No Compromise on sovereignty, national interest

Speaking at a recent mammoth fundraiser dinner held at the National Palace, Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed stressed that any decision that his government makes now and in the future is based on ensuring the sovereignty, national interest and national pride of Ethiopia. Let us try to briefly describe these three concepts that are also incorporated in the Constitution and Foreign Relations and Policy objectives of the country.

In political theory, sovereignty implies an ultimate overseer and authority in the decision-making process of a state and in the maintenance of order and territorial integrity of the country as provided in Article 8 of the Ethiopian Federal Constitution. Derived from the Latin superanus through the French souveraineté, the term was originally understood to mean the equivalent of supreme power.

International political lexicon and academia recognize 5 types of sovereignty including, Titular Sovereignty, internal and external sovereignty, legal and political sovereignty, de jure and de facto sovereignty and popular sovereignty.

Titular sovereign is just only ruler by name, but in reality, is not capable of exercising any effective power. The Queen of Britain, the King of Japan, and the President of India, all of them are examples of Titular sovereignty.

Internal and external sovereignty are important types of sovereignty. Internal sovereignty means the sovereign power of the state by which the state exercises ultimate power over all persons, groups, and institutions within it. The law is the ultimate order of the sovereign within the geographical boundaries of the state. According to this law, the affairs of the state are governed. The state can impose severe punishment on the lawbreaker by calling it an internal sovereign.

External sovereignty refers to the sovereignty of the state by which no foreign state will be attacked by a foreign state. Even if attacked, the affected state will be able to make a complaint to the UNO and seek the help of the UNO, by asserting external sovereignty. That is, the external sovereignty of the state means that the state is free from outside control of the external power or the dynamical state. One state is completely free from the will and control of another state.

Legal sovereignty is the ultimate power of the state by which the state legislates and enforces it. Legal sovereign power is the unrestricted power of the state; no one can disobey it. Britain and India have legal sovereign powers, respectively the British Parliament and the Indian Parliament. This sovereignty is seen as the ultimate power of the legislative body.

The existence of political sovereignty is not public. Generally speaking, the electorate has political sovereignty. The legal sovereign is elected by the political sovereign. The will of the political sovereign transforms itself into a legitimate sovereign law. Influenced by public opinion and public reaction, the legal sovereign takes its decision.

De jure and de facto sovereignty comes from French de Jure to legalism and from De Facto to real sovereignty came two. The difference between the two is this – in the view of the law, the ruler, in fact, the ruler may not be entitled to rule. That is, he may have virtually lost the right to state rule even though the rule of law is approved. The rule of law may not be authorized by law even if the powers of the governing body are occupied in reality or in the workplace.

Popular sovereignty means that sovereignty lies in the hands of the people. The basis of the governing power of the government is public support. The call for the first populist sovereignty was reflected through protests against the monarchy in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Article 8 of the Ethiopian Federal Constitution exhibits popular sovereignty because it states that “all sovereign power resides in the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia.”

Over the last hundred years, Ethiopia had to repulse some 30 wars of external aggression that violated the sovereignty of the country and the people of Ethiopia had to fight off the aggressors to ascertain the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and peace of this country. More recently, terrorist TPLF, in its attempts to destroy Ethiopia had violated the sovereignty of the country from within while some countries in the western hemisphere time and again violated the sovereignty of this country by meddling into the internal affairs of Ethiopia and by conducting propaganda war on the nation. Even the UNSC held 12 sessions on issues that directly fall in the competence and sovereignty of the country.

The sovereignty of the Ethiopian state is directly linked to ascertaining the national interest of the country. Conceptually, there are two aspects to the meaning of national interest.

According to Charles Lerche and Abdul, national interest implies: “The general, long term and continuing purpose which the state, the nation, and the government all see themselves as serving.”

Moreover, According to Brookings Institute national interest is “What a nation feels to be necessary to its security and wellbeing … National interest reflects the general and continuing ends for which a nation acts.”

Fulfilling the national interest of the country is a cornerstone for the promotion and development of the foreign relations and diplomacy of Ethiopia. The conceptual and practical application of the national interest of this country has been clearly articulated in the Revised Foreign Policy and Diplomacy of Ethiopia.

The national interest of Ethiopia is the interest of the entire people of the country and is linked to ensuring sovereignty and territorial integrity, peaceful development and rooting and positioning the country in its rightful place in global and regional forums. This would also mean the interest of the people in the promotion of its cultural, economic development and gradual reduction of poverty in a rapid manner. Ensuring the livelihood of citizens locally and at the international level and promoting the protection of the legal rights of citizens wherever they are.  Here it is important to consider the necessity of compromises as long as the national interest and sovereignty of the people of Ethiopia are maintained and well served. Some think that the recent political decisions made by the government resulted from external pressure on the government to release prisoners. However, in his speech mentioned earlier, the Prime Minister has stated that such a decision has never resulted from any external pressure but is the outcome of political considerations for promoting peace and reconciliation in the country.

It is to be clear that any decision that is made by the government is made in a democratic process on behalf of the people of Ethiopia. Speculating on unfounded allegations that this is the sole prerogative of the executive section of the government is totally wrong and misleading.

The decision-making system in the Ethiopian government is always based on the principles of democratic discussions and deeper analysis.

The promotion of the national pride of Ethiopia is one of the most important elements of the decision-making process in the deliberations of the Ethiopian government but what exactly is a national pride? In popular parlance, National pride is the positive effect that the public feels towards their country as a result of their national identity. It is both the pride and sense of esteem that a person has for one’s nation and the pride or self-esteem that a person derives from one’s national identity.

The national pride of all Ethiopians encompasses the subjective and objective aspects within which all Ethiopians identify themselves and revere the spiritual and material heritage that has come down to them from one generation to the other in their common history. Ethiopia is one of the founders of the League of Nations and the UN as well as the former OAU and the AU now. The country has a shining history of not being colonized by any country and has in fact contributed to the decolonization of Africa. It is not by mere chance or a slip of a tongue that the present leader of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta described Ethiopia as “the mother of Africa.”

The three elements of the decision-making process of the current Ethiopian federal government also shows that any local decision made here is always in congruence with the international laws and treaties to which Ethiopia is a party.

Major decisions that are made by the federal government is always done with due consultation with the regional states which make up the federal government. These decisions may be strategic or short term decisions but are always linked to and are based on ensuring the sovereignty, national interest and national pride of the people of Ethiopia.

The current internal and external challenges that the country is facing directly affect the sovereignty, national interest and pride of the people and government of this country. The main objectives of the fulfillment of these three elements of the political stature of Ethiopia are also linked to the promotion of democracy, good governance, equity in decision making, gender sensitivity of decisions, the principles of inclusivity.

Current decisions made at the federal level are also based on the balance in the political objectives of the country, the promotion of internal peace and security. Government decisions are now made in the context of a bitter struggle between those who wish to destroy the entire political system in the country and replace it with ethnic-based principalities that could ultimately endanger not only the unity of the country but also regional peace and security and those who strive for unity, peace equitable development, national prosperity of Ethiopia.

The decisions made today will certainly determine the future of this country and the destiny of its citizens.

Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The



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