Democracy and its Trade-off: Ethiopia’s Path to National Reconciliation (Messay Kebede, PhD)


Awramba Times is a US based online journal providing up-to-date news and analysis about Ethiopia email us:

You may also like...

25 Responses

  1. Hayelom says:

    I think the problem with the contemporary situation in Ethiopia is the ruling party’s “I am the only one who cares for this country” motto and the failure of the “opposition” parties to present themselves as “alternative” ones.

    Besides, many individuals are in politics just for the sake of money. Those in the ruling party secure a job, get a house and such. And those in the opposition talk trash on TV and Radio and secure a fund from individuals who have no better way to wast money. Should we expect such individuals to bring positive change to their party?

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”-Edmund Burke.

    It behooves upon erudite, considerate Ethiopians to rectify things. This article is a good start professor Messay. Keep it up!

  2. yohannes says:

    he is pro but he didn’t noting to his country but he live u s a he enjoy his life don’t till as about any thing first serve your country !!

  3. bruck says:

    Looks like the usual one sided comment of the diaspora schollars. The article exagerates the sin of the gov’t while totally ignoring what has been achieved in the past few years. How can there be any reconciliation when you dont give any credit to the gov’t’s effort? for the roads constructed, for the health services provided to remot rural areas, for the construction of dams,railways,schools,universities……. reconciliation starts when you start to see both sides. I think you had enough of the bad side, open your eyes to see the good ones professor. Then reconciliation comes.

  4. axumawe says:

    dear messay !
    let me say this,i have no problem with your political Anallises.but where i disagree with you completely is,where you train to discredited Tplf,you know you intent to come to power, you love to have 4 you sound like a midditer.
    let me say this, your phd, your knowledge is good for nothing for as. for Ethiopians in general.
    instead of lecturing as from America, have the got come to the country who paid your tuition in order for you to be come to where you are to day .
    transfer all the knowledge you have in you to the young and vibrant Ethiopians of the 21st centuries, if they think there is any use from it ?
    have the conscious mind to be fear and reasonable in your common sense, if you have one sir.i know you have the write to express your thought,but is your thought have any impact in today’s Ethiopia ? or is it poison covered with sweat words ? that is where the judgement lies on.
    b/c Ethiopia have so many of them like you including in the ruling party.yes i am saying the ruling party.
    you live in the state as i understand. what do you see in American politics ?
    heat based politics ?
    ethnic politics ?
    what can you and the opposition like you can learn from the USA politics ?which can be learned to change our country ?
    don’t you think our society and the society where you live have at-list 225 years of different, democratic politics and experianses (or is it not by Tplf,not by tegrians) well i have some good and bad news for you .
    1)Tplf didn’t get hand over so they well never ever hand it over to yous in general.
    2)you have it for over 100 years you just sleept on it it well not coming back to yous soon it is going round and round by then yous all you well be in your graves. i am telling it the way it go in to my main point
    so how can you expect Ethiopian politics from feudal society can be equal with 225 years old American politics ? Mr phd
    do you forget 85% of Ethiopians are peasants ? and the American Europeans Canadians are already in imperialist stage going to monopolize the world.
    i know i am not politically phd like you but not stupid.
    i can put it one and one. when the republicans want to throw the democrats they challenge them in every public needs and public improvementswher they see wickedness to remove them from power.
    can you tell me any opposition in Ethiopia or abroad who can challenge Eprdf with how they can create better Ethiopia,better govern ans in Ethiopia ?
    pleas name one?
    why b/c they just want 4 killo that’s all.(yetem-fechew dooketun amchew)that is what Ethiopian oppositions are.
    but i well have good faith on EDPA they well be the future strong Challenger for know what? if i was you, i well pack and throw my feudalistic,dogmatic,and chovinest Amharic superiority old feelings for good and attend church.
    let live Ethiopia for the young and vibrant new generation of today’s Ethiopia tanx.
    as all ways long live Ethiopia !
    long live Eprdf !
    long live woyen !
    wedket L tmkhtgnoch extremest balubet !!

  5. Abdi says:

    ያለ ብሄራዊ እርቅና መግባባት የሚመጣ ለውጥ ያው ከአጥፎቶ መጥፋት አዙሪት እንዳንወጣ ያረገናል። ዶር መራራ በቅርቡ በፃፉት መፅሐፍም ላይ የብሄራዊ እርቅን አስፈላጊነት በአፅኖት ገልፀዋል። እስካሁን ያልሞከርነው የሰለጠነ የፖለቲካ መንገድ ይህ ነው።

  6. adwa says:

    As do I always, No words to express my thanks to messay.

  7. Gezaee H. says:

    Dear Prof. Messay, you have been writing for long; But writing will not change anything in Ethiopia. What can bring change is actions. It does not matter whether you are opposition or pro EPRDF. What is needed is action, you have been proposing but who is going to implement them? Besides, people will have thier opinion, both friends or foes against or pro your beliefs. That is natural. But are we going to keep on talking forever?

    Egypt is preparing to attack us but we are fighting each other forever. Whatever ideas you have, please put them in practice on the ground.

    EPRDF is not good for Ethiopia; it does not matter what road it builts, because even Mussoloni did that. The question is ? who is better than EPRDF? The answer is none.

    Armed struggle is useless, expensive in terms of money, time, resources, lives and destructive. Those who believe in armed struggle are 100% wrong and do not know what they are doing. Why I say this? you can not bring peace by killing people. Life is a good school. Those of us who lived in war zone for 17 years know well what we have been through. it is not my fault I was born in war zone and grew up in war zone. Why? The entire Tigreans was made refugees, the entire Eritreans were made refugees. About 100 000 Tigreans perished in armed struggle. Family was destroyed or entire family wiped by war on both sides. There are still Eritreans who live in refugee camps in Sudan. There 100 000 Eritreans who live in refugee camps now for more than 50 years. Can you believe it? There are adult Eritreans born and grown up in refugee camps. Your heart breaks when you see them coming to North America after 50 years living in refugee camps. How many Eritrean youth died? forget the sufferings of people up to now?

    Do you think that the armed struggle was worth all that? what did Eritreans or Tigreans or Ethiopian in general got after all that blood shed? nothing, this is a proof that armed struggle can not change anything only destroys thing. In the first place, how can you give freedom while you think already you have to kill those whom you call enemies? Freedom is not for some people only. It is for all including perceived enemies.

    EPRDF is not good; but oppositions are worst. That is the big problem now. If there were any good opposition, then trust me, you can change EPRDF in one day. I am telling you in one day.You do not need to waste lives, resources, and time and energy destroying lives, properties.

    I am against EPRDF, but unfortunately, there is none that can challenge EPRDF.May be only me in the near future if God allows. It is true TPLF must have been removed long ago, but thanks to Diaspora who work hard and actively for EPRDF without any pay because they foster division, hatred, … among us. Diaspora has given EPRDF a long lease of life. So in my opinion, opposition is dead and buried at this stage. None of them has ideology except ethnic culting. I am saying none, all are formed as Amhara or Oromo, tigrean or … other affiliated which is not good for the country in the future.

    Whatever you say, be ready to implement. Because you write and post, it does not mean someone Ethiopians will pick it and do it for you. I know your concerns are genuine and you are not hated loaded one as Almariam is but we need action that brings all our people in one umbrella. An ideology that is inclusive, all respecting, recognize different cultures, religions, languages,… not an ideology that says one Ethiopia one langauge one culture, one tradition. This is the cause of conflict. Derg had better ideologies than all the current opposition and EPRDF. I mean it from my heart. Besides derg did not stand by itself during the cold because of the cold war problem and the venurability of Ethiopia to outside force, and putting aside the brutality of the derg, it had the best premises of unity. The only problem of derg was Amhara dominance which it could not eliminate without affirmative action. There was no time for that. They had better policies on national interest than any of today.

    Anyway, we need to have a brand new ideology that give revence to any life in Ethiopia including insects that has a breathe and until we come up with such ideology, we will be playing ground of Eggypt because G7 is now sponsored by Egypt. Not to benefit Ethiopia, but to keep Ethiopia bleeding. The PHD economist can not even see this one.

    Action is needed , EPRDF can not have any power if we unite as people for one clear national agenda that recognize and protect our people from Ogaden to Massawa. I do not recognize Eritrea as a country. This is my dream one day. I wanted to travel one day from Ogaden to Massawa by train with no ethnic or racial or religious tag. God help me for this vision of mine.

    • Hibistu says:

      Hello Gezae,
      I am impressed by your articulation and kind and measured response to Prof. Messay’s article. With the kind of arguments yo u forwarded I am of the opinion that you could be one of those good Ethiopians who have the political knowledge and acumen but lack the will to make a difference by their action. The criticism you pointed towards Messay seems to work on you. Get up and organize with people who share your vision. Yes, you can. Don’t wait for big names like Messay to come and organize you. Their time has passed, now it is your time. Messay is doing what YEHAGER SHIMAGELE of his stature needs to do. I wish the other intelllectuals are engaging like him rather than waiting for thier retirement to start their irresponsible politiking. It is my opinion that retirees who want to start politics only after a comfortable retirement is secured should be banned. But people like Prof. Messay who stay engaged must be supported and ttheir ideas discussed.

  8. GETACHEW REDA says:

    From- GETACHEW REDA (Editor Ethiopian Semay)——

    ———-Negotiation is impossible with TPLF government until TPLF face equal force of threat to its power which is holding the power by force and other means (murdering, arresting, intimidating, dividing, fabricating, lying discriminating, using the national wealth, media, jurisdiction, police, electoral board for its own usage only…).———————————
    ————————TPLF by its blood (its creation) never came to power through negotiation. It came through killing and intimidation. If there was any negotiation it conducted in its history, it was in its early stage in Dedebit base with strong verity outlaws of the Dedebit force. Out of that, it never knew any. If it does, it must be threaten by equal force.————————-
    —————-It is also true at the current situation only a force that threatens its power is the only means to force TPLF into a negotiation force or table. When I say force, I meant three types of force. (1) armed/military force (2) peaceful people’s revolution (strong storm of public opposition against the ruling system) (3) military coup.————————
    —————-Those three are the only means to ring TPLF into a table of negotiation. Out of this, TPLF by its nature and its fascistic record, it will never surrender or come to negotiation to compromise its power. It tells you right away, even here its cults are telling you “we fought hard for power and the blood of our brothers and sisters is not for compromise”. They fought for power contest and they got it through the force they knew and planned. Te next opposition has to follow one of the two I mentioned above to force TPLF for negotiation.——————————
    —————-In fact, as I always and for years and still even now, my position of argument is that TPLF will never prosecuted or face justice in the future or will not compromise its power to any group unless threaten. When it threatens, it will compromise and ask the negotiating group for clemency and free its criminals from prosecution if the coming group wants to take power. —————————
    ———————As I can see the opposition from their weak mouth- such as Merera Gudina, Engineer Gizachew (the pathetic and opportunist fellow) and the rest already pass their judgment of authority “we will not prosecute anyone for its past crime”. They did this without counseling the victims. You can hear their interview with Addis Dimts radio some times last year. This kind of opposition does not care for victims as long as they take that power. I fear these kinds of elements if they come to power, because they have disregard to the human abuse and victims’ family by compromising their case for justice. –—————————–
    ————-TPLF power always fears “justice”. Because it committed a lot of crimes. Us along as any one tells the criminal TPLF group – their crime to be decriminalized, it will be happy to compromise its power when threaten by force. They will be happy to go away with the national crime they did, racketeering, and accumulation of wealth and so on. So, there is no way out until the three things that I mentioned become reality. TPLF will never give up power unless threaten (in fact any power is that way). ———————
    ————–Professor.Messay, I did not read your article, but just looking at the word negotiation- I can understand what it means. It is based on that I am commenting. I will read your paper later.————

  9. Gebremedhin, E. Phd says:

    We are going further away from having any democracy or for that matter a united one nation. The free market or capitalist economic system is being disolved in a fast pace right now. For example vegetable farmers near Nazret(Adama)cannot move around to other parts of Ethiopia and sell their products at any market they wish per Prime Minster Hailemariam Desalegn. This is a complete strategy which is returning the country to a pre 1991 economic system. The Hailemariam Desalegn adminstration is working hard to set the country back to stone age, with no hope for freedom and growth. For any nation’s democracy to flourish the people need to be able to have hope for a brighter future. Currently we are seeing the adminstration working hard to put out the little democratic light that was lit by the former Prime Minster’s adminstration and calling it reconciliation. What Ethiopia needs right now is to discourage unconstitutional activities.The government need to stop discourageing farmer’s from their constitutional right of competing in any market to sell their products.

  10. Kulfo says:

    Dear Messay

    On the one hand you pretend like a “mediator” and offer a “win-win” proposal. But, ….. Is it genuine? Is it really emanated from the bottom of your heart? I don’t think so.

    Shouldn’t the ABC of mediation stipulate the necessity to empathize with each party’s perspective, while maintaining neutrality in the dispute?

    Do you expect the heart and minds of TPLF while you are using derogatory, inflammatory, and belittling statements like below?

    Please read some your own phrases and statements and tell me if any TPLFite could take your advice seriously.

    “It [government] is ruled by an incompetent, mediocre, self-serving, and divided group”.

    “TPLF still shows a remarkable determination to retain its hegemonic position at all costs”.

    “… this mediocre government, whose only expertise is corruption and repression, cannot stop this deterioration by itself.”

    “… what unites members of the ruling party is not shared appreciation, but survival, which is their only goal”.

    Next time, when you write an article on the issue, please be honest at least for yourself. Writing for the sake of writing is useless.

    My suggestion is, either stand behind the opposition- and bombard the ruling party from A to Z, or be a man to take the middle ground with no string of partiality. Especially from a seasoned professor like you (especially in the field of philosophy), one shouldn’t read such a juvenile gaffe.


    • axumawe says:

      @ Kulfo.let me say this this geezaee,getachow reda,messay and so on,they have deep heat rate to Eprdf specially to Tplf,well it is what it is Tplf never handed over power from any one !!!!!!and they well never ever hand it over to yous.the only way to be heard by the Ethiopian people is bow to the constitution of Ethiopia. no matter who in power is.end of story!!
      EPRDF IS IN POWER YOUS NEED TO ACCEPT THAT 1ST.have you read grma kassa article he new his political carrier is over in the coming election .
      he is up for seal if he well get any buyer KKK.
      this Amara extremest Diasporas are doing it b/c they make money from every diaspora.
      so, Kulfo to my point don’t expect clarity from this PHDS,they are just board, and retired they have plenty’s of time,also they don’t care,they don’t mean it at all trust me !
      long live ETHIOPIA !

  11. Mario says:

    This guy doesn’t know what he is talking about at all! Reconciliation with who? Politics in Ethiopia is changed!

    In the democratically developed countries they start their polititics where they are known as a people,& their services to the people!

    When they decided to be a politician, they don’t just preach about the USA or UK , but about local! Therefore please go where you grew up & serve the & let the people choose you & send you to the federal level!

    With whom is the reconciliation? The freedom fighters & Dergists who lost the fight? With Haters & power hungry bunches? You don’t understand what you are talking about Mr! There shouldn’t be any reconciliation with haters at all! Hate can’t produce anything & Haters are losers anyway! We have been reading your writings & the likes for a while, but haven’t read anything useful for Ethiopia!

    Ethiopia has left you 22 year behind, if you don’t get out of your opposition for the simple reason of opposing , you will be left fruitless!

  12. abe says:

    What a wasted mind!!!
    This good Dr. is still stuck in TPLF this Tigray that…outdated miserably failed agenda of the very few extremist. What’s TPLF role in today’s Ethiopia?I very much disagree with the connotation that TPLF has the upper hand Ethiopian politics.It was Meles then,and Hailemariam is in charge now.Some in the diaspora refuse to see the reality.
    Dr Messay you need to upgrade yourself to current reality , stop recycling outdated principles,you are wasting our valuable time.If you want to be part of Ethiopia’s transformation? COME,stop crying from faraway..

  13. abdul says:

    Hi Ethiopian falks,

    I do have a problem with Showa Amaharians their point of views.why the Ethiopian daispora refused to accept the country development? Why only the Amaharians reject federalism system. Why the Amaharian have 39 opposition parties? If the Amharian can’t united themselves how are they going to unite the rest region? What is the Amharian demand? By the way is there Amhara tribe? Where Amhara come from?pls help me out. Have a nice day!!!!!!!

  14. MMzeleke says:

    thanks axumawe

  15. kagnew says:

    @axumawe and bruck,
    Just shut ur mouth and learn. He is aiming at saving you and the country from demise.

  16. Beaman says:

    Professor Mesay,
    I have a respect for your opinion and scholarly contribution in the Ethiopian political sphere; a shift in the political and sociological course in Ethiopia has always been an issue if in fact we needed to transform the nation; but there are some in the elites who solely address the repression under the motto of “ethnic federalism” which brought about the equal representation of nationalities in the political system; undeniably we are at a time where we see it taking course for the last 22 years, but still coated with the mere occurrence, the repression however less intense, is still a matter of fact, although it is illusively on the run, but the other side of the flip is how Ethiopians were in a continued repression for decades under the rhetoric and bravado of the greater Ethiopian sentiment.
    are you and the likes or you willing to admit the fact that Ethiopians were repressed under the motto of “the great,united and historical Ethiopia bravado.”this motto had been a means to oppress Ethiopians; still at this current situation, whereby the longstanding course is diminishing, how likely is it that ardent elites with still missing these d divisive days change their arrogance and make contributions to formulate the sole viable option of representative democracy? How much are you devoted in playing out genuine and workable opinions and also where will your scholarly and citizenry contribution in averting, diverting and deterring such exclusionary opinions of the political elite who specially are in foreign countries and would love to see the country in chaotic and disorderly manner?

  17. Tas Harsi says:

    The problem with Messai Kebede and others is trying to create a problem that does not exist. What national reconciliation is he talking about ? Why compare South Africa with Ethiopia ? Where is the connection here ? I think what is he saying is that since I am incapable of creating a formidable party to compete with EPRDF by presenting an obective alternative the people can believe and vote for why do not I confuse the diaspora by pretending if it was not for the ruling party I could have done miracles with my PhD. When are you going to understand that democracy does not work by remote control and it takes hard work very hard at that. Stop bring old ideas move with the times doc.

  18. abo maltate says:

    what the hell you are talking about mr jewahir oromo activist for god sake have some brain oromo have five thousend years history you said every one has got its own leaders culture writing not realy have manscript.

    let me say one thing for you when god gave bibel or quran never gave to every nation around the world don’t be angry for that its for arabs and for israelits full stop.

    now you said five thousend years ago what was the population of oromo forget that abissinia population if you calculate that its gone be 1000 the nation was one family then gradualy it developes its language gradualy so all this centuary there are documented ethiopian history including every one who lives around thats all black ethiopian the language the color developed and changed gradualy unless its all one small family.

    today full like you compare 35 million oromo have its own history go back thousened years thats what we talking about.

    today you wake up accusing minilik killed this and that.
    when you said amhara or others have written language that was what i said god never give to bible or quran to every one landu endiglestlt yadergale.

    in one family one can have smart and invent some thing after long run you gone isolet him becouse god only make him lucky why not me we need to share what we got appreciat my friend.

    you might say amhara other tigrai and others but tribes and language developes and change one thing can not change the people live around have the same blood that will prove you the nation are one family. negati!

  19. sewerait says:

    the article misquotes current Ethiopia. The writer remains true to himself in galvanizing hate politics against TPLF. The problem is he failed to acknowledge the emerging new aspiring generation which rejects the political gospel of Messaye and Co. This is the program of MEISON and is not new in content. But Messaye could have done justice if he dares to explains why political parties or groups organised and led outside the country by exiled groups including that of MEISON failed . Second he could have further explained that it is very difficult to capture the changes in Ethiopia and it is more difficult from out side . There is what we called reality check
    Messaye as adviser ; have he in any way succeeded in offering the best marketable advise . to my knowledge no,
    when he was a teacher in AAU, have he produced intellectuals? for me the answer is no. otherwise he has to explain.
    was he intelligent as a student? yes from Lycsee to Paris.
    was he political animal? no. he cannot lead a group of five or less
    if not he has to tell us

  20. azmatch says:

    Prof. Messay’s article or writing is always the same. Instead of providing balance opinion, he always blames EPRDF. He needs to look into dysfunctional Diaspora opposition that can not even learn from the deomcratic practices in the countries they are in. They are incapable of practicing what they preach. Look at what some are Develpoment brings independence, democratic thinking institutional change.
    The dams, roads, schools, health institutions are not EPRDF’s, they belong to Ethiopians and will always be there even when there is change in government. An opposition that doesn’t understand this is not an opposition that thinks for the country to develop or for democracy but wants to keep the people in bondage.

  21. Beaman says:

    Professor Mesay has often times get the respect of spesking his mind and what is equivalently required to do is challenge his ideas and show how it would never go the way he wish, whether or not his articles in effect address the ethnic based representative governance or wanted to act as catalyst for any form of unrest is a matter of being oblivious about what the current political system had made significant canges in averting the starvation of Ethiopians in the North of the country,mainly wollo and Tigray, 90% of the kids are accodated with schools in their villages, best health care system in Africa, about 30 universities, access to tap water, electric city, highways, transportation facility in remote areas which were an accounted for decades and many more other things including to the extent of innoculating a new way of looking at things and rationale thinking on the basis of fairness among the society are the ones surfacing on the layers of the nation.

    Although I disagree with Professor Mesay with many issues, with respect, still he is entitled to remain with facts that he had marked been for many years, so yey considering the current system as insignificant, embarrassing and TPLF led government, well it is what he wanted to say still un able to accept that on the history of the nation only this tome has proved the representation of all nationslities in the sydtem of governsnce uniquely msling them happy; I know the son of Mr.Kebede would not be hsppy sbout the equality that exudted now; sorry, this is what had happened!!

    In factual approach, it is assumed by many as he was the ideologue of the regime of Memgistu[DERG], and what would one anticipate from such a person who is unable to admit all these canges in the life of Ethiopuans. The regime of Mengistu had almost killed hundreds of thousamds of students and people of all walks of life, left the nation in to incrssant civil war, and did every thing it could to make the people undergo a misrable life on the face of the planet.

    pro. mesay, you need to behave in a way who live under the prassure of rationale and present an alternative openion which gives appreciation to this regime that had made a profound alteration which would never view a revert in to the days of “I lnow what is best for you,” and hence, as nothing is petfect, we know we have serious issues to be addressed;and from there things would be crafted as to how the changes from EPRDF style representative democracy to a different sort of tepresentative democracy, if at all favored by all ethnics and natiomslities.

  22. Mario says:

    Mr Messay

    The people have no problem! The problem is:only the with power hungry bunches! The Ethiopian people have no problem with anybody! Trying to satisfy your power hunger in the name of the people is a futile attempt! Time bygone is gone forever not not to come back! He has no idea what he is talking about! Ethiopia won’t be the employment opportunity land of families,friends, in laws ,stooges…..! Gov’t officials must be elected by the people according to their services to the people! Now , power is distributed from Addis to the people in every kilil! This shows that Addis isn’t a source of power, but the people !

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *