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and the need to share our humiliation
By Hawi O.
(OPride) – The results are in. Ethiopia’s rubberstamp parliament, in a joint
session on Monday, approved Dr. Ambassador Mulatu Teshome Wirtu’s
nomination to be the next president of
As a result, the Oromo people have won the symbolic position of the
Ethiopian presidency for four consecutive terms. Dr. Negasso Gidada
was “elected” through similar parliamentary session in 1995 as the
first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
(FDRE) and became George Washington equivalent for the country. Upon
Dr. Negaso’s exit in 2001, Lieutenant Girma
also an Oromo became the John Adams of Ethiopia and
served for two terms that ended earlier this week. We now have Dr.
Mulatu, as the Thomas Jefferson equivalent of the FDRE.
No evidence is needed to show that the EPRDF parliament is deeply in
love with the Oromo people. But before celebrating this remarkable
achievement and the special privilege afforded to the Oromo people
by the ruling party, EPRDF, let us examine the powers and functions
of the Ethiopian president as described in Article 71 of the
The president’s first job is to open the joint session of the House
of Peoples’ Representatives and the House of the Federation at the
commencement of their annual sessions. Once a year he stands in
front of lawmakers and tells them that the new session has just
opened as if they could not have figured out that on their own. That
is it. His first job is done. And he is whisked back to his Palace
to perform other duties.
The second duty involves proclaiming in the Federal
Negarit Gazeta, the official legal publication in Ethiopia, laws
and international agreements approved by the House of Peoples’
Representatives in accordance with the Constitution. This might
sound as if he has to personally take a print ready copy of the
Gazette to Berhanena Selam Printing Press. No, it is not like that.
He simply puts his signature at the bottom of the page without
reading what is written on it. Why bother reading since he cannot
change it any way, right? An illiterate person can do this job
without any problem. What the parliament approved is a law of the
land whether the president signs it or not.
The third and fourth duties of the president are to serve as an
errand boy for the Prime Minister. In this capacity, the president
tells newly appointed ambassadors that the Prime Minister has
appointed them to Ethiopian missions around the world. He also
welcomes new foreign ambassadors when they arrive in the country.
Giving award medals, prizes, gifts, and high military titles to
whomever the Prime Minster has selected is the Ethiopian president’s
fifth and sixth job responsibility. The seventh and final job of the
president is to grant pardon to prisoners, who have already been
pardoned by other people, including the prime minister.
In none of these constitutionally allowed duties does the president
have a decision making power. He only performs what the Prime
Minster or a third party tells him to. He has to do the job whether
he likes it or not. He is completely powerless to even say yes or no
We must first ask why such a job should be given to any human being.
Aren’t there better ways of using human power, and a very skilled
one at that? Why doesn’t the EPRDF give the job to a robot since it
does not require the ability to think? Anyone who has taken an
introductory computer science class can program a robot to
flawlessly perform the duties of the Ethiopian president. Therefore,
the EPRDF must assign robots as presidents and spare humans the
humiliation associated with the position.
Another question we must ask is why does the Ethiopian President
have to be always an Oromo? We know that the president has no power
but why do Oromos have to always be appeased with such a powerless
position? In other words, why does the Ethiopian president have to
be an Oromo First, Second, Third, and Fourth given that Jawar
Mohammed did not appear on Aljazeera when all this started? Does
this not suggest that the Ethiopian presidency is a symbol of Oromo
powerlessness? Why are Oromos given this humiliating position all
the time? Since
is a federation of about 80 nations, nationalities, and peoples, why
don’t they all share the humiliation equally?
The current practice must change so that all the 80 ethnic groups
can share the position of Ethiopian presidency on a rotating basis.
This would be simple and fair. Since the term of the president is 6
years, every ethnic group will assume the position every 480 years.
This means no one will see a member of his ethic group humiliated by
being named President more than once during his/her lifetime.
But Oromos must be given credit for the three terms of humiliation
they have already endured and for fourth one they have just took up.
In other words, Oromos must be given credit for their service so far
and not be encumbered with the position until every nation,
nationality, and people has served four terms each.
This means starting from 2019 when Dr. Mulatu’s term ends, Oromos
should be given a credit of 1, 896 years (4 x 6 x 79) before being
humiliated again with the position of Ethiopian presidency. Hence,
no Oromo must be assigned Ethiopian president until 3915 AD.
Of course, this assuming no political change would take place in
in the next 110 years.
* Hawi O. is a Finfinne-based