Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate is deeply disappointed by the head of government Abiy Ahmed, who has been in office since 2018. (Photo: imago stock&people)

Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate is deeply disappointed by the head of government who has been in office since 2018: "He has only deceived us all.".

All Ethiopian politics is ethnic, almost all political parties are ethnic. Abiy Ahmed wants "the death of Ethiopia and a new Oromian Republic".

Even the unity of the traditional Ethiopian Orthodox Church is now threatened. The head of government declared war on the church, "because he knows that the Crown and the Church were the two pillars of the country's unity. After the fall of the Crown, the Church has remained the only non-ethnic institution of the unity of Ethiopia,” said Asserate. Abiy is trying to influence the church "to overthrow the current patriarch and let an Oromo appoint an Oromo as patriarch".

Asfa-Wossen Asserate, a great-needle of the last Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, says he can no longer afford a political neutrality: “I have not listened to any political party throughout my life. The current government has adopted the policy of ethnic cleansing of the Amra and watched idly by what tens of thousands of homage were killed and driven out of regions where they have lived for four generations. “I can’t watch it uninvolved and neutral. That is why I am a unwanted person for the second time in my life in Ethiopia!” says the Imperial Prince of Ethiopia.

(PDF format: To read full interview translated to English)


Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has declared war on the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and is deliberately destroying the unity of the country, says Imperial Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate

BY Stephan Baier

Your Highness, when the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed Ali, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, you were rather hopeful and confident. Did you misjudge him? I was not only happy at the time but was convinced that the dark period we had endured since 1974 was over. We welcomed him like a prophet. The Ethiopian people, who had been in a horrific situation for more than 30 years due to wars and ethnic strife, felt saved because this man spoke of God again. When he came to Frankfurt, 20,000 people from all over Europe traveled to cheer him. He promised us a new constitution and a new economic policy. And above all, he spoke of reconciliation!

But the exact opposite happened. Exactly! We believed he would stand for the territorial integrity and national unity of Ethiopia. Then a great war with terrible massacres broke out. The Prime Minister pitted the two major ethnic groups of the country, the Tigray and the Amhara, against each other, leading to their mutual destruction. Half a million people on each side died until the fratricidal war ended in November 2023. The consequences of the war are catastrophic. However, in the peace negotiations, the Amhara, who had significantly contributed to the government's victory over the Tigray rebellion, were excluded and have been persecuted ever since.

Does the head of government pursue an ethnic agenda? Yes, it is now completely clear: he deceived us all! For three decades, Ethiopia has been the only state in the world that calls itself an "ethnic federation." The entire politics is ethnically driven. Almost all political parties are ethnic parties. There is perhaps no other country in Africa, except Egypt, that can claim to have been a nation for centuries like Ethiopia. Ironically, Ethiopia, which has done so much for decolonization and the unity of Africa, has made ethnicity the basis of politics since 1995. Only one country did that before, and that was South Africa during apartheid. This has led to Ethiopia's raison d'état "unity in diversity – and diversity in unity!" losing its meaning. Instead, it is now only about the hegemonic position of the respective ethnic group.

After all the centuries of Ethiopian statehood, is there no longer a sense of belonging among the people of the country today? Today we have a population of 120 million people in Ethiopia; 85 percent of them are under 25 years old. They have experienced nothing but this ethnic politics. They were always told that they were victims of others. The Amhara, who are now being attacked and accused of oppressing others, were one of the founding peoples of the state and always put the common good first. The FANO, often referred to as an Amhara militia, is a real popular uprising with two million people under arms, primarily seeking to stop the slaughter of Amhara and restore the country's sovereignty. Despite the state having an air force and tanks, the central government cannot control the Amhara region due to the FANO resistance.

Is Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed aiming for Oromo dominance in the state, or is he accepting the disintegration of Ethiopia? Ultimately, he wants the death of Ethiopia and a new Oromo republic. A new state "Oromia" is to emerge from the disintegration of the state. The Oromization has long begun. It is portrayed as if the Oromo have always been the oppressed. Much can be accused of Emperor Haile Selassie, but it is a lie that he made distinctions between ethnicities. The emperor did not care about ethnic affiliation, only about loyalty. Abiy's policy is against the Amhara and the Church. In the last seven months alone, 12,000 youths were arrested just because they are Amhara.

What role does the majority church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which has always been a factor of unity, play here? This church is very threatened because the battle between the state and the church has long begun. Abiy is also a chameleon in religious matters: no one knows what he really believes. When he goes to his friends in Abu Dhabi, he presents himself as a Muslim. But when he goes to the Americans, he says he is evangelical. He has declared war on the Ethiopian Orthodox Church because he knows that the crown and the church were the two pillars of the country's unity. After the fall of the crown, the church remained the only non-ethnic institution of Ethiopia's unity. So Abiy tries to influence the church to overthrow the patriarch and appoint an Oromo as patriarch. Already, church persecution is emerging: churches are being vandalized, monks are being tortured and murdered. This is the work of the government! Even archbishops working in America were denied entry and thus participation in the synod. One must also ask why the Americans, who brought Abiy to power, allow all this. Ethnicization is even taking place within the church because some allow themselves to be bought by the government. Evangelicals are gaining importance because many Oromo are evangelical. The name Oromia was coined in the 19th century by Protestant German missionaries. When I left Ethiopia for studies in 1968, I remember a newspaper headline saying: “As it is known, there are about 20.00 Evangelical Christians living in the Ethiopian Empire!” Today, there are 12.5 million believers of that denomination. Not even one percent of them were previously pagans or Muslims, but they have been poached from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. With a lot of money, the evangelicals are building huge palaces.

Do you expect the fighting to escalate again? Yes, because not only the Amhara are unhappy. There are even Oromo groups that are against the Prime Minister. The man who received the Nobel Prize for making peace with Eritrea has now made it clear a few days ago that he is supporting an opposition group in Eritrea to overthrow the regime in Asmara. To stay in power, he would have to conduct talks, but he has no intention of doing so. Therefore, it continues to escalate. Our European friends only see a poor country that hasn't been able to stand on its feet for 50 years. The economic situation is catastrophic not only in the war zones. A large part of the population in Tigray is dependent on food deliveries from outside. Because of the ongoing wars, farmers have neither sown nor harvested. The inflation rate is effectively over 65 percent.

How do the African neighbors react to this development? Very nervously, because they know that what is happening in Ethiopia today can be repeated in their countries tomorrow. There is not a single African state that is ethnically homogeneous. For this reason, the old colonial borders, which were drawn with a ruler in London or Paris, were never touched after decolonization because the African leaders knew very well that tribalism would be the greatest threat to the unity of the new African states. If Ethiopia falls apart, there will be dozens of African countries where civil wars will rage within a year. Unfortunately, behind every secessionist war in Africa, there has so far been a Western country.

Who is behind it in the case of Ethiopia today? The Kissinger Doctrine of 1968 was very clear: the Ethiopians are uncontrollable, so first the crown must fall, then the Orthodox Church, and then the ethnicities must be divided. Nothing has changed in all these years! The Americans should now abandon this doctrine and finally work for the establishment of a just and democratic Ethiopia.

About 30 percent of Ethiopia's population is Muslim. How do they react to the current changes? If a religious conflict had been added to the ethnic clashes, Ethiopia would no longer exist. Our Ethiopian Muslims are 90 percent the greatest patriots we have. But of course, Abiy tries to bring the ethnic issues into the Islamic community as well, just as he does with the church. Two years ago, he dismissed a very popular president of the "Majlis" from the Amhara region and replaced him with an Oromo. Today, most Muslims reject the leader because he is accused of being a Wahhabi.

As the heir of the imperial dynasty and Ethiopian tradition, where do you place your hope? I have never belonged to any political party in my life. But I can no longer afford this privilege. For more than seven months, I have dedicated myself to the Amhara movement and am its diplomatic representative for Europe. Unfortunately, I had to realize that the current government has adopted a policy of ethnic cleansing of the Amhara and has watched tens of thousands of Amhara being killed and expelled from regions where they have lived for four generations. I cannot stand by idly and neutrally.

That's why I am now probably an undesirable person in Ethiopia for the second time in my life!


Note: Translated to English from original posting in German Language

Source: Die-Tagespost BY Stephan Baier - (Original Posting in German Language)




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