A Rejoinder to Dr Tsegaye Ararssa on the Constitution – Girma Kassa

This is regarding an interesting, well researched and educational article (part 1) on the current constitution of Ethiopia, posted on Zehabesha [1] by Dr Tesgaye Ararssa. Highlighting the current constitution huge lack of legitimacy, the latter explains why that is the case, by starting on how the constitution came to existence in the first place.

Primarily providing evidence and data on the starting process of drafting the constitution, quoting experts like , Meaza Ashenafi, an associate (albeit informally) of one of the technical sub-committees (or committee of experts) at the time of the drafting of the constitution and James C.N. Paul (2000), a renowned constitutional scholar on Ethiopia and the wider third world, Dr Tsegaye made a convincing and irrefutable case that the current constitution is a document imposed by the few on the many.

“…the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling party, always dominated when an issue came to a vote (in the Commission that had the responsibility to draft the constitution), as it had the largest delegation.” Meaza Ashenafi.

“There was little meaningful public participatory debate, especially debate focused on devolution versus ethnic federalism, let alone sovereignty or self-determination. […], opposition parties withdrew. Instead of debating the content of the constitution, they denounced the legitimacy of the whole project. Just as the EPRDF controlled the Constitutional Commission’s work, so it controlled the election, and then the deliberations, of the Constitutional Assembly……None of the political and ethnic forces which make the opposition to […](EPRDF) had participated in the Constitutional making. All opposition parties, most important, those representing the Amhara and Oromo groups (38 and 35 % respectively) withdrew from the electoral competition. The new constitution is therefore supported politically and ethnically only by the Tigrayan minority which counts less than 10 % of the population.” James Paul

Dr Tsegaye argues the need of constitutional changes something he promised to share about more in Part 2 of his article on the constitution.

The current constitution and the ethnic federal structure in it, that are believed to be the cause for the many ethnic tensions that we are witnessing all over the country, are items imposed by the “victorious” on others. The TPLF with the help of OLF initially, put in place what was agreed upon in Tesenay, Eritrea by Dr Bereket Gebreselassie (Shabia), Ato Lencho Letta (then OLF) and the late Meles Zenawi (TPLF). The so called constitutional commission, constitutional reviews and debates were mere theatrics orchestrated to deceitfully portray the prior years OLF, TPLF and Shabia agreed upon document as a legitimate document of the people and the constitutional drafting process as fair and representative.

Borrowing the phrase of Dr Tsegaye, “the need for an urgent work of constitutional redemption and societal transfiguration”, the need of a complete review of the current Ethiopian constitution so that this supreme law of the land can be a document not of one ethnic group against the others, but of all Ethiopians is not only needed but long overdue.

The document does not have to please everyone 100%. Everyone would have to give in a little bit to arrive at a common acceptable position. The document must be a consensus document that nurtures unity, create an atmosphere of harmonies among various ethnic groups and lays the foundation for a free, democratic, multi-ethnic Ethiopia that is equal to all its citizens.

[1] http://www.zehabesha.com/ethiopias-constitution-fractured-legitimacy-the-urgency-of-constitutional-transfiguration/

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Posted by on March 21, 2016. Filed under COMMENTARY,VIEWS. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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