By Yohannes Gebresellasie (Phd)
Democracy is not a matter of choice but a matter of survival all over the world and certainly this fact is true here in our country Ethiopia as well. This fundamental right has been well identified and priority number one of the incumbent. This has been so, because the Ethiopian people have put enormous sacrifices in order to attain and achieve fundamental human and democratic rights.
All the scarifies of the Ethiopian people bore fruits when they got rid of the former regimes that deprived them off their fundamental human and democratic rights for generations. The Ethiopian people endured all hardships imposed upon them by those autocratic and dictatorial regimes of the past. It has been over twenty five years now since the Ethiopian people started to enjoy peace, democracy and good governance and focus on sustainable development in order to get rid of another chronic enemy: Poverty and under development.
Our nation is on the right track since the incumbent came to power. Most importantly, the people have been living in peace and harmony. Violence and anarchy is becoming an issue of the past and people are focusing on development, investment, education and training in order to put the nation forward. All this can only be achieved if there is peace.
All the achievements can only be sustainable in the absence of violence and in the presence of peace, democracy and good governance. The Ethiopian peoples want to maintain and safeguard their achievements gained through the prolonged, hard fought struggle and immense sacrifice. They definitely do not want to give up and lose this achievements to self-serving individuals and groups, who with hidden agendas align with enemies of our nation and remnants of the former dictatorial regime which would like to take the nation back to the old and archaic mentality.
Democratization, good governance and sustainable development are here to stay and never to be hijacked by some internal and external extremists. The important achievements of the Ethiopian people have been safeguarded by the constitution of the land, which explicitly recognizes the equality of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples. The constitution puts all the peoples of the nation on equal footings and safeguards their rights. Further, the constitution creates unity in diversity and recognizes and respects all ethnics groups in Ethiopia with the same status.
It is to be recalled that Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia were not treated equally prior to the current government: some were more equal than others during the times of former successive regimes in Ethiopia. The current government realized this unfortunate fact from the very outset and drafted and put into effect a construction of the people, for the people and by the people. The following is the preamble of the Ethiopian constitution:
“We, the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia: Strongly committed, in full and free exercise of our right to self-determination, to building a political community founded on the rule of law and capable of ensuring a lasting peace, guaranteeing a democratic order, and advancing our economic and social development; Firmly convinced that the fulfillment of this objective requires full respect of individual and people’s fundamental freedoms and rights, to live together on the basis of equality and without any sexual, religious or cultural discrimination; Further convinced that by continuing to live with our rich and proud cultural legacies in territories we have long inhabited, have, through continuous interaction on various levels and forms of life, built up common interest and have also contributed to the emergence of a common outlook; Fully cognizant that our common destiny can best be served by rectifying historically unjust relationship and by further promoting our shared interest; Convinced that to live as one economic community is necessary in order to create sustainable and mutually supportive conditions for ensuring respect for our rights and freedoms and for the collective promotion of our interests; Determined to consolidate, as a lasting legacy, the peace and the prospect of a democratic order which our struggles and sacrifices have brought about; Have therefore adopted, on 8 December 1994 this constitution through representatives we have duly elected for this purpose as an instrument that binds us in a mutual commitment to fulfill the objectives and the principles set forth above”.
Also article 39 of the Ethiopian constitution stipulates the following rights to Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia;
1. Every Nations, Nationality and People in Ethiopia has an unconditional right to self determination, including the right to secession.
2. Every nation, nationality and people in Ethiopia has the right to speak, to write and to develop its own language; to express, to develop and to promote its culture; and to preserve its history.
3. Every Nation, nationality and people in Ethiopia has the right to a full measure of self-government which includes the right to establish institutions of government in the territory that it in habits and to equitable representation in state and Federal governments.
4. The right to self-determination, including secession, of every Nation, nationality and people shall come into effect:
a) When a demand for secession has been approved by a two-thirds majority of the members of the Legislative council of the Nation, nationality or people concerned;
b) When the Federal Government has organized a referendum which must take place within three years from the time it received the concerned council’s decision for secession;
c) When the demand for secession is supported by majority vote in the referendum;
When the Federal Government will have transferred its powers to the council of the Nation, Nationality or people who has voted to secede; and
d) When the division of assets is effected in a manner prescribed by law.
A “Nation, Nationality or People” for the purpose of this constitution, is a group of people who have or share large measure of a common culture or similar customs, mutual intelligibility of language, belief in a common or related identities, a common psychological make-up, and who inhabit and identifiable, predominantly contiguous territory.
The preamble and article 39 of the Ethiopian constitution clearly puts into perspective the rights of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia. It also guarantees that the Peoples of Ethiopia have equal status, irrespective of their ethnic, linguistic, religious or any other differences.
In a way, it recognizes unity in diversity. This is recognizing the absolute reality of differences that exist and giving equal respect and recognition to all citizens of this nation. This is what article 39 is all about and nothing else. As a result, the constitution that is based on equal rights and responsibilities became a formula of unity in diversity and not a dividing factor of the people of Ethiopia as some wants us to believe.
So why do few opposition parties inside and outside the country want to scrap and destroy this binding formula that brought peace, stability and mutual respect among the people of Ethiopia? More importantly, with what formula do they want to replace it? Do they have any other constructive alternative to it? The answer to these questions is simple and clear.
First and foremost, these people have never opted for any workable alternative because they have none whatsoever. More importantly, they have no agenda except a formula of destruction. Therefore, they have been guided by this formula of destruction from the very outset. Second and of more importance, few opposition members, particularly extremists, have never stood for equality of and mutual respect for Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia. Instead, they want to keep the old status quo used during the former regimes.
Third, they know that they cannot possibly win election in Ethiopia, where the majority of the population is rural and agricultural in a fair and democratic ways. This is because, they simply have no base what so ever in the area where majority of Ethiopians reside. Therefore, they were guided by illusion to take every option including violence to grasp power. That is why they usually opt for illegal, undemocratic means and ways including using violence and anarchy. Those destructive tactics resulted in an unprecedented human live loses as well as material damages in some parts of our nation. Their actions caused economic conspiracy and sabotage and negatively affected the nation’s international image and reputation. Their illegal activities also ignored and violated the nation’s constitution and the law of the land.
As a result, it provoked and initiated violence, anarchy, chauvinism and racism in the country. Cooperated and collaborated with enemies from within and abroad like OLF, Genbot 7 and Shabia against the national interest of Ethiopia, they caused economic sabotage and loss of human lives besides destroying pubic property. If this is not a crime then what is? Therefore, as nobody is above the law, those extremists who are committing the above and other criminal activities must face justice.
The government has been so patient for so long for the sake of democracy and good governance. But it can no longer be silent when innocent citizens are killed, public property destroyed and the national interest damaged. As government, it has to take every legal action to protect its citizen’ livelihoods and rights as well as protect public property. In fact, that is the government’s number one priority.
Those who ignite fire on innocent citizens and try to divide the Ethiopian Nations, Nationalities and Peoples on an imaginary and illusionary basis such as race, religion, language etc. are purposely ignoring the generational mutual relationship and respect of the peoples of Ethiopia. Therefore, it is not to late for them to come to their senses. We say Enough is Enough. Please don’t mess with our innocent children and our young generation. As the saying goes: “you can fool some people sometimes but you cannot full many people many times”.
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