Keynote address by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Day in Mekelle (December 9, 2011)
Honourable Girma Wolde-Giorgis, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,
Distinguished federal and regional government officials,
Distinguished diplomatic corps and parliamentary delegation from friendly countries,
Religious leaders, elderly people, and invited guests
Cultural delegations of nations, nationalities and peoples
Residents of Mekelle town and its surroundings
From the outset, I would, on behalf of the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and on my behalf, like to congratulate you on the anniversary celebrations of the 6th Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day.
This historic day that we are gathered here to commemorate marks the adoption of the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia which guarantees the rights of nations and nationalities, and of the democratic and human rights our citizens. The constitution is a key instrument that embraces our diversity through the federal arrangement. We also commemorate the popular bitter struggle and the huge sacrifices made by the true sons and daughter of Ethiopia to lay a strong foundation for democratic system to thrive on, upon which the task of nurturing participatory political culture on the basis of democratic principles was carried out; wherein nations and nationalities had extensively discussed on the draft constitution, before they adopted it through their representatives.
The 1995 Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia established a federal democratic republic declaring an end to the infamous civil wars, bloodshed and turmoil we had passed through.
The political upheavals and instability that our country experienced, which emanated from years of political struggles from pluralism, justice and respect of fundamental democratic and human rights, were culminated by the unity of our peoples in May 1991. And this has brought about a major political scene that is accommodating and inclusive, proclaiming that Ethiopia is a diverse multinational federal state embracing nations, nationalities and people with full recognitions and enjoyment of fundamental democratic and human rights. So we are in a new political system that has effectively resolved decades of political crisis and rolling back, and paved the way for intensified development undertakings that we are witnessing.
Fears of destabilization and disintegration viewed as a result of the constitution order and federal arrangement have remained illusion. Claims of nations and nationalities on matters of religion and on other contending issue were effectively addressed by the constitutional frameworks. This is evidenced in the fact that the country is internally more stable and it plays tremendous role in regional stability.
The constitution, founded on firm basis, has embraced our diversity. This has played greater roles in strengthening our unity for enhanced development endeavors at national and local levels. And this has enabled us overcome past political legacies, change the course and gather momentum to leapfrog our development activities with all our resources, attention and strength. The implementation of sound policies and strategies has brought about enormous development undertakings with the active participation of our people and from which every citizen is benefiting according to their sweat.
All in all, our constitution has fostered peaceful coexistence and harmony, cooperation and respect. Our commitment for accommodating our diversity established on solid basis has been the prime factor promoting us not only to uphold peace and good governance but also to become a developmental state.
We have tried to enrich our policies and strategies by incorporating best practices from countries who have registered development achievements over the last ten year in view of our unique circumstances. We have a strong developmental state which has been successful in producing large army of developmental forces which we have mobilized throughout the country. This pro-developmental line that we have followed over the years has been very successful for we have registered fast economic growth for eight years in a row. Hence, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There is a ray of hope for our renaissance endeavor. In the same extent the constitutional order has provided conducive situation and stimulation for our development undertakings, the fast economic growth we have registered has also consolidated the constitutional order and the democratization processes. The constitutional order and the developmental path are the twin instruments that have kindled our inspirations for the successes made thus far towards the renaissance that we are gathered here to celebrate and commemorate the historic day marking the adoption of our constitution.
Paving the way for establishing strong basis for drafting and adopting a constitution in democratic manner is the outcome of a bitter struggle lasted for many decades. Complex struggle have been waged and huge sacrifices have also been made to fully implement and protect the Constitution. This task of respecting and defending the constitution is not over. Many were desperate to endure all the difficulties that we had encountered. And they gave up their fight. The victory was sustained through greater endurance and conviction. So, this historic day of shining victory is the outcome of extraordinary conviction, commitment and perseverance we demonstrated throughout the times of all the difficulties for the noble causes. The day we celebrated today is a vivid manifestation for the endurance we have shown and for extraordinary conviction we demonstrated for our causes we stand for.
By the same token, the line that we have envisaged towards the renaissance is not just a noble idea but it also presents us daunting challenges. The fact that facing this challenge requires us conviction for the causes we stand for is not just what we can draw from our past experiences but also from the experiences of few countries which have defeated poverty, registered fast economic growth and joined bloc of developed nations. What we can learn from this is that defeating poverty is possible just by registering fast economic growth for several decades in a row requires hard working, devotion, and commitment for development undertakings, directing the focus on lasting solution by overcoming temporary challenges facing us in our endeavors. Investors must also abandon the shortcut for wealth accumulation through rent-seeking practices, in contrast they have to accumulate wealth through the hardest way, by embarking on development projects that will benefit themselves, the people at large and the country. And it is possible to note the stance of the government towards achieving this vision where it remains firm, without being overtaken by temporary obstacles, to spearhead the implementation of its policies and strategies geared towards the long-term benefit for our people. We are confident that as we stood firm for out causes for the processes of establishing a constitutional state, we will remain so to realize Ethiopia’s Renaissance.
Today, we will renew our commitment to putting an end to the major challenges of good governance endeavors through eliminating the root causes of rent-seeking practices that befell our people. In doing so, we will reaffirm our conviction to step up the fight for the causes we stand for. To this effect, we will be determined to learn from our mistakes, scale up the best practices in a bid to change the prevailing rent-seeking practices that the private sector has been indulged in through facilitating conditions for the majority of the private sector change the course, embark on developmental undertakings and be on board on the move we have started towards the renaissance. This is what the government envisages for the befit of the entire public, the private sector and the country in just about two or so decades. We will also renew our pledge to strengthen our effort and work day and night for more job creation and curb temporary inflationary pressure through the frameworks we have put to achieve the vision for Ethiopia’s Renaissance. And finally, I call upon the entire Ethiopian people to intensify the fight for Ethiopian Renaissance, in a similar conviction and commitment that it had demonstrated in a bitter struggle for establishing a constitutional order.
I thank you
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