If I were the president – Messay Kebede

Ethiopian Review has asked scholars and prominent individuals what 10 things they would do immediately if they are elected president or prime minister of Ethiopia. The following is by Dr Messay Kebede. (Click here to read what others wrote.)

If I were president or prime minister of Ethiopia, I would fight for the following 10 measures, which I consider absolutely necessary for the revival of Ethiopia.

1. Supervise a transitional process that is free of any revengeful actions, promotes peace and reconciliation, liberates all political prisoners, and allows the expression of basic democratic rights.

2. Create a government of national unity composed of representatives of various ethnic groups, political parties, and major professional activities.

3. Reform the existing army with the intent of making it more representative of ethnic groups and depoliticizing it, thereby enhancing integration and its commitment to national unity and defense.

4. Establish a commission composed of representative ethnic and professional groups that will deliberate on the issue of national education and suggest ways and means to design an agreed curriculum that both centers Ethiopia and reflects its linguistic, cultural and religious diversity while also pushing for a type of scientific and technological education focused on the concrete needs of Ethiopia’s rural and urban populations.

5. Create a task force of experts that reflects on an economic policy with short-term goals targeting the reduction of unemployment and the prevention of famines and long-term perspectives designed to create favorable conditions for the reduction of poverty, the improvement of infrastructures, and the development of productive activities.

6. Set up a commission that writes a new constitution which, while preserving the gains of the existing constitution, emphasizes unconditional unity together with a decentralized system of regional or ethnic self-rule, defends individual and group rights, and establishes an autonomous judiciary system that resolves constitutional disputes and protects against infringement of rights.

7. Ask people to reflect on measures that are necessary to develop democratic culture in Ethiopia in agreement with its ethnic, religious, and national traditions as well as to promote a climate of reconciliation and mutual confidence between elites, classes, ethnic groups, and religious communities.

8. Launch a sincere appeal with firm and guaranteed protections to the Ethiopian diaspora–regardless of past political or ideological affiliations — so that its knowledge and resources are put in the service of Ethiopia’s development.

9. Use diplomatic means and concern for mutual interests to resolve peacefully conflicts with neighboring countries, including Eritrea, which will receive a special treatment owing to common history and heritage.

10. Reinforce international relations, especially with those countries eager to invest in Ethiopia by offering attractive conditions without however allowing any imperialist policy of exploitation or economic dependence.

(Dr Messay Kebede is professor of philosophy at The University of Dayton, Ohio. He can be reached at Messay.Kebede@notes.udayton.edu)

20 comments on “If I were the president – Messay Kebede

  1. The Predatory TPLF oligarchy has its own interest, at the expense of all Ethiopians.This regime is trying to control everything by engulfing economies, regional powers, and the land. I think, its destruction will not be stopped so long us the west keeps sponsoring and rewarding state terrorism against the poor.

  2. Tariku on

    በአጭሩ የናይጀርያ አይነት ስርዓት ነው የምፈልገው አትለንም? ወንድሜ: አገር ዝም ብሎ በምኞት: በስሜትና በዘፈቀደ ዘይቤ አይመራም:: ሁሉም የየራሱ ታሪካዊ አመጣጥ አለው:: ታሪኩን አጥንተህ: ጥሩና መጥፎን ለይተህ: የጎደለውን ለመሙላት: ምን ዓይነት ስርዓት ነው የሚበጀው ብለህ አስበህ ብትጽፍ ይሻላል::

  3. Dejenie A. Lakew on

    Dear Ethiopians,

    Ethiopia was not, is not and should not be a theater or platform of actors where groups from different times pop up and perform the same kind of act with the same verse, note, pitch and nich of politics from old school of taught of socialism. The points indicated by Messay Kebede are kinds of things that I read when I was grade 8 some 30 years ago from pamphlets distributed by EPRP and similar groupd that existed then and who ruled the country now.
    As far as I can tell the writer is a professor of philosophy at a university here in America.
    Therefore by default, he knows the what, why and the how of politics and the philosohpy of politics to a particular society which is now a very integral part of the glob.

    This is a period where your business is your ethnicity not the converse, your self is the singlton that is needed in the world not by being in your group (in your type or ethnicity). Haiti is a living example where all people of the world rolled over there to dig out a soul who was trapped in a collapsed building. It is only by being a member of a global group, either social, political, economic or scientific that societies will servive and flourish to their highest potential with being equal with others who achieved the most in global domains.

    The existence of societies is no more local. It is global and therefore global means, global knowledge and global modes of thinking are indespensible part and parcel of any political constructs or political domains.
    It is therefore in this direction that you need to prepare a political platform and create a political domain to bring our society to the level of contemporary societies, not by creating shelves of ethinicities and teaching them an extreme backward ideas of shelf managemant of socialism how to live locally by being and remain different.

    Imagine for a moment, if this boutique management politics of socialism is imposed in America where all races and ethinicities of mankind exist, practically life will simply stop, because of the story : “The tower of Babel” that we read in the bible.

    The good thing is that American founders were wise enough, they did not create such a shelf managemant constituition.

    Political structure should be built in looking at three coordinate of the modern demand:
    (1) local coordinates
    (2) global coordinates
    (3) time coordinates

    Therefore any political action of a society should be described in these three coordinates. It is in this case that you look what you have to do locally in order to belong globally in a specific time frame.

    These are the things Ethiopia and Ethiopians need now and beyond.

    Good Luck!

  4. Unconitional unity is just a force of act, hebret is what is needed. Unconditional unity a dream of you and your likes. Do I hate unity? No. unity is achieved by my consent not by force. Come out from your hiden propoganda and seek for true meaningful hebret. Why don’t you ask me what I want? Why do you still try to force upon me? Don’t you get it? Nothing happen without my consent!!!!

  5. Anonym on

    Unconditional Unity? That time has passed. No imposed unity on people. The people should be given the ultimate right to decide their fate. My personal choice is UNION of States. A true Autonomous Federal States Unitying for common goal!

  6. shaggar on

    Very good ideas and imagenative. But, ‘unconditional unity’ is a problem. The Dergue tried it, and it was a disaster. True the idea of ‘secession’ in the constitution is problematic too. So, need to be creative and find something in between.

  7. Samuel Habtu Belay on

    Well done Dr Messay. I agree with other commentators above that unconditional unity is very problematic. I would add to your list the urgent need for a population policy – otherwise, it will be extremely difficult to maintain let alone improve on the almost non-existing education, health, safe water, infrastructure, etc services.

  8. Messay on

    The Derg’s unconditional unity was applied in the context of a tightly centralized state. My proposal includes regional autonomy and self-rule. It results in a federal arrangement on the condition that everybody agrees to play the card of unity. Those who think that nations were built on the basis of consent are still victims of both Stalinist and Western destabilizing propagandas.

  9. Gabose on

    Messay,

    What would you do if I tell you that I don’t even want to hear your “unconditional unity” let alone accept it?. Would you force me by holding a gun on my head?.

    For so long Ethiopia has suffered under and been served poorly by incompetent leadership who instituted flawed policies.
    Lets learn from our past mistakes and save Ethiopia from itself.

  10. agree with Dr Messay but include cultivate the culture healthy political discourse and fair system.

  11. Observer! on

    Dear Ethiopians and its loyal friends:

    Ethiopia was not, is not and should not be a theater or platform of actors where groups from different times pop up and perform the same kind of act with the same verse, note, pitch and niche of politics from old school of taught of socialism. The points indicated by Messay Kebede are kinds of things that I read when I was grade 8 some 30 years ago from pamphlets distributed by EPRP and similar groups that existed then and who rule the country now.

    As far as I can tell the writer is a professor of philosophy at a university here in America.
    Therefore by default, he knows the what, why and the how of politics and the philosophy of politics to a particular society which is now a very integral part of the globe.

    This is a period where your business is your ethnicity not the converse, your self is the singleton that is needed in the world not by being in your group (in your type or ethnicity). Haiti is a living example where all people of the world rolled over there to dig out a soul who was trapped in a collapsed building and with absolute terms proves my proposition that humanity transcends above ethnicity. People of different races and ethnicities come and make a descent living here in America, not because they are Americans but because first and foremost they are human beings and take that privilege which is forwarded by Americans. Therefore, it is only by being a member of a global group, either social, political, economic or scientific that societies will survive and flourish to their highest potential with being equal with others who achieved the most in global domains.

    The existence of societies is no more local. It is global and therefore global means, global knowledge and global modes of thinking are indispensable part and parcel of any political constructs or political domains.
    It is therefore in this direction that you need to prepare a political platform and create a political domain to bring our society to the level of contemporary societies, not by creating shelves of ethnicities and teaching them an extreme backward ideas of shelf management of socialism how to live locally by being and remain different.

    Imagine for a moment, if this boutique management politics of socialism is imposed in America where all races and ethnicities of mankind exist, practically life will simply stop, because of the story : “The tower of Babel” that we read in the Bible.

    The good thing is that American founders were wise enough, they did not create such a shelf management constitution.

    Political structure should be built in looking at three coordinates of the modern demand:
    (1) local coordinates
    (2) global coordinates
    (3) time coordinates

    Therefore any political action of a society should be described in these three coordinates. It is in this case that you look what you have to do locally in order to belong globally in a specific time frame.

    These are the things Ethiopia and Ethiopians need now and beyond.

    Good Luck!

    Dejenie A. Lakew, Ph.D.
    (Mathematician)

  12. Anonymous on

    Dear Massey, all the previous regimes were trying to decide the fate of people based on their own interest. What you are telling us is the same. People can decide what is appropriate for them. Do not try to impose the interest of certain group one the others. At least you you know there are others group who do not support your ideas. It is the people who can decide this not individuals or groups.Please let people decide their fate.After all no one can do that.

  13. Ahmiti on

    Messay,
    Yes, multinatinal and multi religious countries need some sort of consent to be viable and long lasting. If not resistence and instabilty are the outcomes. I find the interjection of Stalin at every levels of discussion unhelpful. Focusing more on the ideas than on personalities is more fruitful.

  14. Yohannes Ejigu on

    I like the idea of ” If I were a president…” and thumbs up for Dr Messay’s input. It is a good start entertaining ideas and broaden outlooks and devise the priorities among countless priorities of todays Ethiopia.

  15. Assta B. Gettu on

    Dejenie A. Lakew #6,

    Economic globalization is not like 2+2 = 4; it is more complex than math’s formula you have memorized to solve any given algebraic equation.

    Generally speaking, what has economic globalization contributed, something important, something beneficial, and something tangible, to the millions of Ethiopian farmers and to the millions of American factory workers rather than destroying their normal living standards?

    The only people who are benefiting from this new economic globalization are the ones like Meles Seitanawi, his wife Jezebel, Al Amoudi, and some extremely wealthy Arabs and Westerners.

    You wrote: “…it is only by being a member of a global group, either social, political, economic or scientific that societies will survive and flourish to their highest potential….” Why don’t you be specific when you write down this long sentence and unscientific at that? Why don’t you simply say that it is only by joining the wealthy thieves, Meles Seitanawi, his wife Jezebel, Al Amoudi, Arabs, and Westerners that the Ethiopian peasants and the American workers will prosper, flourish, and enjoy life?

    How come you forget so easily that there was a society in America and elsewhere that was prosperous, vibrant, and flourishing before the creation of globalization and before the introduction of NAFTA; however, that prosperous middle class American society collapsed after the introduction of economic globalization and NAFTA. (I always condemn President Clinton for only two mistakes he has made while he was a president: NAFTA and the Bosnian War.)

    Because of economic globalization, several companies in America and other countries lost their money; high-paying jobs were gone to foreign countries, and “out sourcing” became a household word or a common vocabulary; therefore, high-paying jobs were replaced by low-paying jobs, and the United States could not compete with foreign companies who use cheap labors.

    Some cultures of poor countries are also highly endangered by highly developed countries, and as more people try to join globalization, it is undoubtedly they would lose their social, ethical, and moral values.

    The single and biggest problem of poor countries like Ethiopia is, however, competition. The Ethiopian farmers who use oxen and horses to plow their farmlands cannot compete with mechanized countries. As a result, the government of Ethiopia has no other choices but to sell some Ethiopian fertile farmlands and beautiful young Ethiopian kids to the wealthy foreigners so that the Woyanne government can have some foreign currency that enable Meles the thief to compete with global economy.

    For poor countries like Haiti and Ethiopia, to compete with global economy is like the Amharic saying: ድመት እንደ ውሻ እጮሃለሁ ብላ ተሰንጥቃ ሞተች (A cat attempting to roar like a lion, suddenly burst out and passed away.”

    In short, globalization is the effective means of exploitation by the wealthy, and it is the killer of the middle class in America and the destroyer of the Ethiopian farmers.

    Using your math skill, you have put three coordinators to support your global idea, but they do not work and never worked in countries where the poor always outnumber the rich.

    I am sure you understand what happened to “The Tower of Babel.” Otherwise, you could not have written it down here if you have no clue about the history of this tower.

    The “Tower of Babel” represents the globalization of the world: In the Biblical times, some people tried to build a high tower that riches into heaven so that they could dominate the entire universe; unfortunately, they failed because their motives – to rule the entire world – were wrong. In the same way, globalization that destroys our language, our culture, our tradition, our history, our religion, our economy, and our boundaries is not good either for Ethiopia or for other developing countries.

  16. Assta B. Gettu on

    Helen #7,

    When it comes to the disintegration of Ethiopia, force is necessary and justified by any means to keep the unity of Ethiopia intact.

    During the American bloody Civil War, Abraham Lincoln fought hard to keep the Union, and the secessionist South, defeated and humiliated, joined the victorious North, and later on, America became the only powerful nation on earth.

    We may not be as powerful as America, but we can be able to defend our borders if we stay united, respecting each individual’s right as far as each person remains with a united Ethiopia. There is no individual right for any person who works tirelessly to divide Ethiopia and incur painful destruction. No one is free if he/she wants to be free by leaving a united Ethiopia, but everyone living in a united Ethiopia is free to exercise his/her freedom according to the new constitution of a united Ethiopia – a constitution that could be crafted as soon as Meles Seitanawi leaves office.

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