial posts for approval to the EPRDF executive committee and upon approval, the prime minister submits nominated persons for appointment to the House of Peoples Representatives.

But last wednesday’s nomination and appointment seems to me that a clear signal of the variation from the prevailing custom in this regards. This may happened due to the prevailing perception that the premier has the constitutional mandate to nominate cabinet ministers for approval to the parliament. For example, one facebook user posted on his page that “the PM (prime minister) is implementing the power given to him by Constitution. This is walk.” Many others also think that the incumbent prime minister himself that made the nominations of today’s appointees for ministerial posts. That’s initiate me to question and write whether the new prime minister of Ethiopia has constitutional power to nominate, by himself, persons for candidacy for ministerial posts for approval to the House of Peoples Representatives.

Looking at the FDRE Constitution we find provisions dealing with the nomination power and submission obligation of persons for ministerial posts for appointment to the parliament. Article 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution reads:

“The prime minister shall submit for approval to the House of Peoples Representatives nominees for ministerial posts from among members of the two Houses or from among persons who are not members of either House and possess the required qualifications.” (Emphasis added)

Article 56 of the FDRE Constitution reads:

“A political party or a coalition of political parties that has the greatest number of seats in the House of Peoples Representatives shall form the executive and lead it.” (Emphasis added)

Article 73(2) of the FDRE Constitution reads:

“’Power of government’ shall be assumed by the political party or a coalition of political parties that constitutes a majority in the House of Peoples Representatives.” (Emphasis added)

The pertinent constitutional provisions for the subject matter of this note are the above ones. And it seems to me appropriate to examine now whether article 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution empowers the prime minister to nominate cabinet ministers. Before seeing and examining this, it is apt to see some considerations of the constitution, which may help us in determining the meaning of article 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution.

The Constitution proclaimed in one effort in an attempt to state clearly and concisely the complete system. Thus one should never try to interpret a provision of the constitution in the abstract. It must always be examined in its relationship to the other provisions of the constitution The second implication which may be drawn from the Constitution’s internal consistency is that if the meaning of one provision of the constitution has been established or is clear, one can reason from the meaning of that provision to what ought to be the meaning of another. So, one must properly pay attention for patterns, for a structural framework, or for common features, which may help to elucidate the Constitution’s meaning.

The provisions of the constitution should be given the same meaning-that they should be interpreted consistently. Note that language usage throughout the Constitution is only a particular example of the overall assumption of consistency of the Constitution. What the assumption means is that if a particular word can be established to have a certain meaning when it is used at one point of the Constitution, it is at least likely to have the same meaning at any other point in that Constitution. Based on this understanding of the Constitution, let us see whether the prime minister has the constitutional authority to nominate candidates for ministerial positions for appointment to the parliament under the FDRE Constitution. Having said this, then we will see whether article 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution empowers the prime minister to nominate persons for cabinet ministers’ posts for approval to the legislative House.

As noted above, some may believe that in addition to his submission function, the prime minister has the constitutional authority to nominate candidates for ministerial posts under article 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution based on submission power argument. They may think that the word “submit” includes nomination either. They may argue that he can nominate them since he has the function to submit the list of nominees to the House. Others may instinctively think that the prime minister can nominate all executive officers whose appointment is required by law to be approved by the parliament. This claim is perhaps based on the intuition that the law-makers will grant selection authority only to the public officer meant to submit the nominees. This intuition does not apply to our constitutional system. To put it differently, this intuitive thought does not offer a sounder basis for nomination authority since a power is exist in the Constitution only if it expressly stated in the text of the Constitution.

Any law cannot be understood intuitively. Rather, an understanding of any constitutional/ legal provision first requires understanding / interpretation of each and every word or phrase of it. In applying any law, in other words, it is a must to decide the meaning of it. The very interpreting of a document requires that its meaning be limited to its specific text. In an effort to grasp the essence of the term “submit,” we will examine a number of its definitions. In its ordinary meaning, ‘submit’ means put forward.Black’s law dictionaries defined submit as “refer or propound.” The word ‘shall’ do not signify power, but rather duty.

Thus going by definition, the prime minister is under duty to put forward nominees for approval to the House. As one can or should comprehend, the wording of article 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution does not confer to the premier the power to select nominees for ministerial posts. In other words, going by definition, the prime minister cannot, by himself, select cabinet members for appointment. Its language does not relate to a power, something an official is entitled to do. Quite clearly, rather, it is meant to impose upon the premier an obligation, that is, the duty to submit” candidates/nominees for “ministerial positions” for appointment to the House of Peoples Representatives. Note that article 74 of the FDRE Constitution contained both powers and duties/functions of the prime minister. Based on this meaning of article 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution, the prime minister cannot, by himself, select cabinet ministers for support to the legislative House.

When we read articles 74(2) and 74(7) of the FDRE Constitution together, further, it is clearer that the word “submit” does not includes nomination. One should never try to interpret a constitutional provision in the abstract. Rather he must always examine a constitutional provision in its relationship to the other provision(s) of the constitution. Besides, the meaning of one provision of the constitution has been established or is clear, one can reason from the meaning of that provision to what ought to be the meaning of another. While article 74(7) of the FDRE Constitution grant the premier the power to “selects and submits for approval to the parliament nominations for posts of commissioners, the president and vice-president of federal Supreme Court and the Auditor General,” article 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution does not empower him selection/nomination power with regard to cabinet ministers. If the word ‘submits’ includes ‘selects’ under article 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution, the authors and framers of the Constitution would not include the word “selects” in article 74(7) of the FDRE Constitution. Under article 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution, the word “selects” refer to choose or opt, while “submits” means put forward. In general the reading of articles 74(7) and 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution informs us that prime minister has no constitutional mandate to nominate persons for candidacy for ministerial posts for approval before the House of Peoples Representatives. Thus, article 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution does not grant the prime minister the power to “selects” candidates for ministerial posts” for endorsement to the House of Peoples Representatives.

Moreover, article 81(2) of the FDRE Constitution stipulates that regarding other federal judges (judges other than the president and vice-president of federal Supreme Court), the premier shall “submit” to the House of Peoples Representatives for appointment candidates selected by the federal judicial administration council. This constitutional provision at least show us that the word ‘submits’ does not necessarily or normally includes ‘selects’. Rather, it is meant to mean propound. And this meaning also applies to article 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution either. Thus the joint reading of articles 74(2) and 81(2) of the FDRE Constitution informs us that premier does not constitutional mandate to nominate, by himself, persons for candidacy for ministerial posts for approval before the House of Peoples Representatives. If the authors of the FDRE Constitution intended to entrust to the premier the power to nominate persons for candidacy for ministerial posts, article 74(2) of the FDRE Constitution would say that the prime minister shall “selects and submits” for approval to the House of Peoples Representatives nominees for ministerial posts. This is basically based on the norm that the provisions/words of the constitution should be given the same meaning-that they should be interpreted consistently.

Under the FDRE Constitution, thus, the prime minister, by himself, does not have the power to nominate persons for candidacy for ministerial posts. However, the premier as chief executive can initiate and recommend persons for ministerial posts for approval to the concerned party organ. This then leads us to an important question which runs thus: If the premier by himself doesn’t have the power to nominate persons for candidacy for ministerial posts under basic law of the land, who else may have such authority under the FDRE Constitution.

Under article 56 the FDRE Constitution, the political party or a coalition of political parties that has the greatest number of seats in the House of Peoples Representatives shall form and lead it. Article 56 of the FDRE Constitution has given to the political party or a coalition of political parties that has the greatest number of seats in the House of Peoples Representatives the power to form the executive and lead it. As per article 76(1) the FDRE Constitution, the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, ministers, the council of ministers and others as may be determined by law are cabinet members/ministers. Hence the word ‘executive’ within the context of article 56 the FDRE Constitution normally refers to the prime minister, Council of Ministers and other cabinet members. In other words, the word ‘executive’ meant to mean ministerial posts.

It is apparent that this constitutional authority, that is, the power to form the executive and lead it, comprises the authority to determine the organizational structure of the executive and the power to appoint persons for the executive posts. Accordingly, article 77(2) the FDRE Constitution specifically granted to the council of ministers the power to decide on the organizational structure of ministers and other organs responsible to it. Besides, article 77(2) the FDRE Constitution tacitly leaves the power to appoint the prime minister to a political party or a coalition of political parties’ that constitutes a majority in the House of Peoples Representatives. But unlike the appointment of the prime minister, this authority, that is, the authority to form the executive regarding ministerial posts, is qualified by article 74(2) and 55(13) of the FDRE Constitution.

The political party or a coalition of political parties’ that constitutes a majority in the House of Peoples Representatives does not emanate only from article 56 the FDRE Constitution. It emanates based on article 73(2) the FDRE Constitution. The question of nomination authority also comes into picture in tandem with the political power to form the executive and lead it. A political party or a coalition of political parties that has the greatest number of seats in the House of Peoples Representatives can nominate persons for candidacy for ministerial posts where it initially holds a majority in it. The question of selection power also comes into picture in tandem with the assumption of government power. Each and every NNP’s in Ethiopia has the right to an equitable representation equitable representation in state and federal government institutions. However, the extent of the influence/impact of NNP’s right to an equitable representation upon the nominations needs a separate examination.

Therefore it is the political party or a coalition of political parties that constitutes a majority in the House of Peoples Representatives that has the constitutional authority to nominate cabinet ministers in Ethiopia. To put it differently, a political party or a coalition of political parties that has the greatest number of seats in the House of Peoples Representatives has the constitutional authority select persons for candidacy for ministerial posts immediately where it initially holds a majority in it. The political party or a coalition of political parties that constitutes a majority in the House of Peoples Representatives, through the premier, shall put forward nominees’ for cabinet ministers both from among members of the two Houses and from among persons who are not members of either House.

In general the power to recommend and nominate” persons for candidacy for ministerial posts for appointment to the House of Peoples Representatives rests upon a political party of a coalition of political parties that assumed political power. However, a political party of a coalition of political parties that has greatest number of seats in the parliament can regulate the details and process of recommendation through party or coalition rules. As a result, normally the leader can change and nominate, only through the executive committee of EPRD, cabinet ministers for appointment.

But one may ask at this point that when the political party or a coalition of political parties that constitutes a majority in the House of Peoples Representatives does have the authority to nominate/select persons for candidacy for ministerial posts? In other words, under what circumstance does it have the power to nominate/recommend/select persons for candidacy for ministerial posts to the House of Peoples Representatives for its approval?

The political party or a coalition of political parties that constitutes a majority in the House of Peoples Representatives has the authority to nominate persons for candidacy for ministerial posts immediately after winning the national election for the House of Peoples Representatives seats. Is it possible to nominate persons for candidacy for ministerial posts while previously appointed ministers remain in office? The answer is in negative. In principle once they appointed by the House of Peoples Representatives, they will remain in office until the end of the five year terms for which a political party or a coalition of political parties that has the greatest number of seats in the House of Peoples Representatives has assumed political power. The term of office of ministers is for the duration of the mandate of the prime minister for stronger reason. There could not be appointment without any term of office.

They do not hold office only during the pleasure of the prime minister or the parliament. Rather, they hold office under the law .This can be discern from articles 73(2), 54 (1), 12(2), 39(3), 50(3), 74(4) and 55(13) of the FDRE Constitution. However, that does not mean they cannot be removed from office in law. Consequently, the parliament shall not approve the nominations without ascertaining the lawful removal or discharge of concerned officials it has previously appointed on the posts in which the appointment is requested. Otherwise, its appointment/approval constitutional authority and purpose would be futile. In addition, the supremacy of the parliament may be jeopardized.

Then after, the political party or a coalition of political parties that constitutes a majority in the House of Peoples Representatives can only nominate persons for candidacy for ministerial posts where there is a vacancy or vacancies in the “ministerial posts.” In the absence of a vacancy or vacancies, the political party or a coalition of political parties that constitutes a majority in the House of Peoples Representatives cannot select persons for candidacy for ministerial posts unless new for ministerial post(s) is/are established or opened either under article 77(2) the FDRE Constitution or article 55(1) the FDRE Constitution. As a result, the prime minister cannot submit/present candidates/nominees for “ministerial posts support to the House” nominated by the winning party or a coalition to the House of Peoples Representatives for endorsement. The inevitable question here is therefore: When do ministerial posts be vacant?

There will be vacancy in the ministerial posts where resignation, death, removal, and declaration of absence occurred as well as the terms of service for the ministerial posts expired by operation of the law, which is five years. However, it can also nominate when new for ministerial post(s) is/are established either under article 77(2) the FDRE Constitution or article 55(1) the FDRE Constitution. Mark that the prime minister cannot remove any minister or ministers at will. This can be discern from articles 74 (8), 12(2), 39(3), and 74(4) and 55(13) of the FDRE Constitution.

In conclusion, many intuitively believe that the prime minister can nominate all executive officers. But nothing in the FDRE Constitution supports this belief. The FDRE Constitution does not contain a provision that grant to the prime minister the authority to nominate members of the council of ministers. Under the FDRE Constitution, the exclusive nomination authority in this regards rests upon the winning political party or a coalition of political parties. Note that there is a difference between recommendation, nomination/selection, appointment/ approval power, and submission responsibility of persons for ministerial posts for approval to the House of Peoples Representatives under the FDRE Constitution.

Finally abuse of incumbency must be tackled in various ways. When abuse of incumbency occurred, the parliament shall, at the request of one-third of its members, discuss on the matter, and in such cases, it has the power to take decisions or measures as it deems necessary. The House of Federation has, on application of any interested party, the mandate to provide legal remedial measures in this regards.

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Categories
Articles EPRDF Ethio-Eritrea relations Ethiopia Politics

Reforms by the Ruling Party

(Engineer Magertu Regassa)

Since the demise of the Dergue regime in 1983 EC, we Ethiopians have been witnessing heartening developments in virtually everything and in the country as a whole. Some of the benefits that we have been enjoying from during the past 27 years include, among others, the following:

1/ Autonomous Administration: The various nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia were able to self-rule themselves with no or little interference from the Federal Government. This privilege enabled the people use their respective languages in their day-to-day lives and develop their languages and cultures as well as build their economy and improve their living standards.

2/ Democratic System: Though democracy in Ethiopia is still rudimentary and at its infant stage, we have been exercising several ingredients of a democratic nation such as freedoms pertaining to speech and expression as well as organization and multi-party system and the like that were completely inconceivable and considered illegal under the defunct Derg regime.

3/ Fast-Growing Economy: The Ethiopian economy under the defunct Derg regime was predominantly agrarian. Prior to 1983 EC, public and privately owned large manufacturing businesses, service giving establishments, construction companies and so on were either completely lacking or they were very few in number and concentrated at the capital city and/or at very few other cities. Fortunately, the current regime had lifted the Ethiopian economy from virtually nil to something bigger and promising so much so that we have now all sorts of businesses throughout the country and industry is anticipated to lead agriculture within the coming few years.

While we citizens sincerely eulogize the ruling party for its superb achievements thus far, I personally believe that the ruling party must embark on introducing some reforms that could put the nation in a better position than before. The reforms I venerate most and would like to see are the following:

I/ Revitalizing EPRDF

A political party, as I believe, is stronger and better if and only if there is democratic centralism that upholds party discipline and unity of direction which all party members strictly adhere to. During the reign of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, EPRDF was stronger and better than the EPRDF we have been observing for the past three or more years now perhaps because Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was able to keep intact the aforementioned attributes of a stronger and better political party.

It has now become abundantly clear that the four major parties that make up EPRDF go on their own and that EPRDF has no control over them emphasizing the fact that there is no democratic centralism, which serves EPRDF and its members as a guiding principle. The OPDO-ANDM conspiracy against their mother party, the fierce and unconstitutional struggle for power and the recent resignation of the former Prime Minister and his replacement by a new one substantiate my argument that there is complete absence of party discipline and unity of direction within EPRDF.

I only pray to God that this will not become a precedent in Ethiopian politics. Besides, other EPRDF-affiliated parties that are perhaps considered minor are not able to actively participate in important decisions that the four major EPRDF parties make in particular and in the overall political environment of the country at large.

Such “minor” EPRDF-affiliated political parties might feel that their political participation is being severely truncated because the other four “major” EPRDF parties deemed that the roles “minor” EPRDF-affiliated political parties could play are inconsequential. I am of the opinion that this feeling by the many “minor” EPRDF-affiliated political parties might have destructive ramification on EPRDF as well as on the country’s politics in the long-run.

I feel that it is now time for EPRDF to transform itself from FRONT to ONE and UNITED PARTY, which is made up of the current four “major” parties as well as the many “minor” EPRDF-affiliated parties whereby all members of the new party have equal rights (such as the right to vote) within the party and that democratic centralism is strictly adhered to by all members of the party.

Formation of the new party entails dropping old names like TPLF, ANDM, OPDO and the like as well as replacing all flags, which all EPRDF-member parties and regional states have been using so far, by one and the same flag that represents the new party. The one party that I am visualizing will have, among other things, the following advantages that are deemed to inculcate stronger Ethiopian sentiment in the heart and brain of each and every one citizen:

1/ For the past three or more years now, we have been observing a big rift among the four major EPRDF-member parties owing to conflicting interests, lack of trust and confidence on each other, conspiracy and thirst for power by some leaders of the EPRDF-member parties and the like. Besides, we have been observing supporters of OPDO insulting supporters of TPLF and ANDM, supporters of TPLF insulting supporters of OPDO and ANDM, supporters of ANDM insulting supporters of OPDO and TPLF and so on, though all these political parties are EPRDF-member parties.

Therefore, a highly unified, stronger and better party will come into being so much so that ordinary citizens and politicians in the party will not be divided along ethnic lines and hence ethnic tensions in the country will be completely eradicated or significantly reduced.

2/ The party will be able to put the right politicians in the right place and, therefore, only capable and highly qualified politicians will come to the highest echelon of the party’s leadership irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds. Just to be succinct, appointment aimed at maintaining balance among the various ethnicities will become obsolete and merit-based appointment will leave each and every one citizen equally content.

3/ So far, EPRDF didn’t have the confidence to punish its leaders and members for their wrongdoings. For instance, EPRDF leaders feel that, if they punish an ANDM leader, ANDM and the Amhara people will not be happy. Likewise, if a TPLF or an OPDO leader is punished, TPLF and the Tigrian people or OPDO and the Oromo people will not be happy.

Therefore, I believe that democratic centralism, party discipline and unity of direction that guide the new party will enable leaders of the party reward and punish all politicians within the the party exclusively on the basis of their individual performances and without concern to their former political affiliations and ethnic backgrounds.

II/ Enacting essential laws

All Ethiopians would unanimously agree that current laws had overlooked several crimes that have a catastrophic effect on the country as a whole. Corruption and embezzlement of public resources, which are being committed by government officials at all levels (in all regional states and in the federal government) and business owners, have already become rife in the country.

Such misdemeanors have been making the poor poorer and the rich richer and hence widening the already wide gap between the poor and the rich resulting in a very excruciating distribution of the nation’s wealth. I strongly believe, therefore, that it is now time to stop such social vices altogether.

Many government officials receive kickbacks from purchases of huge and substandard items (machinery, medicines, food stuffs and so on) from domestic and foreign suppliers, certifying inferior quality roads and other long-term structures, assisting business owners to evade profit and other taxes as well as to make illegal imports and exports and the like.

Establishing an “Anti-Corruption Office” at the federal and regional government levels might be a necessary condition to fighting and eliminating corruption and embezzlements. However, the nationwide fight against corruption and embezzlements certainly entails one essential condition: supporting the fight with stringent laws, including death penalty.

If such laws are not enacted now, the misdemeanors that I am speaking about will persevere and the long-term survival of the government will be highly threatened. All prior corruption and embezzlements might be unheeded under the new law but all such crimes after the law is officially enacted must be severely dealt with.

Lack of good governance, nepotism and clannish attitude by government officials are also among the crimes that have been incubating genuine public complaints against and distastes for both the ruling party and the political parties affiliated to it.

Putting capable and highly qualified leaders in government posts that require regular interaction with the general public, shortening the processes involved in getting things done, job-rotation of government officials at reasonable intervals could be some of the tools that could help avoid, if not minimize, the aforementioned crimes. However, even these crimes must be supported by stringent laws that include long years of incarceration.

 III/ Resolving the Ethio-Eritrea stalemate   

The geo-political environment of the Horn of Africa is highly volatile and susceptible to ethnic and religious conflicts, disagreements over territory, wars aimed at controlling basic resources such as water and proxy wars having various goals. All Middle East countries as well as superpowers like the USA, European countries, Russia, China and others have keen interest in the Horn of Africa for one reason or another.

Presently, Saudi Arabia is using Eritrean territory in its war against its enemies in Yemen. Egypt has recently obtained a military base in Eritrea. The absence of peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea had severely damaged the Eritrean economy and hence Eritrea is leasing its territory out to other countries simply because it wanted to alleviate itself from the acute and chronic financial crunch it has been facing with owing to its virtually dead economy.

I am of the opinion that undue presence of foreign forces in Eritrea, especially those countries that have outstanding issues with our country, might have harmful repercussions on Ethiopia now or in the future.  Moreover, we know that Eritrea is a safe haven to Ethiopian insurgents who frequently attack Ethiopia.

Several years had elapsed since the time when our country had fought and won a deadly war against Eritrea. Since then, Ethiopia is in a no-war; a no-peace situation with Eritrea. The people of both countries certainly need peace and harmony. Therefore, it is now time to employ PM Meles’s “Give-and-Take” strategy pertaining to the Ethio-Eritrea crisis or any other strategies that are acceptable and mutually beneficial to both countries.

Restoring peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which were historically one country and one people, is the only way out to minimize threat from other countries as well as avoid Ethiopian insurgents attacking our country and bring them to negotiations.

IV/ Broadening political freedom and dialogue

Opposition (I hate this name) political parties are not enemies of the nation. They rather are political parties that have alternative programs, strategies, policies and vision pertaining to our country’s politics, economy, society and the like.

First of all, I recommend their names to be changed from “Opposition Political Parties” to “Alternative Political Parties”.

Second, all opposition political parties and insurgents operating outside Ethiopia must be unconditionally allowed to come back to their homeland and peacefully participate in the country’s politics.

Third, there must be conducive atmosphere for them so that they could promulgate their programs, strategies, policies and vision without any duress. They must be able to do so not only in gatherings with their supporters but also via state-owned televisions, radios and printed media.

Fourth, the ruling party must candidly involve leaders of opposition political parties in major policy issues and decisions that are of paramount importance to the country and the people.

Fifth, there must be a regular and unconditional dialogue between the ruling party on the one hand and the opposition political parties on the other.

As per my observation, there are many issues on which the ruling party and the opposition political parties have diametrically different positions and hence such issues merit dialogue. The issues include, among others, the following:

1/ Laws related to the operations of the alternative political parties.

2/ Election code.

3/ Anti-terrorism law.

4/ Laws that are stipulated in the Ethiopian Constitution such as the law on self-determination up to secession as well as law pertaining to land ownership, just to mention. We must not see the Ethiopian Constitution as a Bible or Quran that are not subject to any form of amendment. The constitution must be revised in light of new developments and demands in the national, regional, continental and international arena.

5/ The national flag is another subject of disagreement between the two political camps. As there are many citizens who deeply despise all prior national flags, there are also some citizens who don’t like the current national flag of the country.

6/ The ethnic-based federalism that EPRDF had introduced is also one major area of disagreement between the two political camps. Many ordinary citizens and politicians maintain any one or more of the following three positions:

(a) The ethnic-based federalism is dividing the nation.

(b) The ethnic-based federalism is not fully implemented as it is stipulated in the constitution.

(c) There are other better options than the ethnic-based federalism.

As this article is exclusively meant to indicate the reforms the ruling party must introduce, I will not mention here the many flaws of the “Opposition Political Parties” in Ethiopia. I will soon come up with, in a separate article, an in-depth appraisal of the “Opposition Political Parties” in Ethiopia and the reforms I believe that they must consider making.

V/ Assisting and encouraging the private media

An amicable and virtuous government-private media relationship is highly crucial to building full-fledged democracy. The private media is not only a source of information to the general public but it is also a source of essential information that could enable the government draft new policies or amend existing ones, make judicious and accurate decisions and take appropriate actions.

Therefore, I strongly believe that the government must assist and encourage the private media if it really is eager to accelerate the pace of the democratization process and obtain the maximum benefit out of the private media. The government’s assistance includes, among other things, earmarking some money that would be utilized in reinvigorating the private media in Ethiopia.

My conviction is that all citizens would be more than happy if the government performs the following activities that are directly relevant to the operations of the private media, both electronic and printed:

1/ Creating a conducive atmosphere where the journalists in the private media could set-up a formal association of the private media and elect their leaders/representatives without obstructions and intrusions of any kind.

2/ Introducing a new private press law that is accepted by and implemented in countries that are known for their democracy. This could be attained by employing any one of the following two different options:

OPTION-1: It would be better if the new private press law is prepared and self-imposed by the association of private media itself. This might require sending some private press journalists, who are selected by the leaders of the association of private media itself, to countries that are known for their democracy so that they could meet and discuss with private press journalists in those countries with the aim to obtain international experiences as well as assemble essential documents and laws pertaining to the operations of the private media in those countries.

This will enable the association of private media draft a standard new private press law which it will abide by. Of course, before the law is ratified by the government, the association of private media must carry out an in-depth discussion with representatives of the ruling and opposition parties and make essential amendments, accordingly. The government must, therefore, be willing to cover all costs associated with the short-term visit of private press journalists to other countries.

OPTION-2: If the new private press law is prepared by the government itself, it must be thoroughly discussed with representatives of the association of private media and leaders of opposition parties and essential amendments are made before it is actually ratified by the government.

This participatory approach to enacting the law will make both the association of private media and the opposition parties feel that their voices are being considered by the government and hence they will abide by the law.

I will not mention here the many flaws of the Ethiopian Private Media. I will soon come up with, in a separate article, an in-depth appraisal of the Ethiopian Private Media and the reforms I believe that it must consider making.

VI/ Candid communication with the diaspora

Almost all Ethiopians in the diaspora are victims of fabricated info that are disseminated by opposition political parties, various media outlets and former ruling party officials and ordinary members. It is, therefore, for this reason that we have been observing many Ethiopians in the diaspora blindly opposing the ruling party and showing reluctance to acknowledge and commend the ruling party’s comprehensive and marvelous achievements thus far.

If the Ethiopians in the diaspora were fed with correct information, they would have positively contributed to our country’s politics, economy and so on. It is unambiguously correct to say that there is no strong coordination and communication between the government and the Ethiopians in the diaspora.

In this regard, I recommend the government to perform the following activities if it really wants to see productive Ethiopians in the diaspora.

First, the Ethiopian Embassies must be instructed to hold regular meetings with the Ethiopians living out there with the aim to furnish them with correct and up-to-date information pertaining to Ethiopian politics, economy and so on and hear their voices as well.

Second, high-level government officials must visit, at reasonable intervals, countries where there are many Ethiopians and undertake candid discussions with them.

Third, all Ethiopians in the diaspora must be unconditionally allowed to visit their country, hold discussions with government officials at federal and regional states, invest their knowledge and financial resources in the country and so on.

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