By Kebour Ghenna
Warning: The following may not be suitable for hard core advocate of independent Amhara, Oromia or Tigray states.
Ethiopia is not in good health. It’s slowly dying.
Most leading political party leaders cheer for separate and autonomous states. They are increasingly unfavorable to Ethiopia. Uncertainty has gained a foothold in every citizen. The only certainty seems to be that things cannot go on this way for long.
Indeed, the country is in danger of being torn apart if not managed properly. It’s confronting both serious political and serious economic emergency with high unemployment, acute foreign exchange problem, fiscal deficit and unmanageable debts.
These problems can be successfully resolved only in the context of an Ethiopian political federation. Ethiopia is the future of our nation states. Not sovereign Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, Afar, Somali, or other states. Without solid Ethiopian construction there can be no salvation. We have to wake up and make the necessary quantum leap to advance a dynamic new thrust to Ethiopia. And that Ethiopia can only be FEDERAL.
Not a fake federal, but a true federal where each constituent control its own resources.
Not to give away too much of the plot, most of us citizens don’t have much clarity on a number of issues regarding federalism. We’re divided on the issue of maintaining the status quo of ethnic Federalism versus dismantling it in favor of geography based system, we’re not sure on how to address the question of Addis Ababa or Harar, we have no idea on how to deal with the case of Oromia within the federation, or on the power balance between the regional states and the federal government.
Oh sure, discussions on these and other issues are just beginning to intensify in Addis Ababa. Individuals, party officials, civil society members each are beginning to bid and yell their views. The mob thinks it has all the answers without realizing any mistake could be fatal.
And pretty soon election-day will catch up… and then what?
Although the functioning of Ethiopia’s federalism shows both some degree of success and shortcomings, it’s still marked by sharply contrasting perspectives. Our federalism has yet to go far in terms of ending the unitary ‘ feeding bottle’ federalism and giving regional states full legal and administrative jurisdiction within their territories. In a way, this can definitely kick-start the moribund local economies and improve livelihoods.
Dear readers, our political discourse should focus on how to define positive prospects and to propose a method for building the Ethiopia of the future, the Ethiopia of which we are dreaming, the Ethiopia to which we aspire, the Ethiopia our children wish to see.
We need to take up the Federation fight with greater conviction than ever before. Faced with not-so-friendly neighboring countries (Egypt, Somalia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and so forth) only obtuse leaders would venture with projects like the Republic of Amhara, or the United Republic of Oromia, or the Tigrepublic. Just imagine, for instance, of the nightmare involved in simply repaying the current debt denominated in US dollars for these new republics. Thus our argument in favor of revisiting and strengthening the Ethiopian Federation.
A quantum leap could take us to what I call the new Ethiopian Federation. At first, the current heads of the three regional states i.e. Amhara, Oromia, and Tigray, together with opposition leaders and select leaders of the community, could work out a national treaty to reshape the Federation, redefining its institutional organization with a president, a prime minister, a parliament based on one or two houses, and a type of direct democracy mechanism allowing citizens’ referendum. This is one good way to launch a major initiative for growth capable of slashing unemployment and fostering a new economic dynamic in Ethiopia…With the right leadership, this can be done before the next election.
Let’s just understand the crisis of Ethiopia’s existence can end in only one of two ways: in the collapse and disintegration of Ethiopia; or in the rebirth of Ethiopia based on a heroism of reason.
The choice is ours.
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