If I were the president – Messay Kebede

EthiopianReview.com | February 13th, 2010

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)