MEDREK article 39: Ato Bulcha and Ato Gebru


Desalegn Deressa 09/06/09

To be honest the MEDREK folks are trying to answer some public questions like why is UDJ joining their camp? The question should have been answered by UDJ since it is the only organization that claims to represent all Ethiopians and wants to join MEDREK, a joint forum of  ARENA, Dr  Beyene group,  Dr Merara  as well as Ato Siye and Dr Negasso who are representing some of our diverse nationalities.  VOA Amharic much like the FOX news channel for the opposition politics in Ethiopia has found a cover for UDJ so it can join MEDREK, in broad day light, so to speak! That cover(  listen) is MEDREK will remove the word “eske megentel” (up to secession) Article 39 from the Ethiopian constitution. It has not specified or disclosed how the process of removing an article is going to come about.  Is it giving lip service with the only interest of gaining power but time will tell.

An alternative party should be able to educate and explain to its followers how an important article such as Article 39 is going to be tampered with or modified.  There is a serious confusion that is being disseminated by Medrek since it is not disassociating itself from the backward way of thinking that amorphously propagates “Ande Ethiopia” with total undermining of the rights of nations and nationalities.  Unless the conglomerate organizations that call themselves Medrek are stuck with their old way of thinking they should be able to openly disclose what their stand is in so far as the rights of nationalities is concerned.  Article 39 came into the picture due to the years of oppression that the diverse nationalities faced. 

 The idea of secession should be taken within the context of oppression.  If there is no oppression and deprivation of right then no one will raise the idea of secession.  However, if and only if there is an oppressor government then the right is recognized and that in and of itself does not automatically grant secession, it has a life of its own which requires diligent process.  Those that only talk about Article 39 and only focus on secession are the ones that are rubbing in on separation and indirectly and subtly pushing the idea of separation.  Article 39 in fact makes more emphasis on respecting the rights of nationalities and so far the diverse nationalities have demonstrated that with their rights respected they are united and currently leading the country towards prosperity. 

Ato Bulcha explaining the removal of the wording told VOA that removing “up to and including secession” from Article 39 does not imply that MEDREK is against the rights of nations and nationalities! Paraphrasing his words he said if any of the nation and nationalities demands to ascertain their rights, he says the constitution that MEDREK intends to rewrite will guarantee the right to secession from the federal union!  According to Ato Bulcha MEDREK believes that the constitution reminds the diverse nationalities about “megentel” secession every time the constitution is read.  Thus, Ato Bulcha continues that the word should be removed. Ato Bulcha does not want people to think about secession at all!  I don’t think anyone in his/her right mind in this day and age will remind people to secede! Oh yes, the ONLF and OLF will no doubt but they don’t have the interest of the people in mind so that would not be a surprise! But not the TPLF says Ato Gebru Asrat chairperson of Arena.

Ato Gebru Asrat during his lengthy (  discussion) with forum participants at gezategaru pal talk room on 9/5/2009 said his organization respects and accepts Article 39 without any minus. But he said “megentel” has never been the means to the end even in TPLF! He told audiences other countries with federal arrangements never had “megentel” in their constitution thus it should not be a crime if MEDREK removes the secession aspect in article 39. This came from a man who spent his entire political life fighting to respect and uphold nation and nationalities right to the fullest. It is true in today’s Ethiopia people are happily becoming proud Ethiopians! The reason may be many but I am sure one of them is because the many nations within are not subjected, undermined like before and the constitution guarantees their right  through Article39!

The EPRDF organization has been from its inception working hard to cement the strong bond between our diverse populations. It has been building bridges to unite the population under one strong federal union. One of the bridge pillars rests on the strong foundation and belief that our nation and nationalities have the right to speak their language, develop their culture and run their state government as they see fit. Article 39 was born to ensure the rights of nationalities due to the years of subjugation and inequities the great majority experienced by previous governments. Secession is not what Article 39 is all about. It guarantees and when there is oppression then the nationalities have the right to secede.  If any governing party in Ethiopia fails to uphold the constitution and undermines our nations and nationalities then Article 39 recognizes the right!  To recognize the right does not mean propagating secession it simply means there is neither room for oppression nor any tolerance for inequity.

 To assume MEDREK endorses the Article 39 as a rallying campaign material today is to be naďve. MEDREK agreed to this modification to only allow and appease UDJ and to temporarily open the back door alley to UDJ in order to lure it in. The problem is not which door UDJ uses to enter MEDREK or which “ansola” UDJ wears to join MEDREK. The question that really needs to be answered is who is UDJ representing? Is it representing Tigreans, OROMOs, Gurages, Afars, or Wolayitas? What is the difference between UDJ and ARENA if they both claim to represent the Tigrai people’s interest? Does UDJ think the Red Sea is Ethiopia’s national frontier as the ARENA chairman is quoted to have said recently?  What is the difference between Ato Bulcha’s and UDJ group when it comes to the interest of the Oromo people, which both are claiming to represent? Naturally if their claim is the same then one would pose the question and ask “if there is no difference at all then why the entire alphabet soup “sebseb” in MEDREK?”

Ato Bulcha is an honest old man and some folks may be taking advantage of him. In his explanation to the change of heart when it comes to Article 39’s wording, he said people should not misinterpret to mean that MEDREK will fight against any secession demand. If Ato Bulcha allows me to give him my advice I suggest that he please ask UDJ folks to come out on VOA and say it out loud…the reason we are removing “eske megentel” from the constitution is because we do not want people to be reminded about “megentel” (secession) all the time when they read the constitution, otherwise we will respect our nation and nationalities right to the fullest! I can imagine how supporters like Al Mariam will spin what “fullest” means. Never mind let me finish the question myself hoping against hope UDJ will say as such in the near future?  Dr Yacob or Dr Hailu now that you have agreed to nation and nationalities right under Article 39 does that mean you are agreeing to the Killil political map that has basically become the default nation and nationality boundary? If so would you use arms to stop the process of separation if the people in Afar or Tigrai or Amara demand separation? Where do you put the boundary for the nation and nationality right in your constitution? Shshshs I better not say “megentel” so they don’t hear!