Former president of Federal Republic of Ethiopia, Negaso Gidada, concerned that Ethiopia could lead to civil war unless popular demands in different parts of the country are urgently and positively addressed.
In an interview with Voice of America Amharic service, Negaso was explicit enough that situations in countries like Yemen,Syria,Somalia and South Sudan could unfold in Ethiopia. Fighting between peoples and between opposition and government is likely to happen unless demands related to democratic and human rights are addressed in the short term rather than clinging to violent and brutal measures on the part of government to suppress popular demands.
Negasso Gidada was the first president of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia and resigned after he opposed undemocratic political moves by the ruling party in Ethiopia.As president, he signed the current controversial constitution. Now,in his interview with VOA Amharic, he sees merit in opening discussion on the constitution again to address controversial issues like Article 39 which stipulates “self-determination up to and including secession.”
Many analysts argue that the Article 39 of the constitution is reminiscent of Marxist world view which was meant to be applicable for nations under conditions of colonial administration.
The issue of flag is also controversial, he seem to suggest, that needs open discussion. During the course of protests in Ethiopia and abroad, Ethiopians reject the flag the ruling party introduced after taking power following the fall of military regime. Contentious point regarding flad is addition of pentagram with blue color on Ethiopian flag which was otherwise plain green,yello and red horizontal stripes.
Negaso sees ongoing popular demands in different parts of Ethiopia as manifestations of problems related to democratic rights and human rights. And the solution in the short term,he added,is to revoke new legislation introduced recently that severely restricts freedom of expression and other democratic rights.
Anti-terrorism legislation, for example, has been criticized by political and human rights activists as many journalists and opposition figures are thrown to prison with trumped up charges of terror.
Negaso also noted that questions of identity surfaced in the ongoing movement including Wolqaite question in Amhara region as matters that needs urgent solution. He tends to think that addressing them positively and urgently could avert disastrous political and security consequences.