Ethiopians celebrate 11th Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Day in Harari

Ethiopia, colorfully celebrated the11th Nations, Nationalities and Peoples‟ Day in Harar, capital
of the country‟s smallest killil, and a city commonly referred to a city of love and tolerance.
Ethiopia is, of course, a home to diversity with around 80 nations, nationalities and peoples, each having their own distinct culture, history, language and way of life. They are also brought
together under the umbrella of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Despite all the
problems of history, and a variety of regimes and ideologies, the nations, nationalities and
peoples of Ethiopia with their numerous shared values and norms, have always held their loyalty to their motherland and enthusiastically defended Ethiopia‟s sovereignty against foreign
aggression. Equally, there has been misrule during which some of the peoples have been treated as second class citizens and deprived of equal opportunities within their own country. This led to struggles to create a political system under which their human and democratic rights can be respected, their languages, cultures, identities and history can be freely exercised and their right to selfadministration and self-determination recognized. It was this that drove the near two decades of struggle to depose the military dictatorship of the Derg on May 8, 1991. This victory provided the country‟s first democratic constitution on December 8, 1995, enshrining all basic rights and freedoms. That is the reason to celebrate December 8, the historic day marking the ratification of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, a constitution which formally guarantees the rights and equality of Ethiopia‟s nations, nationalities and peoples.
The day was first celebrated in 1999 EC on the eve of the Ethiopian Millennium in 1999 E.C.
and in the capital Addis Ababa. The House of Federation then decided to celebrate the occasion
yearly each December 8 in order to provide a platform for the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples
of Ethiopia to promote their cultures, histories, lifestyles and other values, creating a common
political and economic community and strengthening their brotherhood under the national spirit
of the motherland. Ethiopia.
This year the scene of the national celebration was the city of Harar, the capital of the
Harari Regional State, and the celebration was held under the theme: “Our Constitution for Our
Democratic Unity and Renaissance!” Thousands of people representing all then nations,
nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia were present at the celebration in Awabadir Stadium, in
Harar. The ceremonies were attended by President Dr. Mulatu Teshome, Prime Minister
Hailemariam Dessalegn and First Lady Roman Tesfaye, as well as the Speaker of the House of
Federation, Yalew Abate, and other high-ranking government officials, and members of the
diplomatic corps. The celebration was also honored by the presence of the President of Sudan,
Omar Hassen al-Bashir and of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh.
Prime Minister Hailemariam spoke of the ancient civilization of Ethiopia, its glorious history and
the diversity to which all the nations, nationalities and peoples have contributed their share.
Although deprived of their basic rights and neglected by previous regimes, he said, the peoples
of Ethiopia after decades of struggle achieved their goal of freedom and equality on December 8,
1995 with the upon the ratification of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of
Ethiopia. Since then, Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples‟ of Ethiopia have enjoyed 21 years of
constitutionalism which have ensured their equal rights, self-administration and equal
representation. This day, indeed, marked a milestone when the common vision of Ethiopians
established a system of constitutional government, allowing for sustained development.
The Prime Minister said that the country had now reached the point at which it needed resolve
numerous challenges related to a lack of good governance which had led to legitimate popular
grievances. He underlined that all the questions raised related to a lack of good governance,
abuse of power by government officials, corruption or questions of identity and selfadministration,
could be solved by ensuring the proper implementation of constitutional issues.
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He stressed that his government was committed to solve the problems and he called on the
nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia to stand alongside the government to achieve this.
He also emphasized the need to strengthen national unity and stand together against anti-peace
elements that were trying to threaten the sovereignty of the nation.
The Speaker of the House of Federation, Yalew Abate, said that this year the Nations,
Nationalities and Peoples‟ Day celebration should not confine itself to praising past success and
achievement, but it should also express the commitment to solve the current problems which
posed dangers for the federal system. He took the opportunity to praise the Harari Regional State for successfully hosting the celebration. The President of Harari Regional State, Murad
Abdulhadi, said that the celebration of this historic day would help Harari to build up its positive
image, help to make it a center for medical tourism and strengthen its efforts for infrastructural
development, as well as provide a strong basis for Harar‟s efforts to become registered as a
World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Present on the occasion as a Guest of Honor, Sudan President Omar Hassen Al- Bashir,
expressing his congratulations o t he occasion, said Sudan and Ethiopia were connected by old
and deeply rooted relations of blood and tribal interaction. The commonalities of the two could
have a great impact in strengthening and enhancing socio-economic and political interaction at
all levels. He noted that the vision of both countries was identical at regional and continental
level. The President of the Republic of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh, speaking in Amharic, said
that the Ethiopian peoples‟ diversity was a source of the country‟s prosperity and renaissance.
On behalf of the government and peoples of Djibouti, he congratulated the brotherly people and government of Ethiopia.
The celebration of the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia Day has created a platform
to acknowledge the diverse cultures and identities of the country and demonstrate the strength
that maintains the unity of the country. It is a great opportunity to reaffirm and strengthen the
commitment to the common destiny of ensuring the democratization, and the renaissance, of the nation. The day was celebrated across the country and in all Ethiopian Embassies and consulates overseas. The 12th Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia Day, next year, will be celebrated in Samara, the capital of the Afar Regional State.