ACCEPTING ERITREAN ASSEMBLY
FOR ADMINISTRATIVE UNION
When the name of Ethiopia first appeared in the pages of history, Eritrea formed an integral part of Our nation. Our ties do not consist merely in having lived together as one country. Ethiopia and Eritrea shared a common heritage of territorial contiguity, race and language, and Eritrea has served as one of the main fountains of Ethiopian civilization and culture.
In the latter part of the 19th Century, when the colonial powers separated Eritrea from the rest of Ethiopia and established in Eritrea a rule which lasted for about 60 years, it was their aim to establish a separate Eritrean identity and to dissociate Eritrea from the motherland. In this, the colonialists failed completely. There is no greater evidence of the bankruptcy of this cruel policy than the fact that not only those elderly Eritreans who had happily experienced the value of freedom in unity, but even those who were born during colonialist occupation of their country, voluntarily separated themselves from their parents and relative and, emigrating to the motherland, shed their blood for the cause of reunion of Eritrea with Ethiopia and, during the Fascist invasion for the liberation of the entire nation.
Fruit of Sacrifice
Those Eritreans who so gallantly sacrificed themselves on the battlefield did not die in vain. Their children stand today as living reminders of the determination of the people of Eritrea to maintain the unity of Ethiopia in freedom. When the invader was driven from Our nation by the combined efforts of Eritreans and Ethiopians alike, the international political situation was such that, unfortunately, no measure of Eritrean unity with Ethiopia could be immediately attained. Thus We were compelled to continue Our struggle for an additional decade before Eritrea was returned to its motherland. With the blessing of Almighty God, Our just efforts and struggles came to fruition, just 10 years ago, in Eritrea’s federation with the rest of Ethiopia – although this particular form of association was not that for which We had struggled, and it had been requested by no one.
Nonetheless, because of the world political situation then prevailing, the people of Eritrea, through their elected representatives, acceded to the Federation, and upon Our approval the federal system was put into operation and has continued to this day.
In the last decade, the people of Eritrea have increasingly come to realize that the Federation, alien to their tradition and experience, was superfluous and unnecessary among people whose unity had stood the test of time. Moreover, the operation of this system was necessarily beset by serious difficulties which, among other consequences, tended to retard the pace of economic and social development. As the years passed, the people of Eritrea repeatedly requested Us to abolish the federal system and to re-establish the age-old integrity of Eritrea with the rest of Ethiopia. We are aware that many modern nations, including a number of major powers, do not accept the concept of federalism for their own people and prefer instead a unitary form of government. We also know that among those nations which have subscribed to the principle of federalism, many have been compelled by the demands of the fast-moving modern age to adopt measures designed to mitigate the adverse effects of this system upon the rate of progress of their people. But, nonetheless, We have, in good faith, allowed this system, foreign to our history and experience, to function without let or hindrance.
The consequences of the past decade are known to all. The Federation instituted between the people of Eritrea and the rest of Ethiopia has tended to slow the speed of the economic and social progress of the entire nation, including Eritrea.
The Federation has increasingly been manipulated as a ready-made tool through which the enemies of Ethiopian and Eritrean progress and solidarity have endeavoured to further their evil designs.
The Federation contains the inherent danger of creating misunderstandings among people who have, for centuries past, experienced no problems in living together.
The Federation, by duplicating administrative apparatuses, has occasioned waste of both human and material resources which could have been otherwise utilized for development purposes. One is accordingly fully justified in concluding that the unfortunate consequences of this particular form of federation and the needs of the age, and not any conscious effort on the part of the people concerned, have brought about its demise.
Any responsible person who has deliberated upon and examined carefully the unfortunate consequences flowing from the federal system under consideration will feel no surprise that the people of Eritrea, who have had the misfortune of being directly subjected to its adverse consequences, have urged and pleaded that it be eliminated and replaced by a unitary form of administration. The steps We are now about to take, therefore, merely confirm and implement the result which the natural solidarity of the Ethiopian people and their wise desire for closer collaboration has already brought about.
The people of Eritrea, through their representatives gathered together in the Eritrean Assembly, recognizing the harmful consequences of the operation of the federal system through the experience of the past decade, desirous of living together with their other Ethiopian brothers without hindrance or obstacle, have formally requested, by their resolution voluntarily and unanimously adopted on November 14, 1962, that the federation be dissolved. In its place, they have asked for the complete administrative integration of Eritrea with the rest of Ethiopia in order to facilitate and speed the economic growth and development of the nation. We have accepted this resolution and have consented to its being placed into effect.
The human rights and fundamental freedoms contained in the former Constitutions of Eritrea are, equally, important provisions existing in the Constitution which We promulgated for Ethiopia in 1955. The people of Ethiopia have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy these basic freedoms, and they shall continue to be protected zealously. All rights, privileges, concessions and exemptions of what-ever nature granted to persons or companies within Eritrea, whether foreign or national, are sacred obligations which will not be impaired or affected in any manner.
In Our Throne Speech of November 2, 1962, We spoke of measures under consideration whereby administrative authority will be delegated to local administrations to direct their own activities in such designated fields as education, health, transport, communications and so on. Until such time as these measures have entered into force and are fully implemented and until the laws and regulations now in force in Eritrea are revised and replaced, existing Eritrean legislation will remain valid.
Throughout Our nation’s history, the Ethiopian people have spared no sacrifice to maintain their unity and independence. Today, closer and more united than ever, they stand ready to guard, jealously and gallantly, this unity and independence in their peaceful and determined march toward progress and prosperity. We thank Our people of Eritrea who, guided by a deep sense of patriotism and unity, have laboured without cease to bring about this advancement. We vow before God that, as We have repeatedly stated, We shall spare no effort to secure the happiness and advancement of Our people.
We are thankful to Almighty God Who, through His Grace, has spared Us to see this day.
Nov. 16, 1962.
Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie - page 472 -