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Decentralized Unitary Governance: A Poison Model Or A Panacea


The terms “centralization” and “decentralization” as new political phenomenon for governmental structures came into usage in France in 1794 and 1820 respectively. After the French revolution, in the mid 1800, Alexis De Tocqueville wrote an article about “a push towards decentralization” but at the end it becomes the extension of centralization [1]. Tocqueville as an advocate of decentralization stressed in his writing that decentralization has not only administrative value but also civic dimension. Similarly Maurice Block a French bureaucrat wrote an article in 1863 under the title “decentralization” to review the dynamics of government and bureaucratic centralization and the efforts of French at decentralization of government functions [2].

It is quintessential then, that we have to make a historical review in order to provide new theoretical insights into the changing nature of decentralized unitary governance. Vivien Schmidt in her book “Democratizing France: The political and administrative history of decentralization” has made a detailed account and interpretations to the historical patterns of decentralization in France. Usually decentralization is a response to the problem of “centralized unitary government,” that is to the abuse of power and undemocratic behavior of the ruling body, to the weakening of the private sectors, to the undermining civil liberties, and to blocking the demands of minorities for a greater says in local governance. Decentralization responds to the concept and demand of participation in decision making, democracy, equality, liberty, and distributive justice. Decentralization not only allows the devolvement of political and administrative power, but also ensures local efficiency, equity and development, and encourages civil society in the management of their affairs. In modern governance decentralization is described as a response to the demands of diversity [3]. Therefore, decentralization tackles to reduce conflicts and inequities on various diversities and regions that are caused by centralized unitary governance. As a process, decentralization always redefines continuously the structure and practice of government in order to bring citizenry and entities closer to the overall decision making of the political process of their nation.

This essay will examine the basic grievances expressed by the Eritrean diversities and how these grievances become the drive to the current centrifugal pulling of our social groups. By doing that, this author will assess the different governmental structure available in the literature and all decentralized unitary system in order to find the most suitable “governmental model” – the flexible toolkit that can keep our country united. Besides that, I will try to show the evolution and transformation of the old political dichotomy “Unitary verses Federalism” to the new political dichotomy “centralized unitary governance verses decentralized unitary governance” and how the central and local governments simultaneously and peacefully enacted – thereby we can make policy analysis and political judgments.

Historical Evolution of Decentralization

Although scholarly analysis of multi-level systems seem to have began with a few paragraphs in Aristotle’s politics [Treisman, 1996], old scholarships had always focused on the institutions of “centralized unitary government”. They had little or no to the idea of vertical structured government – with the devolution of powers into tiers along the distribution of responsibilities among the local governments and central government. “It doesn’t appear to strike them as interesting and relevant question as to how functions should be divided among central and local organs” [Finer, 1997 vol-1, pp 380]. Actually, “the state officials are mere mechanical devices resembling the nerves and tendons that move the several limbs of body naturally [Hobbes, 1968]. The co-ordination of the central and local governments moves the state machine harmoniously.

Despite the impulses of decentralization has come from different directions, the International Development Agencies has become also the proponent and co-agent as driving force for promoting decentralization. Between 1961 and 2005, the Inter-American Development Bank spent 671 million in loans for supporting decentralization and sub-national governments in Latin America [4]. Also from 1997 to 2003, the World Bank allocated up to 500 million a year on loan to decentralization projects [5]. While, “the International Community driven by empowerment and efficiency narratives has been an important driving force pushing for decentralization” [6] the United Nations’ capital development fund and food and agriculture organizations are both financing decentralization and local governments for African countries [ Morell, 2oo4]; especially those with cultural diversities.

Clairvoyance of “DUG” As A Concept: Old politics, New Arrivals

I am not in the business of plumbing terms and concepts, but I am here to increase the ability of the public to perceive matters and concepts beyond the range of ordinary perception to have a clear vision, or the clairvoyance on governmental structures and various concepts applicable to it. Without conventional concepts and terms, debates on governance are meaningless with no center of gravity to our actions and no structural discourse to our moves, we strive to accomplish. Certainly and of course, terms, concepts, and models will reflect in our arguments, as instruments in our debate, as beauty to our vision, and as clarity to our ideology and communications. Concepts are always evolved with time and space, so also their political dichotomy and political frames. For instance, those frames that were “unitary verses federal” are changed to “centralized unitary governance verses decentralized unitary governance.”

Decentralization unitary government (DUG) extends from the weakest decentralization “de-concentration” of power, that includes many Asian and South American countries to a highly “decentralized federalism” (Switzerland) and many in between including the US federalism. Some data-charts and flow-charts that depicts the frames and dichotomy can be observed in Fig-1 and Fig-2.

Interestingly enough, Azfar and Smith argued that “the federal state is not necessary more decentralized than that of the unitary government” in order to challenge the conceptual framing of Unitary verses federal on the degree of decentralization. In other words as “the line between decentralization, federalism, unitary states, centralized system become blurred” [Work, 2002], the concept of decentralized unitary governance become relevant in the new paradigm of structural definition of governance. Paradigmatically federal governments are categorized as “unitary decentralized government” on the debate of old politics, new arrivals, and new framing [see Fig-1 above left].

See above figure (on the left): it Depicts Federal states are also Decentralized Unitary states (Paul T. Levin, Institute of Turkish study, Stockholm University (see link in the references note)

“Federalism” and “decentralized unitary governance” are not dichotomy in nature (as substitute in principles) but indeed are continuum of a unitary state weakening the power of the central government (as complementary in principles). Consequently, in a broader concept “federal states” are included in to the structural concept of “decentralized unitary states” – that depict the dynamics in the development of decentralized unitary governance and the matrix of relationships.

From the chart, we can notice that there is no relevance in contrasting unitary and federal states. Both unitary and federal states have the same opportunity to promote either symmetrical or asymmetrical decentralization. And therefore, “the question of centralization and decentralization is simply a matter of proportion (or) a matter of finding the optimum degree (of proportion) for particular concern” [Cummings, 1995] in the coexistence of a governing system.

Equally though, Work (2002: 11) summed up in his discussion and provided us an interesting conclusion about the correlation between federal or unitary state with the degree of decentralization as follows:

“There is no broad generalization that can be made about the correlation of Federal/Unitary states and decentralization. Some federal states are  highly centralized – such as Malaysia, while some unitary states have high degree of decentralization – such as China.”

Indeed, that is why Buchanan has named the equilibrium point between unitary and federal state as the “competitive federalism.” Therefore, political systems and structures is a never ending process, always evolving to find an ideal form of governmental system that fits to every reality.

Decentralization has two primary forms: (a) democratic decentralization also called political decentralization or devolution (b) de-concentration also known as administrative decentralization [Ribot, 2004]. Further, Sherwood also described in terms of organizational patterns. According Sherwood, decentralization is described as an “intra-organizational” pattern of power relationships (power distribution in the central government); while devolution is described as “inter-organizational” patterns (power distribution between the central and the periphery) [Sherwood, 1969].

Hence what mode of governance is decentralized unitary governance? What does it propose in coping cultural pluralism and grievances? Decentralization is a mode of public governance that “proposes ways to cope with contextual diversities and cultural pluralism through division of the work of public governing among different levels of government” [Ruth & Gilles, 2010]. Despite decentralization has different interpretations and implementations, their common essence always remain the same and that is, strengthening local authorities through transfer of power and resources from the central government.

Paradigm And Typology of Decentralization

Rondinelli (1999) on his working paper “what is decentralization?” identified four types of decentralization, namely as (a) Political decentralization (b) administrative decentralization (c) fiscal decentralization (d) market decentralization. He further classified the administrative decentralization into (i) de-concentration (ii) delegation (iii) devolution. For purposes of simplicity, I will put myself into a flow chart to show the matrix of their relationships, omitting market decentralization this time for obvious reasons – and that is, it doesn’t fit to the economic development of our reality [fig-2].

This writer however, will advocate to an idea of political and administrative decentralization with the “devolution of power” to the provinces as administrative units and a “bicameral legislative” at the center with the power of fiscal responsibilities – all guaranteed by the constitution.

Indeed, Social groups suffered from marginalization necessitate organizing themselves in order to communicate their grievances and advocate for their rights. In our diversity, social interest becomes the driving force, where the ruling class of the majority dictates the minorities on national issue, whereby creating barriers for social intercourse. There is no a struggle for justice in Eritrea, if we don’t call for social justice to address the grievances of our social groups. This writer therefore advocate for a bicameral legislative body, one by equal representation of our social groups (akin to the resolution to the impasse of small and big states in the US constitution) and the other on proportional representation based on the population, as a remedy to their grievances.

See above Flow chart of decentralization of power ( on the right): From the flow chart, the Eritrean reality demands (a) political decentralization (b)administrative decentralization, and (c) devolution” to balance the centrifugal forces and centripetal forces that are at odd in our current reality.

Disentangling the Relationship of Federalism and Decentralization

The conceptual difference between decentralization and federalism is identified on how the power of the local governments is guaranteed. In federalism the power of the local government (states or otherwise) are constitutionally guaranteed and protected from the encroachment of the central government. Constitutional amendments are very stiff and require supermajority. In decentralization, the power of the local governments is not constitutionally guaranteed but rather they are protected by statutory laws. Statutory laws are superseded by similar statutory laws easily by the legislative body – thereby an erosion of power at anytime. In other words, decentralization addresses similar issue and similar promises by devolving power by the act of the center. In practice however, decentralization and federalism blend each other.

In African countries, federalism and decentralism arrive together as part of the same reform and democratic change. Federalism in Africa, therefore is not an act of separate unites coming together to form a federal union; rather it is part of the same reform, top down structural creation of a new constituted units with certain power enshrined in the their constitutions (Examples – Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya). The degree of decentralization, whether it is federal states, or mixed (federal states and autonomy units) or other type of decentralization, are always decided, based on two factors (a) population size of the artificially partitioned regional governments (b) economic resources of the administrative units.

Federalism can be achieved into ways (i) Coming-together-federations and (ii) Holding-together-federations. Coming-together-federation refers when sovereign states decided to form a federation voluntarily due to various reasons (security, administrative efficiency). Holding-together-federations are usually emerged after consensual parliamentary decisions to maintain unitary state by establishing multi-ethnic federal system, (to avoid or settle) ethnic, regional or other types of group conflict [Staphan, 2001:320-324]. Most multi-cultural societies prefer the holding-together-federal-system or decentralized unitary governance to address the grievances of multi-cultural groups.

In our Eritrean case, since most of our social groups are not sufficiently concentrated and lacks of compact settlement, the argument “ethnic-based administrative units” is not logical way for our reality. A bicameral legislative (as explained above) with co-equal power at the center will address the grievances and maintain the equilibrium of the parts [Hidrat, 2014].

Observable Advantages of DUG

Decentralized unitary governance gives the following assurances:

  • It makes government closer to the people
  • It makes local government to compete like investors
  • It makes easier for citizen to hold their representatives accountable
  • It encourages citizen’s participation
  • It protects individual liberty as a result of devolving political power to local governments.
  • It nurtures civic virtues and civic societies
  • It alleviates ethnic grievances
  • It makes “decentralized units” a laboratory of democracy.
  • It avoids Idiosyncratic hybrid institutions
  • It guarantees the representations of all social groups (proportional and equal representation in the bicameral legislative body).
  • It provides segmental or regional autonomies
  • Last but not least it balances the centrifugal forces and the centripetal forces (the power at center and the power at the periphery).

Fighting Against Idiosyncratic Hybrid Regimes And Institutions

Interestingly enough, post 1989 is considered a period of constitutional liberation, where democracy is marketed rigorously as a valuable product to every nation in the world by the western constitutional law experts. Even if nations tried to purchase across International boundaries, a “tailor-made-specificity” are the most preferable outcome when they made a choice from the various models of governance, as a learning comparative for addressing the grievances of the stakeholders within a particular nation. When they made a choice on the model of governance (on either “centralized unitary” or “decentralized unitary”), the only thing to be careful is then, not to design a hybrid institutions in their constitutional clauses like that of ours that was drafted in 1997.

Hybrid constitutions always reflect inconsistent institutions that are good for hybrid regimes which are not accountable to their legislative body. “The desire to graft one institution onto another, rather to design an ensemble of institutions is visible with hybrid systems” [Horowitz, 1999]. If constitutional design were thought reasonably enough “ to produce some standard solutions, locally modified to recurrent problems, with more discernible patterns to the general public at large and visible to International Institutions” it will create conducive environment to the democratic institutions to function and evolve.

As US constitutional framers have envisioned a bicameral legislature to resolve an impasse between small states and large state, the Eritrean constitutional structure should also include a bicameral legislature to resolve the impasse between the minorities and majorities to address the grievances on marginalization. Assuring legislative representation for minorities are crucial step in holding our nation intact and our social groups living in harmonious co-existence. Social Group division cannot be washed away. And that is why Lijphart identifies “statesmanship” as the reason elites will form a cartel across (social) group lines, to resolve inter-ethnic differences [Lijphart, 1977: 53, 165]. He further contends that the motive is not statesmanship but the desire to enter into a coalition [Lijphart, 1999: 7-8] to mitigate the centrifugal competition of group allegiance.

The Paucity of qualified Leadership

Besides the lack of constitutional order in our nation, there is this what we call human factor – the paucity of qualified leadership for governing who can understand the social conflict of our societies, the grievances of our social groups, the understanding of the mechanics of governance, the knowledge of balancing the central governments and local governments to mimic peace and developments, with the vision of maintaining vertical power sharing. In short, a leadership who understands the factors that unite the Eritrean people, not by the power of coercion, but by the vertical and horizontal power sharing. Eritrea lacks qualified manpower and skills in resolving social conflicts and governing our people peacefully without war footing.

To scrutinize the qualification of leaderships, there are four leadership criteria to effectively lead for change: They are, dialogue, vision, discipline, and ability to work with his/her colleagues. A leader who believes on dialogue, who has the vision how to solve conflicts and dilemmas, who understand the role of his colleagues, and who understand the ethics of governing, is very critical at this juncture of our history. Bryman in his book reviewing leadership wrote this: the common elements in the definitions of leadership imply that leadership involves a social influence process in which a person steers members of the group (and the public at large) towards a goal [Bryman, 1986, pp-2]. For Bryman the “theme of influence” by non coercive means is the central to the definition of leadership. We surely lack leaders who could have influences and inspires the public with vision and ideas.


Eritrea’s difficult political history has created a sense of permanent crises. Since 1993 the ruling party (PFDJ) assumes a strong national executive power by excluding possible contending parties. The executive’s prerogatives are enshrined in the hybrid constitution of 1997 (though currently shelved behind the president) which gives a dominant power to the office of the presidency and undermine the development of parliamentary institutions. The office of the presidency was ostensibly designed to coordinate the political programs sponsored by the Issayas regime with an aim of involving the construction of vertical relationship with the Eritrean people, to resist any shocks of structural adjustment.

Despite the lack of public survey, which is difficult to conduct in our current circumstances, my random conversations with the two sections of our society suggest the prevailing trust-deficit among Eritrean communities are caused by the current centralized unitary government. Consequently, the Eritrean elites are now openly divided along highland/lowland on the option of model of governance. While the lowlanders are opting decentralized-unitary-governance that allows two tier of governance (central and regional power distribution), the highlanders advocate for centralized-unitary-governance as depicted in the 1997 constitutions. It is high time that both sections of our society come to term and sit in a round table to resolve this crucial subject that determines the unity of our people and the direction of economic development of our nation.


[1] Vivien A. Schmidt, “democracy France: The political and administration history of decentralization, 2007, PP-10

[2] Robert Leroux, “French liberalism in the 19th century: An anthology, chap-6: Maurice Block on decentralization, Routledge, 2012 PP-225

[3] Theresa A. McCarthy, “Demographic diversity and the size of public sector” Kyklos, Int. review for social science Vol 4-6.

[4] Inter-American Development Bank website, http://www.IADB.org/projects/index.cfm?language=english#, “approval loans by sector/subsector,” downloaded d March 9, 2005.

[5] World Bank website. See at http://www1.worldbank.org/publicsector/decentralization/operations.htm, down loaded March 9, 2005.

[6] Linda Cabral, “Decentralization in Africa: Scope, motivation, and impact on service delivery and poverty,” overseas development Institutions working paper, 2011, PP-6

– Azar, S. 1999, “Decentralization, governance, and public services: The impact of institutional arrangements.”

– Brayman, Alan 1986 “Leadership and organizations” published by Routledge Kegan & Paul.

– Cummings, S. 1995, “Centralization and decentralization: The never ending story of separation and betrayal,” Scandinavian Journal of management, vol. 11 No-2

– Finer,S.E, 1997 “The history of government from the earliest times: Ancient monarchies and empires,” vol-1

– Hidrat, A., “Hard talk: The contours of change and the equilibrium of its parts”, awate-com. Jan 17, 2014.

– Hobbes, T. “Leviathan” a scholar press facsimile, volume-2 of pelican classes published by Penguim books, University of Michigan, editor –Crowford Borough.

– Horwitz, D., 1999, “constitutional design: proposal versus processes,” Duke University, professor of law and Political science.

– Lijphart, A. “Democracy in plural societies,” 1977, pp 53, 165. And “Multi-ethnic democracy” 1999, pp- 7-8.

– Morell, M. 2004, “FAO experience in decentralization”

– Ruth Hubbard & Gilles Paquett, 2010, “federation as a philosophy of governance,” University of Ottawa press.

– Ribot, J. 2004 “waiting for democracy: The politics of choice in natural resources of decentralization, world resource Institute, Washington D.C.

– Rondinelli, D. 1999 “what is decentralization?” in World Bank, decentralization briefing note, WBI working paper.

– Smith, B. 1985, “Decentralization: The territorial dimension of the state”.

– Treisman, D. 1996, “The architecture of government: Rethinking political decentralization” referring Plato’s ideal polity, Magnesia, described in the laws [1970 (350-340 B.C)] Book-5

Links of reference

2 –   http://www.tepav.org.tr/upload/files/haber/1381998105-8.Paul_T._Levin_in_Sunumu.pdf




About Amanuel Hidrat

Amanuel Hidrat, is a political activist and a passionate writer in the current struggle against the Eritrean regime. His extensive writings are focused on constitution and constitutionalism, constitutional process, nature of governments, and grievances of the social groups. His articles can be found “Tebeges”, a rich column at awae.com that archives over 150 articles. He has been writing at Ntsebraq in Tigrinya since 1998, and in English awate.com since 2000. Through his writings, , he promotes "multicultural liberalism" and "multicultural constitutionalism" that provides a fair share to social groups in the decision making process of governance. Amanuel believes it’s not individuals, but ”our social groups”, that should be the building blocks of the Eritrean nation state. Amanuel studied “Industrial chemistry" at the Poly-technical Institute in Ethiopia, and "Clinical Pharmacy" at St John's University in the US.

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Perceptions & Values: Transforming the Eritrean Minds

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  • Bayan Nagash

    Ahlan Amanuel Hidrat,

    The kind of out-of-the-predictable-line of thinking that you are bringing in your article is what Eritrean political discourse sorely lacks; such an antidote from which we all can all learn from in terms of helping us transcend our own lack of abilities to make paradigm shift I find refreshingly worthy of laud. Like you, I am neither in the business of plumbing nor metaphor expert in the animal kingdom, but
    something worth mentioning here is that there are some educators who are thinking fast and hard about the effect of marginalization in some indigenous and minority groups within the U.S. proper. As such, these scholars are cognizant of the fact that ideologies are deeply entrenched in institutions of all sorts, and doing away the language of hegemony that come laced with the mainstream culture even in educational policies, textbook, and the like are a fair space for critiquing. Therefore, these scholar want to take the “variegated discourse” to a new height, to the nerve center of mainstream culture, one that considers all of the variables these minority groups come equipped with, talents that are worthy of praise, such as being bilinguals, for example.

    Something that is close to your field of endeavors, in its broadest sense is being used to
    re-conceptualize education, to which I will come to shortly. As you appositely put it, your aim is

    “…to increase the ability of the public to perceive matters and concepts beyond the range of ordinary perception to have a clear vision, or the clairvoyance on governmental structures and various concepts applicable to it. Without conventional concepts and terms, debates on governance are meaningless with no center of gravity to our actions and no structural discourse to our moves, we strive to accomplish. Certainly and of course, terms, concepts, and models will reflect in our arguments, as
    instruments in our debate, as beauty to our vision, and as clarity to our ideology and communications. Concepts are always evolved with time and space, so also their political dichotomy and political frames. For instance, those frames that were “unitary verses federal” are changed to “centralized unitary governance verses decentralized unitary governance” (Aman H.).

    It is precisely in the above spirit I bring the following concept to the scrutiny of your sharp mind the notion is now being termed the “the politics of organic phylogeny”. Machedo-Casas (2014) appropriates this concept to empower parents of indigenous groups as they navigate the educational system in the U.S. This is just to encourage you, Amanuel to keep on thinking and conceptualizing and
    re-conceptualizing the Eritrean political landscape as our options ought to be wide open to entertain ideas that may uniquely serve our needs. Machedo-Casas gives the following rationale, for example, in how she conceived this notion:

    “The term phylogeny refers to the evolutionary development and history of a particular group or organism; it expands on the sequence of events involved in the development of a particular group. And, although this term has been used in biology to describe living organisms in their life processes, as living organisms, human beings also follow a certain development and evolutionary growth which is directly tied to one’s history and past experiences…Indigenous parents in this study practice the Politics of Organic Phylogeny because they take their past history and knowledge as indigenous peoples and transmit this cumulative knowledge to their children as they move through the processes of growth and evolution, including the most current experiences of growing up as transnational
    indigenous immigrants in the U.S.” (p. 87)

    So, my friend, the sky is the limit when one is trying to find amicable solution to Eritrean sociopolitical future. It is inevitable some will either choose to lend deaf ears to the glaringly clear parallel universe Eritreans are living today – language-wise, perception-wise, politicking-wise, but that’s nothing new since new ideas can only be accepted when the mainstream status quo ante is destabilized, then and only then will the new ideas begin to slowly percolate in that replacement process through some thick skulls. Hegemony of any sort does not happen overnight, certainly wouldn’t be destabilized by one article or two, but by holistically assaulting it from all directions, such as what you are doing in the political end of it, other social, communal, and institutional hegemony must also be worked on in tandem to holistically alter the anachronistic mindset that got us in the abyss we find ourselves in.

    But, don’t tell that to some of those who have been part and parcel of the corrupt PFDJ’s exclusionary system, which they enjoyed until the wrath came tumbling down like a ton of brick, at which point
    they began to see how wrong they were, but, rest assured it will take a whole lot more of soul searching before they begin to see the reality on the ground is nothing they were used to when they were in Eritrea. The diaspora operates in a completely different spatial & temporal dimensions, as such will require a monumental shift in paradigm, thinking-wise.

    Keep up the good work, Aman.


  • Hope

    Ok !
    What is the Take Home Message then?
    Vet Aman Hidrat,Profs SAAY and Tes,Vet Sem Tesfay and Mahmuday and others:
    What will be the ” best” or mid-way solution then?
    I think we need a realistic ,aPragmatic and a Practical Solution-Based approach and debate rather than empty Gurra and Metaphysical and Utopian debate!
    BTW,what is the problem with the PFDJ style of the Adm Zobas ,which in my opinion.seems to be a ” decentralized but strong Unitary Gov minus Constitution but with the intention of;
    -avoiding ethnic,tribal,region and religion based governance by replacing the Colonialist sponsored Adminstrative Regions
    -to distribute the resources equally!
    Prof tes supported the PFDJ Style short of Constitution and with some possible retaliatory measure against Kerenites and Deki-Akelguzai,based on the way PIA divided and named those two Sections of the ERITREAN Society,both being the historical challengers of PIA,and as such,considered by PIA as threat to his power!

  • Kokhob Selam

    Dear Horizon,

    Yep, we have to change our way of thinking. We have to start to open our mind which is closed to think wider. Now, at least we are trying to learn but learning involves change and again change involves learning. But change by its very nature is threatening – going out of the shell requires boldness – fear is our enemy as it prompts “fight or flight” type reaction. People should take slowly the change process as they have limited ability of living with it even though they can’t escape
    from it.

    That is why we should create a mechanism being the first to accepting differences between each of the nations (especially historically )then putting the proof how the similarities are bigger than the differences and how much beneficial is to upgrade similarities till similarities govern differences. That
    can be done by giving and taking – building Love Bridge while destroying hate. I love you Horizon!

  • Abi

    Hi AOsman
    Sorry I messed up. Bejakha must be ebakwo as erswo instead of ante.
    Ato Saleh ebakwo yiqir belugn. Bedifiret sayhon besihitet new.

    • Eyob Medhane


      Ayeeeee..yante neger…kantes ene eshalalehu.. 🙂

      Bejakhi is Ebakish
      Bejakha is Ebakih
      Bejakhum is Ebakachachihu (ebakwo)

      • Abi


      • ወቸጉድ

        ውድ እዮብ
        ትግርኛ አንቱታ አለው እንዴ? ሁሉንም እኮ ኣንታ ነው የሚሉት
        the B is silent and the J is a B 🙂

        • saay7

          Hey Woche-Gud:

          You appear to have confused with Eri-gov tigrinya and proper tigrniya.

          You: eska or eski
          Thou: (plural you out of respect): eskkhum or eskhin.

          The Eri-gov Tigrinya is revolutionary Tigrinya which attempted to breakdown all signs of fedualism and one of them was a female calling a male: “eskhum.”

          Hope you are properly edumacated. Please make a note of it.


          • AOsman


            Thou with disrespect in Tigrigna for you, women teasing their men in support of their children (you will know where I pulled it from):

            “When are they coming?” “When are we going to see Izom Tsubukat dekina (our beautiful children)?” were also the most anticipated questions from the urban women. The urban men on the other hand seemed depressed and afraid. Some even uttered “Kilikumuna Iyom izom awedat”, meaning “the boys are going to jeopardize our life”. Every time the words were uttered the women responded “Kem atom gida sire zeitiatku” meaning “why don’t you wear pants like them” a reply that could better be described as questioning the men’s masculinity.


  • Abi

    Hi Horizon
    When eritreans say leave us alone , they mean don’t interfere in our business! They are saying leave our land. They are saying if IA is a tyrant, let him be. It is not ethiopian business to remove him or to be a means to remove him. You don’t have to speak Tigrigna to understand this.
    “Hulum lerasu, Amlak lehulum.”
    Anta gidef. Entay konka?

    • Saleh Johar

      Though you pretend you don’t understand Tigrinya, I am sure you understand the Ertrawinya language very well. Oh Boy! You can even read their mind perfectly before they utter any word 🙂

      • Abi

        Ayay Saleh, kemey kemey
        Bejaki suq bel Tigrigna yebley
        I should have learned the basics based on my exposure to Tigrigna speakers. The problem is all speak Amharic better than I do. Amharic is their first language.
        I have picked up some words just enough to pretend like menqesaqesi/ mewesawesi .
        Ato Saleh, let’s not go to reading eritrean mind. I thought I knew their hearts and minds .
        Oops! Teshewedku !

        • AOsman

          Dear Abi,

          Bejaki vs Bejakha whats the difference?

          It is not your fault, you had the challenge that an English man faces learning other languages. Wherever you go in Ethiopia, it must have looked as though people spoke Amharic, however little. Or for convenience you would pre-empt the conversation by “Amarigna Taqale” :), what would they do? Dinish Dinish – yilalu….then add Chew at the end of tigrigna words to speak amharigna.

          Those who try may trip but will learn, eventually.


    • Dear Abi,

      no tigrigna, please. unfortunately, i do not understamd a word. “gidef”, i think are people who support the eri regime. right or wrong this is what i have come to understand. “anta” i think means you. Entay konka”, i have no idea. i really hate to do a guess work.

      i suggest a word a day of tigrigna language on awate.com for ethio forrumers, and a word/day of amharic for eris, could do a miracle, more than may be, all the discussions we make. after all, it is about relationship we are talking about. what is the use if we donot understand eachother and we remain two foreigners.

      • ወችጉድ

        [from the moderator: next time remember to begin with a salutation]

        this should be easy enough if you speak Amharic. I don’t know Tigrigna either but. “gidef” seems similar to “መገደፍ“ so I think it means ተው. ኣንታ = አንተ – እንታይ ኮንካ is Abi’s version ምን ሆንክ or ምን ነካህ

        ሁሉም ለራሱ :አምላክ ለሁሉም
        አንተ ተው:: ምን ነካህ

        • Dear ወችጉድ,

          thank you a lot. you see, i was completely wrong in my interperetation. a guess work is no good at all. in addition, my contact even with the amharic language is not as broad as i would have liked it to be, unfortunately.

      • Kokhob Selam

        Dear Horizon.
        But you know, you are supposed to know Tigrinya. How do you miss this? for me, Amharic is important equally to Tigrnya and other languages in Eritrea. it is the same with Arabic, I care and learn English too but it is not priority to expand my knowledge on it. B

        • God willing Kokhob Selam.

          in this globilized world we must all be cosmopolitan. we should get out of our shell and approach other people and cultures. this is the only way to the future.

  • Solomon Haile

    Selma Aya Hidrat and MaHmood,

    DO you guys believe a perfect and harmonious decentralized government and people in Eritrea can be attained with a loose and temporary federation with Ethiopia (say 10 years like 1952- annexation after the Brits who plunged wealth from Eritre then and sold it to their other commonwealth) plus the return of the Federation Era Constitution and Representation? This would increase market opportunities for today’s young Eritreans, bring a eelative excellent peace between the peoples if Eritrea and Ethiopia, decrease the refugee humanitarian disasters on the high seas by alleviating at least the East African or HoA lives (saving and…Do you think? And after the Ten Years Eritreans can hold a referendum to part OR cappmpaign for a decentralized Union of the IGAD nations–Do you think? This may even give Africans a space program??? Back to Dawit Woldegoorgis’ way forward.
    This should give Dawit and Nitric sine amp regarding the sneyemuurawi werarrr? May-i7 any one? Sebbat SbHhhat Sebbat leAb Sebatt/people le Abbb Gnbot Sebat SebHat General Efrem SebaHat — pardon my online prayor for a coup de Tatttt The questions Aya and MaHmood still stand TsaTse style. Welcome to. NY trick or treat! Happy Halioween. The Capitalism of Disaster..”Atica Atica” ErithriumShske like McDees “I ‘m loving IT!” TsaTse

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Ahlen Solomon (king Solomon)**

      Your first question is “No”. We can’t go back and digress to the old type of relations that create the new reality. What we can do however is, to make a progress and elevate the new reality to more developed regional structural relations that include all the countries in the horn.

      But to your idea “decentralized union of IGAD nations” which I will call it “coming together federations” also known as “confederation” or a kind of the “EU” project, is feasible if certain criteria are fulfilled. Coming together federations is the union of independent nations for economic and security purposes. Economy – it opens a broad regional market economy to the people of the horn and to use the resources of the region for the countries in the region. Security – It helps to stabilized the region, fight and withstand against non-state actors collectively, and reduce the geopolitical influence of international forces.

      In order to actualize and bring a paradigm of change for such kind of project, it requires the following prerequisites:

      > The leaders of the countries must understand the nature of globalization and market economy of this century and must be capable to run the new project ( must have contemporary mind and knowledge)

      > All the nations in the horn must have a stable central governments

      > The central governments of the horn of African nations must mobilize their populations for that kind of project (this stage might demand a considerable of time possibly years and decades).

      > At the end they must conduct a referendum the peoples of the countries in the horn to vote Yes or no for the project.

      So Solomon I will totally agree if the countries in the horn come together for such kind of projects for purposes of peace, stability, and economic development. Actually my article “Leadership and the geopolitics of the horn (part-I) as linked below touches the issue you have raised. So your generation must be prepared and ready for that economy and peace strategy.


      ** I hope and wish you to have the wisdom of King Solomon.

      Amanuel Hidrat

      • Dear Amanuel Hidrat,

        we remember the federation of arab republics, the brainchild of gaddafi, that was meant to unite libya, egypt and syria to create a united arab state. a referendum was carried out, and also, one should have in mind that those were very similar countries, which should have made their union much easier, compared to igad counrties. nevertheless, it lasted only few years, and ended up in a failure, accusations and counter-accusations. similarly, a broad federation of igad countries at this stage, i think, will not have a better chance. you have rightfully put some criteria to be met before the region achieves such a merger. if regional states want to create a regional federation that is going to succeed, i think that it should be the target of a long-term plan, and not a short-term goal, which means that it does not serve as a solution for the ethio-eritrean problem. do you think that any sort of merger between ethiopia and eritrea is possible during this generation, or better left to the coming generations, if it is ever to happen?


        • Kokhob Selam

          Dear Horizon,
          your question is directed to Amanuel, but till then allow me to say something short.

          I really don’t see any problem and difficulty in having very much closely attached Ethio-Eri nation. really, the only thing we should take care is not to dominate one over the other. even one nation can’t proceed as nation if there will not be equality –
          nations can go beyond federation and confederation if the respect between them is practical, on time when it reaches to high level of love every old conflicts and differences becomes history. in fact I believe we should work for Ethio-Eri united states before we think of Igad. this is my suggestion but let us learn from Amanuel more as he is very much aware of political conflicts and solutions than I do.

          • Hope

            Ahlen kokhobay:
            When dealing with Ethiopians like Horizon,Medhanie and T Kifle, you have to understand where they are coming from and where they want to go!
            These people are very educated,articulate and knowledgeable , not just people,who know the difference between Right and Wrong;between Bad and Good!
            They know that the Ethio-Eritrean relationship is Natural,inevitable and inherent ,no matter what and it will be materialized,sooner or later for GOOD and for the best interest of both Nations and Peoples!
            There is a simple FACT you are ignoring and overlooking;
            The Tigreyans Do Not Want Eritreans to compete with them and they just want to dominate and control everything,since they know that ,once Eritreans in,they will do a perfect JOB under the Sun!
            There was beyond political reason in deporting more than 80 ,0000 Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean Origin with bare feet besides ripping them off their lifetime earnings!
            Case closed!

          • V.F.

            Dear Hope, this is a very interesting comment. Can you expand on that a little more? I say this because very recently, I made a comment here stating that as Eritreans, we should aim for re-integration and eventual ascension to the helm in Ethiopia, just competing like everyone else there. The Eritreans ignored it for the most part but Medhanie, Abi, and Addis (three very nationalistic and hardcore EPRDF supporting Ethiopians) really gotten shaken and peed in their pants. They got so afraid, it is not even funny. They could see it coming. They wanted to kill that idea at its inception and they ganged up on me. Well, let’s see. I think you are thinking along the same lines as me.

          • አዲስ


            I just saw your comment here. I am now a hardcore EPRDF supporter? 🙂 it’s not everyday I am accused of supporting EPRDF..hehe. You hear that EPRDFites ? I am one of you now 🙂


          • Eyob Medhane


            Ha ha ha ha…next, we will hear that you’ll be included in HMD’s cabinet… 🙂

          • አዲስ

            Ha ha Eyoba,

            V.F. may have information about that too.


          • Abi

            Hi Hope , VF
            A little self respect please. You are acting like a beggar that never leaves you alone.
            Hope :Sile Abune Aregawiiiiiiiii
            Abi: Egziabher yisTih
            VF: sile Mariaaaaaaaam
            Eyob: EnToTo Mariam tisTih.

          • Hope

            Eritreans do not have the culture of begging but working hard and if invited ,they will make begging and famine a history in Ethiopia!

          • Hope

            Selam VF:
            It is not ONLY. Natural but a historical fact that Ethiopia-Eritrean relationship will shine up like a Morning Star in due time after the current gamblers are gone for Good!
            The Nature’s Law is unbeatable!
            Unlike few narrow-minded few Ethiopians think-like the Abis,the Eyobs and the Horizons,etc…,,Ethiopians will flock to the Red Sea Beaches day and night beyond enjoying the fresh Red Sea fish and the pure salt as much the Eris enjoy the Free Electricity will roll over all over Ethiopia and re-boost and re-energize the Ethiopian Economy like never before and the Ethiopian Airlines will be congested with Eri Travelers and the new old Eritrean Airlines will sky-rocket ….and over the time the Ethio-Eritrean relationship will naturally will go beyond that of neighbors and the Sky will be the limit provided people are left alone to decide on their FATE and provided that there will be mutual respect!
            That was the DREAM of most of us but the short-sighted and greedy ones destroyed the DREAM!

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Dear Horizon,

          I am aware the attempts of the Arab countries you mentioned in your comment. It all depends on (a) the maturity of the leaderships (the subjective conditions) (b) the understanding of the contours of the process (the strategy and the tactical applications) and (c) the maturity of the objective conditions (raising the consciousness of the public about the project). What that entails, because other countries failed doesn’t mean the countries in the horn will also fail. Of course it requires a considerable of time to orient the public about the advantages of the project. A decade or two is not long if the objective conditions are matured.

          As to the issue between Ethiopia and Eritrea, it is like what Mahmuday has stated that the two nations must resolve the current realistic differences and and bring them into normalization. In the process of normalization the anger of both sides will subside and will bring us into a position to promote the big ideas that benefit both sides of the river.

          Amanuel Hidrat

      • Mahmud Saleh

        Ahlan Emma and fitewrari Solomon.
        Nothing really to add except to stress the need of:
        1. Peaceful co-existence of neighbor countries- meaning, resolving outstanding conflicts.
        2. A period of chilling out and re-reorganizing and reformulating their policies and sectors of economies, security, military. ..
        3. Of course, peace within themselves- meaning, they have to be democratic and compatible with each other.
        4. It should be natural and mutual necessities driven – meaning, it is the choice of the people.
        5. Visionary leaders need to be at the helm of this huge paradigm shift.
        Other than that, who hates countries and regions to cooperate. It’s inevitable. But the region lacks visionary leaders. Until that time, we have to be realistic. What’s needed now is normalized relations between individuals states of the region. The rest will arrive on its schedule.

      • Solomon Haile

        Selamat Aya Amanuel,
        In the American education system I arrived past grammar school as you are Mir than capable to extrapolate. The plus I am humbly taken liberty to grant you Aya is due to my ShaEbia arly age education I was afforded to pay attention to detail. Some of my early instructors were named Fasil, Zena, and an ELF fluoridation fighter by Memhir Tsige, a friend of we’d Berakhi Andrew late or better accredited Martir Zekarias Nuguse. With all do respect Aya, I can’t help but question you NO answered to be less than adamant or simply an emphatic NO for it is under quotation. If I am to forgo of my thorn thrown for the generation following me, I must first understand the rules of engagement. For my benefit, Sir, would you clarify as to why you have the NO punctuated with a quotation mark. This way I can analyze the anticipation of the Horizons in this discussion to take lead and facilitate of the prerequisites for a harmonious coexistence of our region as well as the recognition of the market and security powers that need to be spelled out to OUR YOUNg and inevitable leaders. No open chants for now. I am to hand the title King to aThe “horizon” witRespect,

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Selam Solomon,

          The No is simply emphatic. Because the 1950s federation and the demand of the new realities confederation ( if both sides agree) are two different structural relations. The federation of the 1950 was as part of Ethiopia. The confederation (again if it is the desire of both people) is the coming together two independent nations. The rules of engagement in both cases is different. We can not go back to the past, we can only go and proceed from the new reality at this time.

          Second thank you for respect to your elders – Tsige, Gebrehiwet Baraki, Zekarias who are from my generation and from the Ghedli era. It is our noble culture and they are “ayatatika eyom”. The accolade “king solomon” you could share with Horizon if you maintain that human values, the value of “wisdom and Knowledge”.


          • Solomon Haile

            Selamat Aya Amanuel,
            I am asking you who are you quoting? When you quote something you are repeating what some one or what a spokesperson for a group ha stated. I don’t mean to be nitpicking Sir. Also, I had a couple of St.Francus Sonoma County glasses of Cabranet after work last night and was rather feeling nistalgic about my early brain coders with ShaEnia starting with ZerEizgi, Fasil… I am simply asking for your statement of NO should the answers be so. Or is a Ten year protectorate under Desalegne Hailemariam’s Ethiopia a partial solution en rout to the ideals you outlined in your response. There are some Eritreans circulating and petitioning to intervene with security forces as we speak/write now. The question for clarification stil stands for MaHmood since he had nothing much to add for that part of my question. This is what I meant by rules of engagement with the added inebriation accent last night. Tsatse

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Selam Solomon,

            I have a problem to understand your cryptical messages. May be Saay will intervene to this matter to disclose the mystery of your writing. The purpose of quoting the quotable is to enhance my argument. It has nothing other than that.

            Second if you have a passion on the idea “ten year protectorate under Desalegne”, you could write an article and make your case. We shall see how your argument permeate into the public conscience. As to my position: I make it clear that we shouldn’t go back to the old reality that became the cause to the birth of the new reality, rather we maintain “our independence” and engage with countries in the region for the highest structural cooperation. So Seleye it is your task to make your view known to the public and elaborate the idea to the public in a well organized article or essay. The stage is for you, and I will listen and read you patiently.

            Amanuel Hidrat

  • Solomon Haile

    Selamat Aya Amanuel,

    For years now I have been reading your at most personal quest and preoccupation for the formula of attaining and preserving The One Nation Under God Eritrea that was promised by those who inspired you to join the Eritrean Liberatin Front. Indeed Sir, that is what I or any one would consider staying ever loyal at heart to the Oath the Founding Fathers of Independent Eritrea long before the Hamid Idriss Awates, Abdelas, Huruys, and Isayass.. They of course we’re the Eritrean Parluament Representatives who adamantly chose Unity and Independence of Eritrea. Rejecting partition and unity with Ethiopia. You and others know the history a lot more than yours truly. The Founding Fathers were the Kebires of the Independence Block. I believe the formula of representation of federation era Eritrean Parliament is as close to decentralized governance future Eritrea can get. Simply because the mission of the Eritrean Armed Revolution would be accomplished when all Eritrwan Socueties representatives in government is restored and there would be wide if not total acceptance of the original Oath. Followed by of course the reconciliation of all the grievances from all the societies and regions for progressive and equitable distribution of resources and opportunities to all. Perhaps aya Amanuel you can gift us with a narration of Eritrean Parlama of then with all its Pros and Cons of the then Eritrea and now or near future.

    Sports is headlining as you know… And I remember squating on your living room floor and screaming with joy of the game six baseball match between the NY Mets and the Houston Astros with a miracle error by the Rockets first base sent the Mets to the World Series and eventually champions of 86. They haven’t been to the playoff since until THIS SEASON… The NY Mets just beat The LA Dodgers to advance! Say must of caught my Mets reference in my message to Ali Salum when UK Wilde cCats took on UConn several years a go… UK in that message was University of Khartum as opposed to University of Kentucky… Anywho… Go Mets! TsaTse

  • Mahmud Saleh

    Selam zKeberka Haw Amanuel

    Thank you for the hard work. As always, you write with a mission in your mind and with a passion from your heart . There is no doubt that your objective is to see the stability of the state based on the satisfaction that citizens draw from its institutions. The topic is huge. It’s evident that extra readings are required in order to give such an article the judgment it deserves. Lack of time has not yet allowed me to do the required readings. Based on my first glance (I promise I will read it when I get time, and as usual, our conversation will continue), I assume this is a call or an attempt to draw attention to any constitution making in the future; or your way of contributing to our political discourse. As a general impression, I don’t have a problem with the form of government you advocate for: decentralized unitary government. It appears to be mid way between the unitary government and the federal structure. What’s still fuzzy in your article is the part that concerns how it could be applicable to the Eritrean proper.

    Choosing any form of government is the highest stake societies take in trying to solve complex demands and interactions of their components in order to form a better family or union/state…etc. Therefore, our first order would be to study the complex demands, grievances, or anticipations our society has. Citizens devise a form of a government that reflects their vision, ideals, and values. Therefore, the form of any government would be the result of deliberations among citizens and would be an integral part of the constitution that they frame out. Hence, in essence, this article is more of a broad constitutional debate than it is catering specifically to Eritrean reality. I think you made progress in breaking it down, but I wish you spent more time on why we need this form of government instead of other contending ideas, applicable elsewhere in similar situations. In short, I have seen grievances of our “social groups” mentioned, and I understand the linchpin of your political mission is to find a workable arrangement. I think if you could tell, “This is how Eritrean society looks like, these are the contesting demands, and if we do this, we could address them.” We know the presence of social groups or ethnics. What concrete studies have there been to show that they are systematically marginalized? We know, starting from today’s list of the footballers, personal experiences, Ahmed Raji’s papers, different opposition figures and organizations communiques that there is a problem. Amnd it’s worth taking note of. However, have we answered the causes? Is it a systematic majority-group-perpetrated repression or a result of an abnormal situation? Have we reached a stage where the forming of a bicameral legislative body based on ethnicity is necessary? How do we know it, unless we are to believe this small people could not hold up unless constitutional boundaries are marked out? I argue that the current situation should not be taken as a yardstick, it’s an abnormal situation where all sectors of our people are repressed. Eritreans have not yet sit together and discussed this in a democratic atmosphere. We have not yet completed the revolutionary journey; it has been arrested abruptly. Therefore, I take this article as an invaluable contribution in elevating our awareness and also as an educational piece for those who are interested in public administrations and politics.
    Generally, any democratic discussion assumes that the people are the supreme. All democratic institutions including the government are thought to be agents or vehicles of the people’s desires and voices. The people channel their sovereign authority through their representatives. Therefore, at the end it is a matter of answering the need of the people. What form of government will follow what type of:
    – existing challenges we have, is it only ethnic grievances? What exactly are those grievances? Against whom? If the minorities believe their grievances originate from the rule of the majority (Tigrigna), we have a problem to address. If they think the grievances arise from the rule of the current regime, then all of us have one mission. Let us work towards realizing a state of politics where all these nitty-gritty are brought to the forum (may be constitutional assembly).
    – historical and traditional contributions in contemporary challenges…(what has our past experience been, including our revolutionary experience, Higtatat endaba or traditional civil laws…), what do they hint? Do they hint for a unitary or decentralized? If decentralized, what type?
    – constitution Forecasts or anticipates future challenges, or possible social mobility trends (both vertical and horizontal), do we have studies that caters specifically to the trajectory Eritrean society is likely to take?
    In short why do we advocate in favor of one form of government instead of other forms?
    I think equally crucial is the need of balancing rural/urban (or agro versus manufacturing regions, pastoralists… ). For instance, farming communities of blin have more to do with other farming communities of Tigre/Tigrigna than with their ethnic urban communities (Kerenites….haha…haha…). Fishing communities of Northern.
    In your bicameral proposition, there are two problems that I can think of, particularly for the second largest group, Tigre, intra-group dynamics and geographical stretch.
    a/ its tribal bondage is stronger than its ethnic (or social grouping);here one tribe is spread across regions; and if we really want to address social grievances, there are intra-group grievances too. We will have to go deeper than the ethnic groups; some tribes may complain their interests are not represented by the big ones (there was a case in the 90s in Sahel, without going to detail ; b/ its geographic spread makes it impossible for it to have a representative(s) carrying a unified voice. Tigre of Kerkebet may have more to do with their neighboring Hidareb than with the Tigre of Zula, and the Zulas with Afars and Saho….etc; Tigre of MensaE, bietjook…may have more in common with the Blin/Tigrigna…therefore, without defining the regions and their borders, and why they are designed that way (the underlying reasons, it’s an abstract discussion, and because we will have our own imaginary zoning of districts or regions/state/awarajas and their demography and socio-economic modes, their possible dynamics (interregional interactions…ect. ), we may not have discussions based on real cases. In short, without having defined administrative regions, and the reason for their existence, it is very difficult to discuss if the proposal of a bicameral legislative body for the sake of ethnic representation is the best option. If we are to take the old awrajas, some of them are not really viable to sustain themselves..
    Another point that you are missing is the fact that the old Awraja demography could have changed, and I have information that it has changed for good. Today, in addition to the old cities of the lowland, there are urban centers in Emahmimet, Sheeb, Foro, forto sawa, Tio…with high concentration of Eritreans from the highland. I have no problem with it, it’s inevitable and peaceful mobility of people is a sure way of building a nation. However, how are you going to factor in these demographic challenges into your bicameral design. For instance, if two senators represent Dankalia, are they going to just advoicate for the Afars or for the whole people in their region? Because, settlers from other ethnic group could be more in number than the native settlers.
    I like the idea but I argue it should be based on the states/regions rather than on ethnic groups. Because if the population of the regions elect their representatives to the regions’ legislative bodies based on “one person, one vote” principle, it is quite conceivable that the senators from a region represent that region either through direct vote or through the vote they get from the regional council and they will fight for the population of the region. This is even more realistic because it deals with the concept of representation from its practical sense. For instance, the people of coastal regions will have similar concerns, in addition to the opportunities all citizens and regions demand, they may have specifics related to their region: investment in hotels/tourism, fisheries, ways they could adopt technology to their climate and postural lives…
    One more point: How could you say regions are decentralized without giving them the right to collect their revenues and administer them the way they see fit? Is there real devolution of power without decentralizing budget administration?
    Thank you.
    PS: I wish you establish a site for serious articles where your peers can debate with you. Mine is just an attempt to milk you farther.
    Thanks again.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Ahlen Mahmuday,

      Thank you for your feed back. I will try to answer your concerns late this evening when I get home. Your concern should be addressed by any means.

      Aamnuel Hidrat

    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear Mahmuday,
      I read your post and your worries all. I understand what you are saying. for sure your suggestions will make rich this article. Amanuel for sure will come with his answer and I think he may have to add or will find out some points are not mentioned here. but above all what I love from your massage is at the end that advises to establish a site. in fact I even go farther …this type of very much serious articles should be discussed and widely heard by the mass. in fact we may have to think of having a radio transmission as our people are more interested in hearing the voice than to read. more than that I think we should have tele -conferences, or pal talk systems. really if we are in this high level stage of knowledge we need to think using the technology bringing everybody closer. I wish a party within opposition start this program.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Kubur Mahmuday,

      Okay I am back to you. I saw your comment as complementary view, despite all the reservations and concerns you put forward as questions or suggestions thereof. As you well know, the purpose of my article was to mimic public debate on the major national issue on how to govern our people peacefully and equitably. I have only touched one of the many concerns that bedeviled our nation and our people. I believe there is no any “governmental system” that address all conceivable problems that might occur within a society, but there “governmental system” that address the major problems of societal contradictions if they are tailored to fit the specific reality. As a result my attempt was to suggest that somehow a relatively better “government structural system” that fits to our reality and addresses to the grievances of our society, from the various types so far we know them.

      Most of the problems you mentioned are the clan issue within our social groups. We know that the clans within the social groups have common issue as well. The way I see it though then, that the “social group” issues falls within the major issues of our society, and must be dealt constitutionally; while the clan issue will be addressed by good political and economy policy. So in other words there are some policy induced problems and some structurally induced problems. Therefore my article focuses on the later – on the structural problem.

      Second, yes the linchpin of my political mission is to address the grievances of our “social groups”. The major demand of our minorities is equitable power sharing. So my search was to look a “governmental system” that address those grievances at hand. leaving aside the current government of Eritrea for a moment, if you see the 1997 constitutional document, it depicts a highly “centralized unitary government”. The document doesn’t address the grievances of our social groups in the minorities. The nature how the assembly are elected doesn’t give them a space (seat) in uni-chamber. So my article was intend to address those issue, not only as democratic ideal, but also social justice. I have shown the comparison of CUG and DUG on social justice graphically in this link [ http://awate.com/contours-of-change-and-equilibrium-of-its-parts-p-v/ ] and disentangled the relationship between DUG and federalism in order to chose one from the other with reasons in this article. I believe I did my homework on the issue. But did I communicate in the way the general public to understand the issue? I don’t know really. What I do know is, that the Eritrean political elites will understood it.

      Last but not least, decentralization is not between CUG and federalism as you try to put it. It is not, in fact all “federalism” are “decentralizing unitary governments” but all “decentralizing unitary government” are not “federalism”. What that entails is “Federalism” and “decentralized unitary governance” are not dichotomy in nature (as substitute in principles) but indeed are continuum of a unitary state weakening the power of the central government (as complementary in principles).

      Thank you buddy,
      Amanuel Hidrat

  • AMAN

    Dear Awates
    Jumping into your discussion as a reader I would like to make the following point.
    The focus should be on the basic units & structure of the state and the basic science
    of government and governance or administrative staus & apparatus of these units.
    Instead of talk of democracy; forms and types of the government at the center or top the
    discussion should focus on the structure and organization of the state government
    units below it. And thru a bottom up process it moves towards forming the central /
    state government from the constituent parts. In other words there should be provincial,
    sub-provincial and city / town adminstartion units in a clearly delienated form. These
    different units should have certain powers to exercise in their locality first and should
    be the first ones to exercise forming an administration or a government thrue inclusion
    and democratic way in a way that satisfies those state and / or central governments above
    them to get good credit there. Otherwise, without having such second and third tier units
    of governments how can one talk about a central governmet system,
    democratization and types & forms of governments and styles of administration.
    For example, one of my research study papers I made years ago about Eritrea lead me to
    organizing Eritrea into 18 instead of the 9 provinces before 1991. These include
    1. the 6 cities and their surroundings ( seats of zoba admin.) with a statue of province;
    2. the original 9 provinces plus
    3. 3 more new provinces……………….all with a first tier ( province ) status
    4. about 162 to 216 subprovinces ( 2nd tier admin. governments) and
    5. 376 to 432 municipalities, 752 towns and townships and over 3675 villages and neighborhoods.
    Each with powers and authorities to exercise as specified by a constitution.
    So it seems the discussion of democracy and type and administration style of central government
    coming before administrative units are formed.
    Then everything flows upwards starting from villages/cities to subp-rovinces then to province then
    to the sovereign state in a chain process.( Bottom > Up democratic process ).

  • Semere Tesfai

    Selam Amanuel Hidrat

    1. – There is a clear pattern in every article you penned, and for every passionate argument you made. You consistently write names and quotations of social scientists and philosophers from Western Europe and North America. Yes, out all Eritrean social scientists and philosophers of their time, out all Ethiopian social scientists and philosophers of their time, out of all the wise men/women of the Horn, out of all the wise men/women of Africa, out of all the wise men/women of Eastern Europe Asia and Latin America….. all your cited references and quotations are from Western Europe and North America wise white men. Now, could you please tell us as to why the white European social scientists and philosophers gold standard is the one that is good for us? Where does self-respect, self-worth, self-confidence fit in all your writings?

    2. – According to the West – Russia and all Eastern European countries are not democracies, China and all Asian countries are not democracies (except Israel, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan – and may be India), all African countries are not democratic countries, all South American countries are not democratic countries – and all never been democratic countries in their life time. Yes, out of seven billion people in this planet, there are only a little over half a billion people living under “democratic” governments. How do you explain that? Do you think the people outside the Western World are genetically deficient? Why do we need to look to the West every time we crave something good?

    3. – Administrative zoning, national language, governing system, number of political parties, elections,having multiple media outlets alone are not determinant factors of democracy and social justice. There is no profound cause-effect relationship between them. You are stable prosperous and “democratic” country only when you have Western Insurance. And you will have Western Insurance only when you serve them well or when you are one of them. Well, we will never be one of them, so I suppose we have to serve them well. Right? And don’t get me wrong, I’m not against the West. I wish there was a way in which the Eritrean government, could be able to serve the West well, so in return the Eritrean people can live in peace and prosper like the other “prosperous” African countries. But I just don’t see how.

    4. – Western countries pressure smaller weaker poor nations to have multi party system, decentralized government, elections, IMF loan, small size army…….not with a noble intent to benefit the locals but to protect their interest. It is cheap and easy to corrupt couple of Generals as oppose to hundred of them, it is easier to corrupt family or ethnic minority run government as oppose to broad based government, it is easy for politicians to pit against each other when they belong to different parties regions faiths and ethnics. It is easy to steer a small poor weak nation wherever direction you want it, if you have intelligence agents on the ground working as business investors, educators, doctors, advisers, journalists, priests, nuns, human rights advocates, NGOs, field surveyors…..

    5. – In this world, when you are a foot-soldier, it seems being a Colonel/General is powerful position. But when you become one, you find out it is not. And when you’re a Colonel/General, being at the helm (presidency) seems powerful position, but when you become one, you find out that’s not the case.

    6. – Please understand, countries especially if they are small poor and weak like Eritrea, they are not free to mind their own business. They are told what to do/not do. If they don’t listen they pay heavy price. Without denying Eritrea’s internal governing problems, Eritrea’s current problem, is not the result of internal governing problem. Eritrea’s current problem is not system of governing or administrative-zoning problem (centralized, decentralized, federal, unitary). It is a regional policy problem. For better for worse, our current problem is entangled with the Amara-Tigrai (Intra-Habesha) political chess game in Addis on the one hand, and with Western interest in the Red Sea Horn region in the other. And when you are a foot soldier having an issue with your superior, no matter where the truth lies, the deck is stacked against you. And we’re living it.

    Again, I don’t have any problem if we debate about all kinds of governing styles, but I don’t see, change in our internal governing style being a solution to our current predicament. If you believe I’m wrong, please tell me why.

    Semere Tesfai

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Merhaba Semere Tesfay,

      Before I try to answer your questions, let me say this: I salute you when you don’t have a problem to debate on all kinds of governmental structures or as you call it ” governing styles.” This will help us to differentiate the nature of the government we have and determine whether we need a change, and if we need a change what kind of change. Let us maintain that logical engagement. But last time you asked me questions I answered them. But I left you with a question as what kind of government do we have currently in Eritrea? You failed to answer my question.

      Now, I don’t really care from which country or which continent the philosophers are. What I care strictly is what philosophical argument fits to my conceptual and the governmental structural argument I tried to make or somehow enlighten my vision and propose to my country men and women. Second, I wish the Eritrean social scientist (if we have any, by the way) could come with various proposals to educate the Eritrean people. I wish I could know Eritrean philosophers whom I could quote with quotable remarks on the subject I am interested and writing. I will not hesitate to do it, as far as it enhances my argument.

      Again, I understand the geopolitical interest in our region. But a leadership in Eritrea must have the ability to convert the geopolitical contest in the region to the interest of our country. Remember the failure to harvest any diplomatic positive outcome is attributed from the lack of qualified leaderships as I stated in my piece. The nature of geopolitics is based on give and take, and if we don’t learn that norm of geopolitical engagement, we will be always losers. So I don’t think you will disagree on the incompetent leadership we have. A self-inflicted regime who doesn’t understand the norm of international relations. This is one point. The other point is, the regime in Asmara doesn’t believe on constitutional democratic governing. They are still ruling the country (not governing) by the rule of the jungle, and you know it as a veteran tegadalay and what your aspiration was after independence. Throwing all our problems to the western countries and Ethiopia will not be a remedy to our national ailment. If your wish is if there would have been or,”if …. there was a way in which the Eritrean government, could be able to serve the West well, so in return the Eritrean people can live in peace and prosper like the other “prosperous” African countries” then you know where the problem is, and that surely is on the ruling government of Eritrea. Actually they are not incompetent on policy making only, but they are also in competent to govern the Eritrean people. But let me ask you, that last time you agreed with me that there is a system with its institution in Eritrea today. So what kind of system it is? Can you describe the structural make up of the system? That will help us to have a common understanding on the regime.

      Amanuel Hidrat

      • Semere Tesfai

        Selam Amanuel Hidrat

        You said “I wish I could know Eritrean philosophers whom I could quote with quotable remarks on the subject I have been interested and writing. I will not hesitate to do it, as far as it enhances my argument.”

        1. – So you don’t know any quotable remarks from an Eritrean? it is sad. But I do. I’m proud to be the son of the social scientists engineers and philosophers of their time, who built centuries old churches mosques monasteries statues that are standing to this day. I’m proud to be the son of the social scientists and philosophers of their time, who wrote Higi Adkeme-MilgaA, Higi Lege-Chwa, Higi ShewAte-Anseba, Higi Edgna-Tegeleba and SherEya laws, in order to deliver justice to those who needed it in their respective communities – laws that stood the test of time and the scrutiny of contemporary intelligentsia, I might add. I’m proud to be the son of the few social scientists and philosophers in this world who created their own alphabets to record their history, their faith, and their laws – that is still serving as a foundation for a civilized Eritrea. I’m proud to be the son of the social scientists, engineers, philosophers and businessmen who build Adulis Qohaito (rocky) Axum and who traded with people from the Middle East, Africa and Far East. I wish I was endowed half of their wisdom, I wish I knew one tenth of one percent what they knew. I can talk about the proverbs, the stories, the fables, the jokes, the wisdom, the bravery and ingenuity of my peers, my fathers, my great grandfathers and beyond all year long – and still it won’t be enough.

        The point: you don’t need to travel half the glob to find “quotable remarks” of wisdom. That’s absurd.

        2. – To answer your question very clearly – I believe, like almost all nations in this world, what Eritrea needs is a highly centralized government. The reason: All governments are centralized governments; even those who claim to have federal government. Yes, even in those who claim to have federal or decentralized governments, no regional or state leaders could thumb their noses at their central government and get away with it. Always the central government’s laws, regulations and policies supersedes state laws and policies. State/regional/local governments are allowed to have only limited authority primarily that doesn’t contradict with laws, regulations and policies of the central government.

        3. – To have a successful federal or decentralized government (a system of government that has weak central government) you (a) must have bullet proof insurance from global powers or (b) must be a populous big country with large armed forces and strong economy. In the absence of economic and military might, in the absence of bullet proof insurance from global powers, it is impossible for a small poor country like Eritrea to have decentralized or federal government.

        4. – If history is a guide, one of the reasons why ELF failed to exist is, because it allowed the Arab BeAsists, the sore losers (like Hiruy Tedla), the Islamists, the sub-nationalists, the ultra-conservatives to have a field day in its belly.

        5. – Now tell me: How could a week central government in Eritrea govern, if Ethiopia funded Unionists, Saudi funded Islamists, Al-QaEda inspired Jihadists, Egypt funded Arabists are allowed to blackmail the central government? In Eritrea, decentralized government is the current opposition on steroids.

        6. – Or unless you can prove to me that, under the leadership of the current opposition, Eritrea will secure bullet proof insurance from the West. Then and only then we can entertain the idea of decentralized government. In the absence of Western insurance, arguing about decentralized or federal system of government is just waste of time.

        Semere Tesfai

        • Music Novice

          Greetings Semere T.,

          You have rhetorical but very interesting ideas.

          Can we for the moment shelve conspiracy theory based thinking and start from the basics?

          For example, for you, what constitutes democracy? Can you give short, clear and precise answers?
          Unless one agrees on basic definitions, it will be like trying to communicate using mutually unintelligible languages.

          My personal opinion is that democracy is based on the following three cornerstones:

          1) A constitution
          2) An independent judiciary
          3) A free press.

          • Semere Tesfai

            Selam Music Novice

            Just for the sake of argument, let’s say Eritrea manged to have your three “cornerstones” for democracy to your liking – namely functioning constitution, independent judiciary and a whole lot of independent press.

            If the West, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Egypt doesn’t like your “cornerstones” of democracy and started arming and funding political factions they want to bring to power, would your democracy work? Absolutely not.

            If you are expecting Switzerland in the Horn of Africa without the blessing of global powers, you are very naive.

            Semere Tesfai

          • Abraham Hanibal

            Ato Semere,

            So what is the alternative to the three cornerstones as put by MN? Is it dictatorship like what we have now that doesn’t respect the human and democratic rights, and that doesn’t deliver justice to its citizens? What guaratees does this type of system have in securing peace, stability, unity, and a non-destructive interference from the external powers? What is the meaning of having a given nation that keeps its citizens under oppression for the sake of having a “nation”? I don’t understand your viewpoints.

          • Music Novice

            Greetings Semere,

            You see, you cannot resist muddying the waters again. Why do you have to say “democracy to your liking”?

            I gave you my definition of democracy, but rather than giving your own definition you skirt past my questions and hide behind allegations (opinions and value statements) about x,y,z not liking my “cornerstones”.

            Now, can you get back on track and answer my original questions in short, clear and concise manner?

        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Hi Semere Tesfay,

          Sem, while I respect the minds of our fathers and forefathers (knowledge and wisdom) to challenge the problems of their time, I was looking for “contemporary minds” who could meet the challenges of our time – philosophers who reads the sociopolitical dynamics of our era. I am sorry Ethiopia and the Western countries are always in the fear of your dreams. Wake up please and move on with the new dynamics to make ourselves relevant to what the new realities demand. Your argument is to defend the regime not to the interest of our people.

          Amanuel Hidrat

  • Abraham Hanibal

    Dear Amanuel H.,

    Thank you for your article that attempts to find some kind of formula for post-Isayas Eritrea make up of system of government. I hope you’ve time to address the following questions.

    1) How is the power to be divided between the two chambers of the legislative body? Where does the highest power lie? From which chamber is the government going to be formed?

    2) How are the representatives of the social groups/ethnic groups to be elected? Are each of the ethnic groups going to have their respective political party that promotes their interests? Also remember in each Awaraja (your choice for the administrative units), there are a combination of the different ethnic groups. How do you address this fact? May be we should have a political party for each Awraja that would represent each of the ethnic groups within that Awraja? If so, how are the representatives in the Awaraja administrative unit going to be elected; by popular vote, or by some sort of appointment that would guarantee a fair representation of the ethnic groups? I ask this, because if you leave it to popular vote, then the ethnic group with greater number of inhabitants would win the vote, and that would not guarantee the desired participation of the minority groups.

    3) What do you mean by proportional representation in one of the chambers of the parliament? Proportion in terms of ethnic groups, awrajas, or political parties?

    4) In your article political parties are not mentioned at all. Will there be any political parties at all, and how would they be comprised? Are they going to be based on ethnic, awraja, religion, or some other criteria, or a combination of these? If they are going to be based on ethnicity, we know which ethnic groups that would come out dominant, likewise if they are going to be based on awrajas.

    5) You envision greater degree of decentralization, regarding political and administrative issues for the awrajas. What does this really mean as applied to the Eritrean reality? How would the much less developed and deprived awrajas of Denkalia, Sahel, Barka, Semhar, etc cope in terms of delivering administrative, social, and infrastructural, etc, services that compete or match with those awrajas that have a better human, material, and infrastructural resources? Don’t you think this kind of partition would only worsen the already very weak competitive capacity of the periphery Eritrea with the more developed Awrajas, thereby creating a favorable atmosphere for civil strife, and increasing the grievances which you’re so passionately preoccupied with?

    Thank you for your time

    PS. I appriciate it if you address the questions with regard to your current article, though you may feel free to refer to your previous works, but no referencing me to those previous artiles please,as my questions are directed to your cureent article.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Merahaba Abraham,

      Actually this article was intend to show a proof for Saay” he use to mock at me (as some one who speaks without any clue and can not correct himself) when we debate a month or so ago, that federalism is also decentralized unitary governance. Despite that fact I was trying to connect my argument with my last years essay of January 2014 to relate with the proposal I tried to forward at that time. But since your questions are an honest questions, I will try to address them. Okay let me start:

      1 – The central government is formed by the three chambers of governing body (a) executive (b) the legislative (c) the judiciary. In my argument I am proposing a bicameral legislative body in order to address the grievances of our social government (to reflect fair sharing to our minorities). Since the executive is occupied by the winner of the the contesting political parties and the judiciary is occupied from the legal communities, the only way our minorities could get a fair sharing is in the legislative chamber. Hence one chamber by equal proportion (the total seats will be decided of the chamber will be decided by the constitution) and second chamber is by proportional representation (the total seats in the chamber will be decided again by the constitution). In my argument I presented as co-equal powers of legislative (the detail of their power again should spell out in the constitution). So clearly my argument is structural argument.

      2-The representatives of the social group will be elected based on the electoral law of the nation. So if the nation agreed on the structural change, it means, the electoral laws are made to reflect that change on how the election could be adjudicated. Also since election is a technical in nature it should be spell out in the electoral laws how the electoral commission will implement it. The possible dispersion of the the social groups is not a problem. Each
      social group could make an election conference at each cycle of election
      to send their representatives for the seats allocated to them (this is for the equal representation chamber). The second chamber is by popular vote from the “administrative units” by proportional representation (population base determine the number of seats).

      3- The proportional representation means the number of seats appropriated to the administrative depending on the population of the unit of administration. suppose for Hamasien if it is given 10 seats depending on its population, the ten seats will be divided into the districts of that administrative units by popular vote election. (keep in mind the total seats of the chamber will be divided in to the administrative units depending on their population). In here the candidates will be resident of the administrative units and can be independent or members of the party. This chamber will not be based on religion or social group (ethnic). It will simply be by popular vote from the administrative units.

      4- The executive chamber of the government will be occupied by the contesting parties however the numbers of the parties they are. (keep in mind we didn’t yet decided whether it is Presidential or parliamentary of the institutional process in electing the head of the state).

      5- If you see in my from flow chart and my argument the thee decentralization “political, administrative, and fiscal decentralization,” I only prefer to devolve the “political and administrative” to the “administrative units” and left the fiscal budget to the central government specifically to both legislative chambers. The responsibilities of the appropriations of the budget to the administrative units is under the power of the legislative body. There will not be fiscal devolution to the administrative units for underdeveloped Eritrea nation. The fiscal will be decided by central government.

      PS – my argument is structural argument and institutional system argument in this article. I am not going to draft a constitution and promote the detail how the country will be run. My argument is specific. But I hope it will to your satisfaction what I have tried to answer your questions, despite it is beyond my article’s argument.

      Thank you
      Amanuel Hidrat

      • Abraham Hanibal

        Dear Amanuel H.,

        Thanks again for your time and answers. You have clarified some of my questions, however, I still need some clarifications on these issues:

        1) What does co-equal powers of the two chambers mean in practice?

        2) From your answer to this point the seat of the representatives of the ethnic groups, and the other chamber would be the national parliament? But who is going to administer the administrative units/awrajas?

        3) Here you write the proportionally represented chamber would be formed by members elected from the awrajas contesting either as independents or as members of political parties. You also
        write that this chamber would be based neither on ethnicity nor religion? Does this mean political parties formed on the basis of ethnic or religious grounds would be banned? In your view on what basis would political parties be formed?

        4) Here you write the executive body of the central government would be occupied by the contesting political parties. Does this mean those independent representatives of the proportional chamber would not have the chance to join the executive body? What if a certain awraja doesn’t have any political party or what if certain awrajas or parties form a constant partnership (like that of the EPRDF) thereby dominating the executive body and the proportional chamber all the time?

        5) When asking this question, I’ve noticed from your article that you’ve limited the fiscal powers to the central government; hence my question was only directed to the political and administrative powers of the warajas. Therefore, here you didn’t address my question regarding the challenges that would be faced, especially by the less developed awrajas in dealing with the administrative tasks that would be devolved to them.


        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Dear Haw Abraham,

          Sorry for a belated response to your questions. However my answers will be short and precise. And here are as follows:

          1- Co-equal power refers to the two chambers of legislative, and it means equal power in legislating and passing bills and national fiscal budgets.

          2-Indeed yes that the two chambers are the “national parliament”. The administrators of the administrative units or awrajas will be the “governors” who will be elected by the population of the administrative units as part of the political and administrative power develoved to the periphery from the center.

          3- The constitution should give full freedom to organize in any form or shape as part of our liberty be it for civic or political end. Remember the legislative office and administrative offices are two different. The parties compete for executive office and the representatives compete for the legislative offices.

          4- If members of the parliament are assigned for the executive offices by the head of the state for the specific term, they will give up their seats and will be filled by a substitute from the administrative unit they were elected. The parties are national parties and are not awraja parties. The parties compete on national bases for the head of the executive (if it is presidential) and if is prime ministerial the party that wins the majority seats will elect the prime minister.

          5- In my article of 2014, I have stated that the provinces are part of our identities (geographical identity). Many of the provinces resisted the current regional division to maintain their identity. They reflect to their psychological and communual unity. We had not a problem with that set ups. I still believe there are enough educated pools in each administrative units to administer their administrative units. There will no be short of human resources. In terms of other resources they will get a fair share of budgets from the central government specifically from the legislative body. Since the challenge will be the fiscal budget, I let it to be left to the central government to receive from the national government budget appropriations.

          Amanuel Hidrat

          • Abraham Hanibal

            Dear Amanuel H,

            Thanks again, I need further clarification on these points from your reply:

            3) You advocate for political parties to be formed on any form or shape. Do you believe parties formed around ethnicity and religion are helpful to the peaceful co-existence between our sections of society? Don’t you think certain majority groups of the society could gain increased powers with respect to the minority groups? From your previous reply you write that the proportional chamber of parliament would be derived from members who would compete as independents and those who would compete as members of political parties. But here you’re saying that the political parties would only compete for the executive office, while the representatives would compete for the legislative offices. Would you clarify this? From my understanding of your previous reply, the executive office would be held by the political party/parties that win the national elections. This means those members who are elected as independents cannot join the executive office because they are not members of any political party?

            4) The reason for dividing Eritrea into administrative units/awrajas is to satisfy the need for local democracy, as well as guarantee a fair representation of the people in the national parliament. However, it is not guaranteed that certain awrajas would have political parties. In this situation the allocated seats to these awrajas would be held by independent representatives, and hence they would not join the executive body as they are not members of a political party. Is this fair? Let’s say a party for Eritrean Christians wins elections in the kebessa, and a number of other awrajas. This means this party would have a dominant position in the proportional chamber, as well as securing the executive power. Do you see this to be a fair representation of Eritrea’s diverse society? You said those representatives who join the executive office would vacate their seats at the proportional chamber, but those seats would naturally be filled by members of the same political party/parties anyway, so it doesn’t have any difference in terms of decreasing the dominance of the proportional chamber by those parties.

            5) In this point I do not agree with your evaluation of the capacity of the less developed awrajas versus the more developed ones. Remember when you constitutionally devolve
            political and administrative powers to the awrajas, they are required by law to deliver the necessary services of education, health care, social services, infrastructure and communication services, etc to their inhabitants. And there is undoubtedly a huge gap between the awrajas in their capabilities in terms of human resources, skilled manpower, infrastructure, etc, making it difficult to meet the requirements that are guaranteed by law.


          • Kokhob Selam

            Dear Abraham.

            very good again, keep asking till you are satisfied. Never leave this article till you fully understand. I am still reading again and again. if you need more information go back to his old articles, I am sure you will find a lot of things to learn. because of this article I have gone far even reading what others in Ethiopia wrote about decentralization and found out that this article is unique of it’s kind which was prepared after much research of our society make up . in fact you will soon notice that what you put in number five is solved as it is unified government that is proposed by him …. and what, it has one great job on this article – that will not allow separation of any part in this nation but without applying force – which means it serves the needs and requirements of the entire nation. in fact I am going to say it in Tigrinya what I mean. Keep it up, we should exploit the knowledge our great men like Amanuel

          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Merhaba Abraham,

            Okay, I will not leave a stone unturned to respond to your questions, though we are going to nitty-gritty (special details) though sometimes by indulging to structural filling, that demand collective input of citizens or some kind of process. Anyhow it want be bad to hear how I think.

            For Q-3, In principle as part of our people’s liberty we can not disallow to organize in any shape or form. But here is the catch: Since the parties are national parties, the ethnic parties can’t have broad national support to win the office of the head of state, if they try to organize by ethnicity. So what good is good for them to organized by ethnic if there is no room for broad support to win the election. The current coalescing all the minorities and framing their politics by religion is simply because of the existing marginalization. If they are given the needed fair share in governing our country, I assure they will not be organized by religion. I have been with them hearing all kinds of grievances they don’t have intentions to organize by religion if we address their grievance. You could see the difference of our politics when we honestly tackle their grievances. Second since the election is nationwide for the executive office, the chance of winning by independent contestant is almost none. The parties who have nationwide members have only the chance to win, otherwise in principle independents have the right to compete. The best chance for an independent to compete and win is for the legislative office. But if you mean to be selected by the head of state to serve in the executive branch from the legislative, I don’t think he will have a chance for that, for sure the elected head of state will chose from his party.

            for- Q-4 ; The national parliament (the two chambers) will elected as independent or party contestants. However the national parties will have nationwide members (in all the administrative units). There is no such provincial parties in my proposal, Only a national party ( a party that could have broad nation wide members). If somehow the constitution allow provincial parties, then it will be only for purposes of winning for legislative representatives.

            (I will edit later and include an answer for your Q-5)

          • tes

            Dear Amanuel Hidrat,

            As the world of governance dictates, the winner in a political campaign of governance governs the state until his time period expires. And a new force who won the sit replaces. Saying that, I see contradictions again.

            These are the lines which I found them self-contradicting

            1. “Since the parties are national parties, the ethnic parties can’t have broad national support to win the office of the head of state, if they try to organize by ethnicity. So what good is good for them to organized by ethnic if there is no room for broad support to win the election.

            2. ” If they are given the needed fair share in governing our country, I assure they will not be organized by religion.”

            If they don’t have parties (as you said they have no interest except because they are now as they are because of their grievances – emphasis mine), how can they will be given a fair share in governance? Are they going to expect a donner to be in power and distribute power sharing?


            +My previous questions were pending but if you are not interested in responding, no worries.

          • AOsman

            Dear Tes,

            What AH is saying the reason you have ethnic or religious based configuration is due to the mistrust that exists. Generally this is not ideal, but since it is reality that you need to deal with, the bicameral legislative proposed works as a minimum level of participation/engagement.

            If people are confident the system in place will not be of detriment to their respective group, they have no reason to become defensive and create social group based blocks. Therefore political parties would naturally be broad based to widen their support, rather than ethnic based. However, if we fail from the get go, then you will have what you see in the opposition.


          • tes

            Dear AOSman,

            Let me first be clear with myself. So far, I have not aired my views on what can be good for Eritrea to stay stable with a sound and practical governance system. I understand that Amanuel Hidrat did a great job in this regard. And I want to advance his topics at my level best by asking clarity and sometimes challenge his proposal indirectly.

            Back to your point

            I agree with you(&AH) that those who are flourishing (not diminishing) ethnic or religious based configuration need a participatory governance system. However the question I have is: are they going to compete for power or be granted for power?

            If they compete for power why then establish a party that advances their interest? Or they will wait for a decent government who will understand [[just] their grievances and give them a room to administer their cause? -If our intention is the later, I think the governing body will be a phantom.

            Thank you


          • AOsman

            Dear Tes,

            Please check the following response by AH to Abraham Hanibal as I am not sure if I understood you right. I am on the move, hopefully it answers you query.

            In the DUG you will have the

            (a) The Executive – Parties compete (Broadbased or Ethno based as people wish)
            (b) The legislative – Bicameral ( Proportional Rep + Ethic based allocation)
            (c) The judiciary – Based on Qualification



          • Abraham Hanibal

            Selamat Amanuel H,

            3) You wrote, “since the parties are national parties, the ethnic parties can’t have broad national support to win the office of the head of state, if they try to organize by ethnicity”. According to your view, parties could organize along any line they wish. You are speaking about the current parties that are organized along ethnic/religious grounds. But if you allow the people to organize along ethnic/religious groups through the constitution, then it means those groups that are in majority would find it more natural to form political parties along their respective groups. Remember politics is all about securing access to power (decision making process) and resources. This means, for example, an Eritrean Christian party would win all or majority of the seats that would be allocated to Kebessa, may be also other seats allocated to other awrajas as well. Now you end up with this party dominating the proportional chamber, meaning it would also dominate the executive office. Therefore, allowing ethnic or religious political parties would lead to a dictatorship of the majority ethnic groups over the minority. There may also be a situation where none of the competing political parties have a list of candidates in certain awraja(s). In that case, according to your model, the allocated seats for those awrajas would be taken only by independents, who would not have access to the executive office because they are not members of political parties. This situation makes limiting the executive office only to political parties problematic.

            4) Again you’re mixing matters here. Before you said one chamber would be equally occupied by representatives of every ethnic group. And its members would be elected through a conference of each ethnic group. While the second chamber (the proportional one), would be occupied by members who get elected as independents or members of parties through national election. But now you’re saying “the members of the parliament
            of the two chambersare winners of the elections either as independents or party members”. I’m confused here regarding the composition of the chambers.

            Here my concern is not about presidential or parliamentary system; rather I’m concerned about the weakness of your model that allows domination of power by certain social groups as I explained in point nr.(3).

            5) Again here you keep repeating the same thing all over again. I’ve told you that I’ve noticed your limitation of the devolution to the awrajas only on political and administrative aspects. And my worry is not about allocation of budget to the awrajas; it is rather about how effective and efficient the less developed awrajas would be in dealing with their devolved tasks in comparison with the developed ones. Now you’re saying that the less developed provinces can hire excess qualified personnel from other provinces. First there is no guarantee that there would be excess of qualified personnel, but also what is the point in devolving such huge tasks to the awrajas if they cannot administer and run their services as required to them by the law in the first place? Do you see the weakness of your argument? Decentralization doesn’t necessarily mean an increased exercise of democracy and self-governance. You need to have in place vital services and infrastructure first, before you embark on decentralization.


          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Haw Abraham,

            we have travelled so far this distance on our conversation in the tough issue of our politics. Let me make this short concluding remark. Take my suggestion as contengency perspectives if you will come with better suggestion or proposal to mitigate the grievances of Eritrean social group. Let me also reminding you that fair sharing or fair distribution of power doesn’t mean equal sharing in the whole set up governmental structure. I thank you for the engagement.


          • Abraham Hanibal

            Dear Amanuel Hidrat,

            I also thank you for your time and for sharing your ideas and views. I hope our leaders take the time to sit together and discuss openly all the underlying issues so that they could come up with a broad consensus regarding Eritrea’s future political make up. After many decades, we know that the Isayas regime in Asmara is not willing to engage in any form of negotiations. It only believes in force, therefore, it is unfortunately, not possible to conduct consultations with the different social groups inside our country. However, the discussions can start now in the diaspora, and could be continued later on with the stake holders inside Eritrea, after the removal of the current regime. I believe there is nothing of discords that cannot be solved through dialogue and the spirit of open-minded deliberations.

            Kind regards

        • Kokhob Selam

          Dear Abraham,
          your questions were very good for me and for those who read the article with me. similar questions were asked which we try to reply but we couldn’t the way it should. I think He answered them bellow correctly.

          Abraham, please ask such questions as those are the questions most of the time I witnessed from others around me and me.

  • Pass the salt

    Hello all,
    I know everyone is waiting for my daily editorial. Fine, I will do it.
    (Thanks Amanuel for providing the house within a house)

    President Isaias often complains about the SEMG. His issues are about lots of things but the main complaint is on SEMG’s activities that are far and beyond its MANDATE. While the mandate was at looking into allegations of Eritrea’s support for Al-Shebab and also Eritrea’s conflict with Djibouti, what is being done is intrusive scrutiny on Eritrea’s internal and external sovereign affairs that have no connection with the mandate of the group. Isias surely wouldn’t have liked to disclose the annual 2% diaspora tax and the Bisha mine revenues, or being asked to submit budget report or bank accounts of senior officials, among other things.

    I could understand and be sympathetic to his grievance. However, a believer of what goes around comes around (ኢድ ሸናሒት፤ ጸናሒት). For 20 years, Isias has exceeded his MANDATE far and beyond. To mention few: he dissolved the parliament; he froze the constitution and finally discarded it; he extended the national service to op-ended; he shut down the press permanently; he postponed the election that was scheduled for 2001; and now he is replacing what was ‘provisional’ identity card with, shall we call it ‘permanent’
    I would ask him if he acknowledges his actions constitute serious violations of his mandate.

  • tes

    Dear Amanuel Hidrat,

    First of all I would like to thank you for bringing to readers this important topic.

    Saying that, I would prefer to go straight to questions that I have for you.

    1. You put, “Besides the lack of constitutional order in our nation…”


    a. What you put is true and what we fight for is for our country to have a constitution. How then you propose a system of governance without first and for most stetting a constitution? I am asking this because in your literature review I have not seen any link between the system of governance and constitution.

    b. Which should come first, constitution or building system of governance? If your answer is the first (that is constitution), how then our social groupings can be treated? If the second is your response, social groupings (ethnic) based federal system is not practical. Let me put what you said, “…social groups are not sufficiently concentrated and lacks of compact settlement, the argument “ethnic-based administrative units” is not logical way for our reality.”

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Selam tes,

      The constitution will comprise (a) Bill of rights (b) structure and model of government including the administrative units and how the power is shared or delegated and (c) other specifics land and languages….etc. Therefore my argument is a constitutional argument specifically directed on the model and structure of governance as a philosophy and as a structure. Or in short I am addressing some constitutional elements “the system and its structure.” While “Decentralized unitary governance” is a system with its structure, I am arguing a constitutional change to reflect the system “decentralized unitary governance.” To have a comprehensive understanding to my argument, also revisit my article “Hard talk: The contours of change and the equilibrium of the parts.”

      Amanuel Hidrat

      • tes

        Dear Amanuel Hidrat,

        I can read and read many articles including yours. But I need clarification on what you write here. I want to talk and discuss on this article. If you direct me to other articles, I think it is not going to be fruitful. Think as if you are defending your article and finally to be accepted or rejected.

        Coming back to business, what I put still stands tall.

        Are you then talking on constitutional make-up or system of governance?

        I think constitution is above governance or system of administration. And what I can see is, you took as default for the absence of constitution. Then, I kindly ask you to respond my questions.

        How are our social groupings be treated in our constitution?

        Do you believe that the social grievances will still continue to exist if we build a constitution that respects human rights on equal bases? I know it will take time, but how far you can imagine?

        If our social grievances can not be finished, then, are you proposing ‘Crisis Management” or “Normal Life Management”?

        The rest of my questions remain still on air (1, 2, and 3).


  • saay7

    Hey Emma:

    Thanks for this long-promised article. To help us have an inclusive discussion, it is best that we try to stay away from semantics which really do not help to clarify the issue and are actually distractions. You and I had that on whether a “federal state is a unitary state” and, if you remember, nobody joined the discussion.

    A layman language everybody can understand would be “centralized” vs “decentralized” vs “extremely decentralized.” It would also help if we focus the debate ENTIRELY on Eritrea, and use the examples of other countries only if we think it is relevant to us. That is, it would be best if we can limit the comparisons to nations that are pre-literate, poor, diverse, and with uneven development–although, on the aggregate, still undeveloped.

    And to help the debate along, it would be best if we can list the advantages AND disadvantages of centralized, decentralized and extremely decentralized systems.

    You have made the case for a decentralized system; you have listed its advantages. Are you saying there are no disadvantages or are you saying the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages? Here are some disadvantages I see in a decentralized system:

    1. You lose economies of scale. In macroecon, as you know, “economies of scale” are benefits that accrue to an entity (State, company) due to size/scale. Part of the reason presented by the PFDJ for its land policy was for the State to benefit from economies of scale: agro-business cannot be created from tiny plots of lands which have to be negotiated with multiple parties.

    2. Decentralization does not automatically equal excellent governance. The mantra that “that which governs closest governs best” works in literate, developed societies. In underdeveloped, pre-literate societies, there is a danger of trading one tyrant with many mini-tyrants. Decentralization actually requires a more sophisticated governance because you are adding one more layer to the national government structure, which can be disastrous when you don’t have a pool of qualified candidates.

    3. Decentralization can become “Aboka Merq, Abokha rgem” (curse/bless your ancestors) because resources are almost never uniformly spread in a State. In the case of Eritrea, we have rocky lands (kebesa), deserts (Afar) mine-rich lands (Gash), bread-basket lands (Gash-Barka), lands with sea shores (Sahel), lands that have already benefited greatly from Italian colonization (Kebesa), lands that have extremely high literacy rates (Kebesa) and extremely low literacy rates (Southern Red Sea.) Since politics is mostly about power allocation; and power is about resource allocation, this makes it different to build a nation.

    4. Decentralization allows border states (as explained by T.T. in the case of Sudan) to see neighboring states as centers of gravity and natural allies ABOVE the central government of their own country. Geographically, ethnically, Southern Red Sea (Denkalia) is a lot close to Ethiopian hinterland than it is to Asmara. It also happens to have a very long coastline, it includes Asab (the long-crave Eritrean port) and sits close to the mouth of the uber-strategic Bab el Mendeb.

    A proposal for decentralization has to address all of the above without dismissing all those question its validity for Eritrea as chauvinists, hegemons, etc.

    Let the debate begin.


    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Merhaba Saay,

      First the reason why I wrote this piece with this effort, you know it. Our debate is the precursor to this article. Nothing else. Actually you give me ample of time to make my case, and I did. But, leaving aside that, let me state one thing straight forward and unambiguously. You and me have no interest except the Eritrean people to live in peace and governed fairly. I believe that is the reason we are in the opposition.

      Now, you are right that this essay is not written in a layman language and my intention wasn’t even to the bystander effect, rather it is for the political elites to find a common ground who are always at odd each other. I believe the division of the Eritrean political elites is the main cause to all kind of mistrust in our society. According to materialistic values and conventional attitudes, political elites are petty bourgeois (middle class in western way of saying) and always have a vacillating characters. Political elites usually are divided in the political dichotomy keeping with states que versus those who seeks changes. If you see in our reality the Yemanes, Kishas, Zemhrets.. etc versus those elites in the opposition camp. The same can be said within the oppositions that they are divided on by peaceful means versus by all means. So my theory is always if you reconcile the elites you reconcile the Eritrean people. So I believe the specific model, I have initiated will address the social conflict of Eritrean politics.

      Second, since my “specific” choice of decentralization only includes “political decentralization” and “administrative decentralization” devolving certain powers to the provinces (my choice of administrative units) and doesn’t include “fiscal decentralization” and “market centralization” (because Eritrea being as one of the underdeveloped countries the prerequisites aren’t there as your concern in point-2) your concern on point-1 and point-3 is not valid. In the flow chart market decentralization as a structure is omitted and “fiscal budgets” are relegated to the legislative body of the central government. The legislative body will appropriate the fiscal budget to the “administrative units”.

      Fourth, though the contractual issue is done by the executive body with foreign investors, in exploiting the natural resources, the legislative body must constitutionally have the supervising power to control the money, resources and their allocations. So all the scenario you mentioned in your point-3 is resolved by the power of the legislative.

      Fifth your point-4 concern will be addressed by devolution of power to the administrative units which will be decided by the consensus of the Eritrean people through their representatives in the transitional period endorsed by giving referendum to vote the Eritrean people to it. Remember my argument in the essay is only structural argument, the constitutional detail argument will be done in the constitutional process during the transitional process.

      Sixth, those who want to argue for centralized unitary government and “decentralized federalism” must come with their proposal with full blown essay with a structural explanation to make their case similar to mine. Then the public will compare and contrast them.

      Amanuel Hidrat

      • saay7

        Selamat Emma:

        Thanks for the clarification. What I would like you to do, with respect, is to descend from the 30,000 foot discussion of the abstract down to sea level, where the rubber meets the road, where the hooves scrape the Eritrean dirt.

        First, you have defined the center(Asmara.) But What is the periphery? What are those units? Are they the traditional provinces (hamma, akele, seraye, senHit, etc)? If so, and I am not being flippant, what is your rationale for it? Every gov that comes to power arranges admin units to serve its interests (the Italians did, the Brits did, Haile Selasse did, Mengistu did): what admin units are u recommending and why?

        Second, in politics, he who holds the purse strings, holds the power. If the administrative units have no power of the purse strings—no ability to tax, no ability to allocate money–what is their power and authority? And isn’t their power entirely dependent on the center, ie, whatever gets allocated to them using a formula?

        In other words, what I want you to do is to take Eritrea as it is in 2015, and propose your vision with as much detail as, at least, the Federalist have done. That’s to say, we have a vision for a highly centralized unitary state (PFDJ National Charter), we have a vision for highly decentralized Federal state (EFDM, which actually describes the units/states/components of the federation.). What we don’t have is any details on your vision: the decentralized unitary government. Please add some meat to the bone so we can have something that actually addresses the points I raised.



        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Merhaba Saay,

          The periphery are the “administrative units” where certain power of the center will devolve to. And the administrative units are the Eritrean provinces. The reason – these provinces were and still are the geographical identity of Eritrean society. It becomes part of their psychological identity that describe them as their peculiar entity . Many of our population consider the current government snatched one of the layers of the Eritrean identity.

          Second the center includes, the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary as central government. The executive is to administer and submit budget proposal to the legislative. The legislative will debate on the proposal will increase and decrease depending on the purse (without going to detail). On taxing, the executive will only enforce the tax laws as an executive what the legislative have passed as a bill or statutory laws. And yes according my proposal the fiscal budget will be appropriated to the administrative units by the central government (specifically the legislative body). I don’t see fiscal decentralization in our reality at this time (if you read my argument).

          Third, though as governing body PFDJ and as party had a detailed programs that serve for “centralized unitary government”, I haven’t seen any detail from EFDM except dividing Eritrea in three regions. No detail of the central government and the degree of power that might devolve to the the three regions. Mine is by far detailed in my article of January 2014. You could compare it if you want. Remember they are a party again. I have given you the structural of decentralizing unitary governance with full argument. Mine is a systematic structural change that I would like to supersede the PFDJ system.

          Amanuel Hidrat

          • saay7

            Anta Emma:

            What you wrote in January 2014 was “contours….” Part V. Do u really think people actually remember what u wrote part 1 thru 5, a year and 10 months ago? What I am asking u is this: take out all the footnotes, come down from 30,000 ft, and propose your DUG for Eritrea using specifics. This reduces chance of misunderstanding and provides clarity and encourages participation and critical questioning. You can’t use ur older articles like the old commercial for Prego which said “it’s in there”, anytime u asked if it has tomatoes, garlic, etc.


          • Amanuel Hidrat

            Anta saay eba,
            Aren’t you making reference the pfdj charter that was written in 1994 and EFDM’s proposal that around 2005. And mine a year ago which is just one click to tebeges file. You know you can do it. If it is old commercial for prego Let’s leave it there. I can only say thank you for whatever you say.

          • Kokhob Selam

            ሳልሕ ሓወይ :-
            ኣነ ሕጂ ኣብ ኣብ ማእከላይ ምብራቕ ኣለኹ : እምን ኣይትእመን ምሉእ ለይቲ ሰለም ከይብልኩ ነዛ ናይ ኣማኑኤ ጽሕፍቲ ተተሓሒዘያ ሓዲረ : ዝገርመካ ትማሊ ኣዝዩ ከቢድ ስራሕ እዩ ነይሩኒ – ኣንጊሀ ድማ ናብ ኣዝዩ ኣገዳሲ ስራሕ ክግስግስ ኣለኒ : ገና ድማ ነዛ ኣርእስቲ ምስ ብጾተይ ንጅምዓት ድሕሪ ሰላተል ዝሁር ኣንቢብና ክንመያየጠላ ኢና :: ንስኻን ኣማኑኤልን ኩሉኹም ኣብ ዓዋተ እትነጥፉ እተቅርብዎ ጽሑፋት ኣዝዩ ኣገዳሲ እዩ :: እዚ ‘ውን እኮ ምህሮ እዩ :እዚ ውን እኮ ግድል እዩ :-እዚ ውን እኮ ባና ጽባሕ እዩ :: ወረ ኣነስ ነዚ ጽሑፋት ብሰሚናር መልክዕ ክቀርብ ምመረጽኩ ::

            ወላሂ ብሰንኪ እዛ ጽሕፍቲ ክሳብ ሕጂ ኣርባዕተ ሕሉፍ ዓንቀጻት ኣንቢበ ኣለኹ ሰለስት ናይ ኣሙኒ – ሓንቲ ናይ ናይር ::

  • FYI

    Hello Lovely people!

    I know this post perhaps has nothing to do with this topic but it seems from the 24 players that went to Botswana, 10 of them have asked for asylum.


  • T..T.

    Hi Amanuel and all,

    In choosing a system between federalism and decentralization by advantages, the best system under the Eritrean circumstances will also focus on avoiding the same mistakes, i.e., dominance of one social group over others. Trust already evaporated under Isayasism and only the way to secure national survival is vide Federalism.

    Eritrea’s present circumstances push each social group, including the Danakils and Kunamas, to make sure they control their own destiny and space enjoying their peace from within. To ensure their peace from within, they are calling for Federalism enshrined in the country’s (Eritrea’s) constitution. Here, I distance their demand for the inclusion of their right to secession as to emphasize the fact that their agreement to join the Federation does not deny them the right to withdraw. It can be taken that such a demand for self-determination rules out decentralized system because they know how it functions the Sudan.

    Therefore, the suggested federalism is to convince them not to call for inclusion of self-determination and knowing that federalism is their minimum demand for national survival of Eritrea as a unitary state.

    Accordingly, ERITREANS SHOULD DEVELOP THEIR OWN FORM OF FEDERALISM that is tailored to the needs of the country and the demands of the people. For example, the role of Cantons in Switzerland is to protect their federalism as well as the role of ethnic groups in Ethiopia is to guarantee the country’s federalism. In each case the country’s federalism is linked to the existing close-knit of the people giving the best ground for the people, be it, cantons, provinces, districts, or states to involve in their politics and decision making process at their level.

  • Dear Amanuel Hidrat,

    congra for a work well done.

    i can see that you ruled out ethnic federalism for eritrea; and you entertain a decentrilized unitary government with political and administrative power devolving to the provinces, and also, you advocate a bicameral legislative body consisting of equal representation of the social groups (i do not know if social groups is equivalent to ethnic groups) and proportional representation of the population (again, i do not know if this means that of the provinces or ethnic groups). i am sorry that i am not aware of the political division of eritrea. what i want to ask is, if this arrangement solves ethnic grievances that may exist, and in what way? in other words, an explanation of the above in simple terms, having as an example the eritrean reality.

    from a student ready to learn. sorry if it is a repeat question.


    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Dear Horizon,

      Thank you. I will get back to you this evening. I am a bit busy now.


    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Dear Horizon,

      Yes I ruled out “ethnic federalism” for the reasons I have stated in my argument. Yes social groups is the same to ethnics. I prefer to call them “social groups” so one of the chamber will be represented equally by our social groups. There is no other structural representation in the government as the office of the executive will be occupied by the winning party in the national election and the judiciary will be occupied by constitutional lawyers who interpret the constitution law of the country. The provinces will be the administrative units where the power will be devolved. Plus assemble my argument what is in this article and in the link of my article of 2014. You will have a good picture


      Amanuel Hidrat

      • tes

        Dear Amanuel Hidrat,

        Aha, I got you. You mean then Social groupings = Ethnics.

        According to current classification system, Eritrea has 9 social groupings. Then, do you think our social grievances exist among these 9 social groupings.

        I though in the previous article when you said, I prefer social groupings instead of ethnics to have a different meaning. If so, I differ with you on what I mean bu social groupings.

        Anyway, then you are proposing 9 seats in one of the chambers, right?


      • Dear Amanuel Hidrat,

        thank you a lot for your time and the link you provided.
        as i read through the link, the following questions came to my mind:

        a) if a loose term “social group” can replace fully the term “ethnic group”,

        b) if the devolution of political and administrative power to the provinces in DUG is guaranteed by the constitution as it happens in a federation, or could it change now and then, increasing and decreasing according to the political situation,

        c) from what i understood, the 9 geographic identities do not coincide with the 9 ethnic identities. then, how are the 9 ethnic groups (especially the minorities who are supposed to live dispersed all over the country) going to choose their representatives to one of the two legislative chambers? in addition, can they block a legislation that might not support their ethnic interests?


        • Amanuel Hidrat

          Dear Hirizon,

          Let me give you a short answer. (a) “social groups” is a sociopolitical term and is the same as ethnics. it is just my preference of calling them (b) Yes on the development of the society and the desire of the public can include “fiscal decentralization” and “market decentralization” by constitutional amendments.(c) as to how our social groups (ethnics) will sent their representatives to the central government will be decided by the electoral laws after settling the constitutional order of the nation.

          Amanuel Hidrat

  • Amanuel

    Hi Amanuel
    Thanks for the educational and solution based unifying article.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Dear Amanuel (mekusi),

      Thank you for you feed back. Still I look forward to enhance and elevate the debate as you are one of the good debaters.


  • SenaiErtrawi

    Selam Aman,
    A good article and important topic for discussion. I have a question and a comment:

    Question: I am assuming you are thinking geography based/regional local states as opposed to ethnic based. What regional divisions (the old awrajas vs current zones) do you have in mind?

    Comment: The section on lack of qualified leadership should have been a different article – just to stay away from the land of “hodge·podge” 🙂

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Selam SenaiEritrawi,

      For the answer of your question please read the link below – the article I wrote in 2014. Check with the flow chart as shown in the piece.


      Amanuel Hidrat

      • SenaiErtrawi

        Aya Amanuel,
        Just to help lazy readers like me, I am quoting a paragraph from your 2014 article which I think you are pointing to.

        Bhatsiru, zemene-awraja ymeles behalay ikha 🙂

        “In order the constitution to be a unifying
        factor, this author argues (a) that the old administrative units must be
        reinstated (b) suggest a bicameral legislative body for equitable power
        sharing and (c) foresee the distribution of certain powers to the
        periphery (administrative units). To make the required changes we don’t
        need the whole constitutional process. It requires only a revision

  • T..T.

    Hi all,

    Isayasism is already at work turning Eritreans against each other by fanning ethnic and regional differences.

    So, what is the immediate alternative? A system that promotes a culture of tolerance and accommodation of what are perceived to be differences, where the first homework will be: Stage one, to manage the differences. Stage two; involve the people in solving their differences through engagement.

    Here, the best fit appears to be Federalism, whereas Decentralization will double the trouble caused and created by Isayas in that it will encourage the stronger to fight for more power sideling the weak to become weaker, hopeless and more vulnerable, while pushing them (the disadvantaged) to rise up in revolts against the central government (good example: DARFUR of the SUDAN) plunging the country into civil wars.

    Therefore, what do you really want? Equality, democracy, more rights, more economic initiatives of developments at right time for the right people, as needed. Otherwise, the after fact interventions by the government or the late initiatives, like what happened in Darfur, will not be an answer to the satisfaction of the disadvantaged people.

    Then, what is the best choice for the post-Isayas Eritrea? A system supported by a strong central government with deep seated governmental care for the disadvantaged to jack up them to the level of those already over water through fostering economic developments to achieve equality and eradicate disparity caused by Isayasism.

    Therefore, the right choice will be Federalism and not decentralization. The Eritrean Federalism will function to promote democracy vide decentralized provinces in lieu of Isayas’s dictatorship functioning to muzzle voices of dissent and adversarial-oppositions vide decentralized military-command.

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Selam, T.T,

      Can you enlighten us what kind of federalism will have, as there exist many federally structured governance? What are the requirement for a nation to have a federal government? If you advocate for federal government how many federal states are in your mind? Can you write an essay how you envision the federal state of Eritrea? simply advocating for federalism does make it an argument. can you talk about fiscal decentralization of the federal government, if it is feasible with the “states” in your mind?

      Amanuel Hidrat

  • g michael

    Hi Amanuel,
    I think if this type of discussion included a share of culpability of our predicament to forces of an era long gone – that of colonialism, it would set the atmosphere for discussion on the right course. The transformation from pre to post colonial set the rules on the relatioship of kebesa (the center) to lowlands (hinterland/periphery)
    Italian colonialism determined to reconfigure Eritrea to be amenable to colonial laws, economic and military needs. The colonial government in the 50 years hammered and shaped Eritrea to its needs, as urbanization of the highlands through locating Asmara and connecting it to towns coastal harbors by roads and rail, bringing in settlers from Italy that formed the backbone of the economy with the urbanization in full steam and with a disenfranchised inhabitants at the bottom.
    Connecting Asmara to Dekemhare, Segeneyti, Adi Keyih and Senafe, in Akeleguzai, Asmara to Mendefera and to Adi Quala, in Seraye, and to the numerous villages surrounding Asmara compared to the vast areas of the lowlands created access to a relatively well endowed centers of opportunities for the inhabitants. A lower highrarchy of connecting roads also reinforce this tendency. Connection of Dekemhare to Massawa, to Teraamni, to May Edaga meant access to opportunities at a lower level.
    British and Ethiopian rules reinforced centralization primarily for control.
    The role of the lowlands was largely relegated as source of raw materials and wild life and that of the kebesa with Asmara as its center, was the center of political power that set the rules of governance from the colonial times up to now.
    This is not to deny that there are natural conditions that encourage or discourage urbanization. The kebesa population is relatively compact, homogeneous and dense, while that of the lowlands are different ethnic communities and low density.
    Once urbanization is set in motion, the relative advantage to locate there is hard to resist, be it businesses, manufacturing plants etc. The worst part is there has been no force to change this relationship from British Rule to Federation with Ethiopia and the annexation right down to the current dictatorship. What force on earth could remedy the gap in the relationship between these regions?
    What you are doing through your brilliant analysis and proposal is trying to foster a discussion about issues that are crucial for our survival as a nation.
    Thank you Amanuel and Awate

    • Amanuel Hidrat

      Dear g.michael,

      Thank you for your feed back. I hope we will focus into solution oriented debate.


  • T..T.

    Hi all,

    Despite the many overlapping advantages and disadvantages in implemented federalism and decentralism, it is noted that the federalism’s deeper fragmentation has better outcome in state and individual freedom. Although it depends on how the constitution defines the individual freedom, decentralism may grant loopholes to grant spaces for corruptions.

    There may be some in East Africa, who say that the two types of governances are related. That view to many practitioners is just a mere coincidence. For Eritreans, the two types as implemented in Sudan and Ethiopia are every day stage theatres to learn from.

    The decentralized Sudan fragmented the central government’s allowing the States (say, Kassela) to issue decrees that bypass the central government’s control. As a result, Sudan is weakened by compromises (direct negotiation between Kassela and Asmara) to accommodate foreign country or governments influences. Thus, the power fragmentation in Sudan under decentralization governance appears to have been driven by necessity to serve the needs of some wealthy and powerful groups. It is not by coincidence that such corporations are absent in Federal Ethiopia.