“A Constitution for a Multinational Democratic State-Nation: The Case of Ethiopia”

By Tedla Asfaw
Dr. Negasso Gidada presented his paper on “A Constitution for a Multinational Democratic State-Nation: The Case of Ethiopia” at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) on  on Feb. 24, 2015.

The argument by Dr. Negasso . Gidada  the constitution was not a TPLF Constitution as widely believed by many Ethiopians rather a constitution of “the people by the people ” is inaccurate. Who nominated the drafting commission ? Who was controlling the process ? Was it not the late Meles Zenawi’s TPLF ?
Talking about the shortcomings or amendments can not be tackled if we do not agree whose constitution we have now in Ethiopia. It is TPLF’s Constitution which is based on TPLF’s Manifesto of 1976. The goal is to make Tigrai an independent nation after Ethiopia is broken to mini ” independent “states.
After Derg was toppled by TPLF in May 1991 power has been under total control of  TPLF. The constitution was drafted and ratified by pro TPLF individuals. Dr. Negasso Gidada denying that is denying the reality in Ethiopia for the last twenty three years or more.
No one is going to be fooled in Ethiopia by the so called Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front ( EPRDF) which Dr. Negaoos on his presentation considered as a party. EPRDF is not a party we all know that. It is a coalition that is led by TPLF.
EPRDF is a facade for the domination of TPLF on  political, economical and cultural life of the diverse population of  Ethiopia of more than eighty ethnic groups. It seems Dr. Negaso Gidada can change this reality by amending the constitution.
If we accept the TPLF or Ethiopian  ” Amended ” Constitution for referendum as recommended by Dr. Gidada then what ? We  were told that EPRDF won an election by 99.6 percent ten years ago why we should expect different result on theamended  Constitution ??
The Ethiopian people defeat of EPRDF/TPLF in 2010 election by pro unity coalition Kinijit was an indirect referendum onEPRDF and its unpopular constitution of divide and rule.
I agree with Dr. Negasso Gidada the ethnic elites like him  at home and abroad support Article 39. For them the Ethiopian ” peoples  are under “colony” . They have to be given a chance like Eritrea to vote for independent nation on the line of new map they created in 1991 by brute force.
The big hurdle for this TPLF made Kilils/regions or what Dr. Negasso Gidad call ” nation states ” you need toaccommodate at least 80 ethnic groups. At present such ethnic map is being redrawn in Eastern Ukraine to accomodateRussians at the expense of Ukrainians. In Ethiopia  redrawing was done twenty years ago in the name of nations andnationalities by the barrel of gun similar to Ukraine experience underway now.
Dr. Negasso Gidada mentioned the quarrel among various ethnic groups for land and water. That is true. He forgot to mention the ethnic cleansing that forced many Ethiopians under his presidency from Asosa, Arba Gugu etc. Many people were murdered to purify the regions of unwanted ethnic groups mainly the Amharas.
After he left the presidency  ethnic cleansing under the leadership of  TPLF’s Abaye Tsehai and Shifereaw Shugite was carried out in Gura Ferda and other places in South and South Western Ethiopia. The issue was raised in the parliament after it got  wide publicity in the Voice of America Amharic Program. The Southern region/state, Oromos, Somalis and Afars  are fighting to establish a homogeneous ethnic kilil/region for future Independence.  Will these Kilils survive both politically and economically. Dr. Negasso Gidada failed to discuss this burning issue on his presentation.
I was one of Dr. Negasso Gidada supporters when he joined the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJP), lately he  resigned, after he said in public, ” serving as a president of Ethiopia and traveling in all regions, Ethiopians are against separation that was enshrined in the Article 39 of the constitution”. Why then now Dr. Negasso Gidada is telling us that he is still for Article 39 and will put it for referendum. If we run a referendum why should it be different from the 2010 election result, that is 99.6 percent will  say Yes to Article 39.
Dr. Negasso Gidada confirmed the deep poverty in urban centers like  Addis  parallel to infrastructures development, roads, schools, clinics, universities etc. However, the large displacement of farmers which  was mentioned by the other panelist, Professor John Harbeson of Johns Hopkins, did not get emphasis on Dr. Negasso Gidada presentation especially the impact of the pending Addis Master plan on the surrounding farmers. Why are the students on the Oromoregion are against this master plan ? Does Dr. Negasso Gidada support the students slogan Oromia for Oromos only ?? Is this not the  right given by the Article 39 of the constitution which still has his support ?  Who knows Dr. NegassoGidada will change his position for the third time. See you then Dr. !!!!!!


  1. It appears that the only crime of Dr. Gidada is not advocating for the Ethiopian Unity under the helm of Colonialism. If it smells, and sounds like a pig, face it, it is a pig. The aim of Abyssinian backward Colonialism was/is to eradicate all other Nations and Nationalities in the empire, and replace it with their language, and all other social domains. That will be on the graves of all the freedom loving people in the prison of Nations; known as Ethiopia. Next time please think of another more innovative ways of convincing others,if you happen to know any, because what you and you fathers had been preaching has lost the flavor, it is too old even for listeners.

  2. Dear Tedla,
    I have read your cmmment on Dr Nagaasso Gidada’s argument on the constitution; and one point caught my eyes, that you stated:
    “The argument by Dr. Negasso Gidada the constitution was not a TPLF Constitution as widely believed by many Ethiopians rather a constitution of “the people by the people ” is inaccurate. Who nominated the drafting commission ? Who was controlling the process ? Was it not the late Meles Zenawi’s TPLF ?”
    I was one of those who fully followed the whole process not only with keen interest also with duty boundedness. The constitution was not a closed camera work of the TPLF, but the work of all the parties involved, the first of its kind in the history of that region. Had it not been for failure in its implementation, it was all embrasive, and hard work of all those who invested in it to lay the basis of democracy, and was a starting point of history to where to stop and think whether to save the empire and/or country at the expense of the Oromos others enslaved forfeiting freedom or everyone chose ones’ own way in search of freedom. As such the constituition was not the sole work of the TPLF under the late Prime minister, HE Melles (b. Leggesse) Zenawi. SO to consider the constitution as the sole product of the TPLF Pvt Limited co. is a wrong conception.
    With due respect


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