Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Authoritarian Executive, the Rubber-Stamp Parliament, and Delegations of Powers in Ethiopia

Alemayehu Fentaw

The Nondelegation Principle

The doctrine of nondelegation is explicit or implicit in all written constitutions that impose a structural separation of powers. It is usually applied in questions of constitutionally improper delegations of legislative powers to the executive. In 1690, John Locke (1632-1704), one of the most influential political philosophers of the modern period, wrote that legislators “can have no power to transfer their authority of making laws and place it in other hands.” According to John Locke, “The legislative is … sacred and unalterable in the hands where the community have once placed it; nor can any edict of anybody else, in what form soever conceived, or by that power soever backed, have the force and obligation of a law…” Furthermore, “[t]he legislative power cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands; for it being but a delegated power from the people, they who have it cannot pass it over to others…nor can the people be bound by any laws but such as are enacted by those whom they have chosen and authorized to make laws for them…the legislative neither must nor can transfer the power of making laws to anybody else, or place it anywhere but where the people have.”A century later, in 1789, the US federal Constitution provided that “all legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” A little more than a hundred years later, in 1892, the Supreme Court declared in Field v. Clark: “That Congress cannot delegate legislative power to the President is a principle universally recognized as vital to the integrity and maintenance of the system of government ordained by the Constitution.”

James Madison compared the delegation problem to the power of creating executive offices. Madison argued that the Constitution “has not only given the Legislature the power of creating offices, but it expressly restrains the Executive from appointing officers, except such as are provided by law….the President is invested with the power of filling those offices; does it follow that we are to delegate to him the power to create them?

Madison’s comparison suggests that another factor in weighing delegation problems may be the number of new offices or positions that the statute gives the executive power to create.

Nevertheless, in 1989, nearly a century after Field v. Clark, the Supreme Court in Mistretta v. United States upheld an essentially unconstrained grant of power enabling an administrative agency to set guidelines for federal criminal sentences, offering the stark observation that “our jurisprudence has been driven by a practical understanding that in our increasingly complex society, replete with ever changing and more technical problems, Congress simply cannot do its job absent an ability to delegate power under broad general directives.”

Many an architect of the modern administrative state was full well aware of the constitutional implications of their handiwork. A case in point is James Landis, who contended in 1938 that the administrative state “springs from the inadequacy of a simple tripartite form of government to deal with modern problems.” For Landis, modern government “vests the necessary powers with the administrative authority it creates, not too greatly concerned with the extent to which such action does violence to the traditional tripartite theory of governmental organization.” Put differently, if the needs of a modern bureaucracy come into conflict with the Constitution, too bad for the Constitution.

My aim in this paper is two-fold. First, I aim to establish that the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, like its counterpart in the United States, prohibits the kind of delegation of legislative authority that took place in Ethiopia a few days ago. Second, I aim to establish that the House of Federation, which is vested with the final say on the issue of un/constitutionality of legislations in Ethiopia, is capable of identifying unconstitutional delegations if it puts its mind to the task.

The Nondelegation Principle under the FDRE Constitution

The constitutional principle of separation of powers underlies the current Ethiopian federal system of government. The FDRE Constitution contains many provisions that deal with the separation of powers. The Constitution vests legislative, executive, and judicial powers in three distinct institutions. To keep parliament’s legislative power separate from the executive and judicial branches of government, the Constitution limits parliamentary delegation of legislative power to the other branches of government. It contains provisions about such matters as the formalities of legislation, the making of treaties, the appointment of unelected government officials, and the accountability of the executive. But there is no provision that expressly forbids the delegation of legislative power like the US Constitution. The U.S. Constitution does not address the issue directly. The main constitutional provision cited in

support of the nondelegation doctrine reads simply, “All legislative Powers granted herein shall be vested in a Congress.” Commenting on the US Constitution, Gary Lawson wrote “The absence of such a provision is often taken as an argument against a strong nondelegation principle; even some of the nondelegation doctrine’s most articulate champions seem bothered by the absence of a nondelegation provision. But the search for a nondelegation clause is fundamentally misguided because the federal government is a government of limited and enumerated powers. Therefore, the proper question to pose is whether the Constitution affirmatively grants power to a particular institution of the federal government to perform the act under consideration.” In the same manner as the US Constitution, Art.55(1) of the FDRE Constitution provides that “The House of Peoples' Representatives shall have the power of legislation in all matters assigned by this Constitution to Federal jurisdiction.” Besides, Art. 50(3) stipulates that “The House of Peoples' Representatives is the highest authority of the Federal Government. The House is responsible to the People.”

Furthermore, Art.76(3) provides that “In all its decisions, the Council of Ministers is responsible to the House of Peoples' Representatives.” The only Constitutional provision that may arguably interpreted as granting to the Executive the power to legislate on the organization of the Executive is Art. 77(2). It reads: “It shall decide on the organizational structure of ministries and other organs of government responsible to it; it shall coordinate their activities and provide leadership.” Even this Article does not say that the Executive has the power to enact a law on the matter. It only states that the Executive has the power to “decide” on the issue under consideration. This does only mean that it has to submit its decision for reorganization or whatever of the structure of the ministries and other organs of government to the House for approval.

By virtue of the principle of enumerated powers, any action by the Executive (the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister) must fall within a grant of power to the Executive in the Constitution. The Constitution grants to the Executive a number of specific powers. The opening provision of Art.72 provides: “The highest executive powers of the Federal Government are vested in the Prime Minister and in the Council of Ministers.” One problem that figures in prominently in connection with this provision has to do with the definition of the term “executive power.” What exactly does it mean to have executive power? The Constitution identifies three distinct governmental powers- legislative, executive, and judicial-but never defines them or their respective boundaries. The absence of a precise definition does not mean that there are no boundaries between the three governmental powers. The Constitution clearly assumes the existence of such boundaries by vesting different powers in the different institutions. And as was pointed out by Madison in The Federalist, he did not consider the problem of drawing boundaries as a reason to avoid the task altogether.

Although the precise frontiers of the executive still remain blurred, we can say with some confidence that the essence of the executive power is carrying into effect – executing, if you will – the laws of the nation. The Constitution grants the Council of Ministers the power to execute the laws but not to enact a law. So, the problem is defining where execution ends and enactment begins. Execution is not a mechanical task. The meaning of “executive power” is broad enough to include some measure of rulemaking discretion, even some measure of interpretative discretion.

The next problem is to consider the issue of whether there are limits on what parliament may delegate. The principle of enumerated powers serves as a blanket ban on unilateral acts by the Executive without parliamentary authorization. What if parliament grants such authorization? Is there a limit to the authority that parliament can properly vest in the Executive by legislation? This constitutes the heart of the matter, i.e. the nondelegation problem.

The Rubber-Stamp Parliament and Delegation of Powers

In the first week of its fourth year, the House of Peoples’ Representatives has enacted a new legislation that authorizes the Council of Ministers to decide the fate of federal executive organs. The House voted the passage of the bill with 269 votes in favor, 68 against and one abstaining. As per the new law, the Council from now on, can establish, reorganize, merge, divide and even close down federal executive organs such as Ministries when it finds it necessary. The law also gives the Council power to change any executive organ’s accountability. By virtue of this proclamation, the Executive secured unlimited legislative powers to reorganize federal executive organs.

According to the new law amending the Definition of Powers and Duties of the Executive Organs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Proclamation No.471/2005, the Council of Ministers will now have the final say on matters regarding dissolution, establishment, or reorganization all federal executive organs in the country without parliament exerting any form of supervision or approval.

The EPRDF-dominated rubber-stamp parliament violated the Constitution by endorsing a prima facie unconstitutional bill that was initiated and masterfully drafted by the Executive on First Reading despite strong objections by parliamentarians from the so-called loyal Political Opposition. Of course, ironically enough, this newly enacted amendatory legislation could not have been passed without Constitutional amendment, even so at the risk of setting aside, ad infinitum, the Constitution and the democratic principles of separation of powers and non-delegation of powers enshrined therein. The ratio legis behind this piece of legislation is nothing but "entrench[ing] the dictatorial power of EPRDF,” as was rightly observed by Bulcha Demekssa.

In an all-too-embarrasing argument that backfires, albeit meant to defend the passage of the Bill, at himself, Berhanu Adole, Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, told the House “If it is not to exaggerate the essence of the article, it doesn’t introduce as a new procedure as it is already stipulated in the Constitution that the ruling party may restructure the executive organs.” He went on to say that “the practice isn’t a new one, it was the same during Emperor Haile Selassie period where the Emperor reorganizes the organs by issuing regulations. The Emperor did not take a historic blame and neither will we, nor do governments of many other nations.” If the self-same provision has already been in the Constitution, how does the introduction of this legal rule into the new proclamation improve its legal quality as the proclamation is only inferior to the Constitution? What Adelo failed to understand, and does not seem to get it in a million years, is that the House is different from the ruling party in principle, though it is undeniably dominated by EPRDF. The equation does not hold. The mere fact that EPRDF has the majority seats in the House does not entitle EPRDF-dominated House to give away legislative powers falling within its proper province to the Executive. The Constitutional provision he was alluding to is Art. 56 that stipulates “A political party or a coalition of political parties that has the greatest number of seats in the House of Peoples' Representatives shall form the Executive and lead it,” which is irrelevant to the issue at stake. Furthermore, what strikes me as odd is his comparison of the current practice with that of the Imperial regime of HIH Emperor Haile Selassie. This is so much revealing, as he interestingly and unawares divulgates the imperious project, common to the Emperor and EPRDF, of taking away and consolidating all governmental powers into their own hands.

To show that there has not been any doubt or ambiguity as the regards the issue of whose power it is to enact such legislation, it suffices to quote the closing clause from the Preamble of all of the four amendatory proclamations, which reads: “NOW, THEREFORE, in accordance with Article 55 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, it is hereby proclaimed as follows.” Therefore, the issue flies in the face of the above clause from the preamble. What remains now is to unmask the motives and this can be done more efficiently by raising the following questions than by answering. Why introduce a change now? If it properly belonged to the Executive, why did it fail to exercise it until this time around? Why not without enacting a law? Why not claim it back by submitting it before the House of Federation for Constitutional interpretation?

The passage of this bill is simply against the two well-established constitutional principles delegata potestas non potest delegari -a delegated authority cannot be again delegated, and delegatus non potest delegare - a delegate or deputy cannot appoint another, whatever the motives.

The writer, Alemayehu W. Fentaw, was teaching law at Jimma University Faculty of Law and, currently, is an Advanced MA Candidate in Peace and Conflict Resolution at the European University Center for Peace Studies, Stadtschlaining, Austria. For comments, he can be reached at

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ethiopia: Legislature cede power to the executive

On its first act of legislation during its current term, the House of Peoples’ Representatives on Thursday ceded a big chunk of power it used to exercise to the Council of Ministers. Parliament, which was opened after its summer recess on Monday afternoon with the president of the republic addressing the joint session of the House and the House of the Federation, convened on Tuesday morning to pass a Motion of Thanks on the president’s speech.

However, to the surprise of many opposition MPs, on Thursday morning, it debated on the legislation to grant the executive branch more powers at its own expense.

On Thursday morning, the executive branch of the federal government secured, in the opinion of some, “an unlimited legislative power” to reorganize federal executive organs.

According to the new law amending the Definition of Powers and Duties of the Executive Organs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Proclamation No.471/2005, the Council of Ministers will now have all the say when it comes to dissolving, establishing or reorganizing all federal executive organs in the country without parliament exerting any form of supervision or approval.

The amendment provides that the Council of Ministers is empowered, where it finds it necessary, to reorganize the federal executive organs by issuing regulations for the closure, merger or division of an existing executive organ or for change of its accountability or for the establishment of a new one.

Opposition MPs strongly opposed the move to cede over parliament’s power to the executive branch.

Some MPs said that the way the bill was introduced to parliament did not follow the correct procedure in the first place.

Most of the articles in the proclamation deal with the setting up of a new Science and Technology Ministry along with explanatory notes on the need to set up the new ministry.

It is in the last part of the proclamation that, the controversial article was inserted.

Ledetu Ayalew, Chairman of the Ethiopian Democratic Unity Party (EDUP-Medhin), said that the new legislation has a serious constitutional implication.

“The constitution provides for checks and balances between the three pillars of government. And without doubt, parliament is relieved of at least 50 percent of its powers. There should have been public debate before a decision was passed,” Lidetu said.

He said that surrendering parliament’s power was a mistake of historical proportion, adding it was sad and unprecedented that the legislature did that of its own free will.

Temesgen Zewdie, deputy chairperson of the Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), said that the move showed the executive organ’s intention to control the country’s institutions although the constitution stipulates that there should be checks and balances in the government.

The same sentiment was echoed by Bulcha Demeksa, chairman of the Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM), and Gebru Gebremariam, parliamentary whip of the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF).

“The legislation we are discussing today is intended to entrench the dictatorial power of EPRDF (the ruling party),” Bulcha said.

Gebru entreated MPs not to pass the legislation. “The executive organ will have an unlimited power. Please don’t vote for it. We will be judged by history,” Gebru pleaded.

A legal expert said, on condition of anonymity, that the new legislation was intended to legitimize the government’s poor record in reorganizing institutions.

“The government says that it came up with this proposal in order to efficiently implement the Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) of state institutions under way without the cumbersome and time consuming process of going through parliament,” the expert says.

“But” he continued, “the many attempts by government at reorganizing institutions so far has failed to bring results. And this bill is no more than legitimizing its past inefficiencies on reorganizing the institutions and implementing the BPR.”

The expert said that the legislature also violated the constitution when it handed over its powers to other organs.

“Parliament can not surrender or cede its legislative powers to a third party as that power of delegation is given it to it by the people,” he argued.

“In effect, parliament violated the doctrine of non-delegation,” the expert added.

By Bruck Shewareged

The Reporter

Friday, October 10, 2008


Alemayehu Fentaw was Fellow of Session 455, "Peace-Making and Peace-Building: Securing the Contributions of Women and Civil Society," which was organized by the Salzburg Global Seminar from 7-12 September 2008, at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria. Below is the full-text of the recommendations made by the participants with a view to securing equal contributions of women and civil society in peace processes.





The Salzburg Global Seminar, in collaboration with the Initiative for Inclusive Security, gathered more than 60 leading thinkers from policy, practice and research to identify actions to be taken by key stakeholders to enact inclusive peace-building processes. The participants, from more than 30 countries, representing the UN system, additional
multilateral institutions, non-governmental organizations, academia and the private sector
met to identify critical gaps in policy and implementation related to the full and equal
participation of women and civil society in peace processes and to articulate strategies to
close those gaps.

Participants examined progress in implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution (SCR) 1325 and in securing the contributions of civil society as a whole in peace building processes. They recognized that parties to the resolution have depended for too long on “calls to action”, many of which have been ignored, without sufficient attention to “action itself”.

Many of the recommendations are, therefore, focused on how all the actors, from the highest levels of the United Nations to the grassroots, can design and implement concrete mechanisms and actions to give life to SCR 1325 and related resolutions. Recommendations are aimed at the UN system and other key international organizations; at governments, whether donors or countries affected by crisis, or in their capacity as member states of the UN; at non-governmental organizations, both local and international, working individually or in networks as well as other non-governmental entities such as media and the private sector. The recommendations are also relevant to conflict prevention.

As a concerned and engaged stakeholder, we urge you to review the recommendations and
help put them into action.

General Recommendations to all Parties:

1. Adopt the 40-40 approach, under which men and women are guaranteed a minimum of 40 percent representation in all peace making and peace building decision-making fora.

2. Activate and update data banks of qualified women for senior decision-making posts
and professional specialties related to peace processes, including peace accord implementation.

3. Draw on civil society expertise on the conflict and/or country(ies) in question during peace processes and when seeking to prevent conflict.To the United Nations System:

To the UN Security Council, UN Secretary General, and Heads of Operational


1. Include in the next “Report of the Secretary General on Women, Peace, and Security”,
proposals for specific mechanisms, including financing, to ensure full implementation of
the recommendations of SCR 1325 and SCR 1820, and the putting in place of national action plans and compliance from governments. Following receipt of the next “Report of the Secretary General on Women, Peace, and Security”, issue a follow-on resolution to SCR1325, comparable to SCRs 1379 and 1612 on Children and Armed Conflict, which provide mechanisms for follow-up, funding, and the option of sanctions.

To Member States:

2. Provide greater numbers of female troops and police, including commanders. Troop
contributing countries must train their troops prior to deployment to prevent proliferation
of sexual exploitation and abuse, and promote understanding of SCR 1325.

To the UN Secretary General, Heads of Operational Departments, and Member States:

3. Implement the recommendation of SCR 1325 to appoint women Special Representatives
to the Secretary General and special envoys and continue to appoint senior women to UN
Secretariat positions and to senior peace and security positions. Establish quotas for balanced representation of women in UN-mediated negotiations and peace-making processes.

4. Consider the needs of women associated with armed groups while designing, planning,
and implementing UN-supervised disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration
programs, including recognition of their positions in armed groups, their need for training,
including nontraditional training, and their special reintegration needs.

To National Governments, Non-Governmental Organizations, and Inter-Governmental Organizations:

1. Develop national action plans or similar strategies for implementation of SCR 1325 that
identify activities, timelines, and benchmarks involving all levels of government and all
sectors of society.

2. Increase the number of women professionals in ministries and security institutions
through targeted recruitment, and feeder programs consistent with the 40-40 approach.

3. Create formal venues for linking government, civil society, and women’s organizations,
particularly building on existing professional associations in order to increase inter-sector dialogue.

4. Provide to local women’s organisations and their partners adequate human and financial
resources to ensure full implementation of 1325 and hold them accountable for results.

Donor funding of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) and security and concerns. Create facilities and conditions that enable both women and men to participate in peace operations, including the implementation of codes and conduct and oversight mechanisms.

To Non-Governmental Organizations, Corporations, Academia, and Media Organizations:

1. Engage in coalition building. Local non-governmental organizations should reach out
to relevant partners, including media, private sector, trade unions, and political parties.

2. Initiate the creation of a contextually-appropriate group that will assist in decision making for progressive actions in the community. Local actors might approach or establish a neutral and respected “council of elders” to support and assist women’s organizations as well as other civil society organizations and their partners in peace making, peacekeeping,and peace building.

3. Support and fund local initiatives of existing civil society organizations and women’s
groups to develop women’s charters and other tools pre-negotiations, during the conflict,
throughout the peace process, and post-conflict.

4. Establish and promote economic reintegration programs to the benefit of women,
including micro-finance, which supports refugees, returnees, those who stayed behind, ex-combatants, service providers, and all families and others affected by conflict.

Note: The above stated recommendations are the result of multiple days of debate and discussion concerning many complex and nuanced issues. A report from the program, Peace-making and Peace-building: Securing the Contributions of Women and Civil Society, held September 7 – 12, 2008 in Salzburg, Austria, providing additional context, provocative ideas and more complete description of key points will be disseminated and made available through the organizing institutions web sites (indicated below).

The Salzburg Global Seminar is a unique international institution, a place dedicated to candid dialogue, fresh thinking and the search for solutions to global issues. Founded in 1947, the
organization has brought more than 25,000 participants from 150 countries and regions to its
programs. The Salzburg Global Seminar challenges current and future leaders to develop creative ideas for solving global problems. It is an institution focused on global change – a place where innovative ideas lead to practical solutions.

The Initiative for Inclusive Security advocates for the full participation of all stakeholders,
especially women, in peace processes. Since 1999, Inclusive Security has connected more than
800 women experts with over 5,000 policy shapers to collaborate on fresh, workable solutions to long-standing conflicts across the globe.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ethiopia: Assault on academic freedom corners young family

Editor's note - Before he left for Austria on a scholarship, Alemayehu Fentaw was a lecturer at the Law Faculty of Jimma University. A few days prior to his departure, Alemayehu was interviewed by the Reporter newspaper on such issues, among other things, like federalism, regional governments, multi-party democracy. While elaborating, Alemayehu said that opposition parties may never seize power in Ethiopia unless the army stages a coup and removes the regime. The Reporter made that remark the headline of the story. Trouble began to haunt Mr. Alemayehu and family.
His wife and a baby were supposed to survive on Alemayehu's salary. When she couldn't receive a penny for five months, the young mother travelled to Addis and became dependent on her poor grandmother. The fight for survival continued for eight months by which time the academic vice president had taken a series of measures that stripped Alemayehu of even his right to get a job at any higher learning institution in the country. Because of this injustice, the dean of the university, a Nigerian national, submitted his resignation, and left. From Austria, the young scholar sent the following letter about the assault he and his family suffered because his words didn't fall in line with the policies of the one-man dictatorship that has been in power since 1991, and has turned Ethiopia into a failed state.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Ethiopia: The Assault on Academic Freedom Continued

Alemayehu Fentaw
I had been teaching law at the Law Faculty of Jimma University for two years and half until I was given a scholarship and a study leave from Jimma University, Ethiopia to pursue my Advanced MA in Peace and Conflict Resolution at the European University for Peace Studies in Austria. However, Jimma University has grossly failed to discharge its obligations from the moment I set foot in Europe, as it refused to pay out my salary to my family, albeit, I on my part, have discharged my duties. I have returned everything that belongs to the University and have also submitted student grades. The Academic Vice President of Jimma University, however, refused to sign on my clearance sheets, though all the rest officials of the University have signed on them on the alleged ground that there are complaints as regards the grades he submitted by few Law III students. This all happens after I left home and on different occasions I received an e-mail from the then Vice Dean and Dean of the Faculty requesting me to send them the student papers on which I cannot lay hand, as I was already in Europe. I directed them to where they may find exam papers at my home in Addis Ababa. The papers could not be found as my family had already moved from Jimma to Addis Ababa following my departure. I was not given a chance to check my roaster and correct mistakes, if any, unlike the tradition. They did not send me a list of students whose grades have not been reported or whatever their case may be.

In the mean time, my wife went to Jimma to demand payment of my salary to her. The Academic Vice President did not only tell her that she is not going to get any salary, but also that he is going to get cancelled my scholarship. Having exhausted the University administrative hierarchy, my wife filed her complaint with the Ethiopian Institution of Ombudsman, since Jimma University failed to pay her my salary for no reason without any administrative or judicial decision for about five months. Although the University was demanded by telephone to submit a formal explanation, or decision, as to why it withheld my salary, it did not do so. In the mean time, the University Administration , particularly its Academic Vice President indulged himself in the act of intimidating the Faculty Dean and other instructors to make them pass a decision against me and my scholarship. As he more often than not encountered strong resistance and criticism from the Faculty, he resorted to the wanton use of his authority to blackmail the Dean, Barrister Shipi M. Gowok. He asked him to fire me in absentia and cancel my scholarship if he wants to have letters of support to be written for his planned official travel to the USA, for the Jessup Moot Court Competition and to the University of Pretoria. Consequently, the Dean submitted his letter of resignation to the University President and left Ethiopia for good. The Vice President found it easier to dictate his whims to the newly-appointed all-too-young and naive Dean and his newly constituted members of the Academic Commission. In the mean time, the Ethiopian Institution of Ombudsman sent to the University Administration a formal letter demanding any decision on my case within fifteen days, as I also made an online complaint using the website of the Institution. Although, it has already been more than 8 months since my salary has been withheld by JU without any administrative and judicial decision , the University Administration finally sent its decision on my case to the Ethiopian Institution of Ombudsman. As I was told by my wife, the University has decided to dismiss me from my job and has also written a letter to the Ministry of Education requesting it to deny me any future teaching opportunities at any Ethiopian institution of higher learning.

Although the Ethiopian Institution of Ombudsman sent me an e-mail acknowledging receipt of my wife's complaint, it has refused to forward a copy of the decision to me nor to my wife.

In order to grasp the crux of the matter, it is important to look at what The government owned Ethiopian Airlines did to me. Before, I left home, Ethiopian Airlines refused to take me on board after I went through all the check-in process on the alleged ground that I need to have a transit visa to enter Germany, though the Austrian and German embassies in Addis Ababa confirmed to me that the visa issued to me by the Austrian embassy is a valid visa (Schengen Type D) and I need not any transit visa. Even if I talked to the flight supervisors, they insisted on my getting another visa to Germany. The German embassy refused frequently to grant me a transit visa saying that the type of visa I already have is sufficient to warrant me entry into Germany. Finally, after they received a support letter from my Austrian school and after I explained my situation the embassy granted me the transit visa. Even after I went to Ethiopian Airlines after both visas I had to pass through harassment before I flew. As you may know, the Airlines is owned and operated by the Ethiopian government. When I wonder why this all is happening to me, it is because, as was surmised to me by a few well-intentioned staff members of the Airlines and other friends of mine, it is because of my critical attitude towards the government and more particularly because of the interview that The Reporter, an Amharic Weekly, made with me a few weeks prior to my flight. The Interview was taken as seditious and inciting the Army to topple the government down by force. The decision is nothing but an attempt to silence political dissidence as well as an outrageous violation of academic freedom pure and simple.

Please find attached herewith (1) a support letter written for me by the Academic Vice President before the Reporter Interview, (2) the contract I have concluded with Jimma University obliging me to serve the University for two more years upon completion of my graduate studies or to repay the costs in full, (3) The Reporter Interview with me.


Alemayehu Fentaw