Documentary based on prime minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed One fact must be stated upfront about these controversies. They are not amenable to resolution by merely conducting fair and free elections. The same applies to other related matters, such as Ethiopian national identity, the bundle of rights signifying citizenship, and the proper balance between group and individual rights, etc.
Distinctions Between Hige Mengist and Constitution
Let me now go on to enumerate the factors that distinguish Hige Mengist from Constitution. First, while a Constitution precedes and brings into being a democratic government, all of Ethiopia’s successive Hige Mengists were preceded and were promulgated by a sitting government. The practice of granting Hige Mengist started in 1931 when Emperor Haile Selassie promulgated the initial one roughly fifteen years after coming to power. Lest anyone consider it as anything but his generous gift, he reportedly and forthrightly asserted at the time (roughly translated as “without being asked or coerced, of Our free will, We granted a Higga Mengist to the Ethiopian people”).
The successor of the Emperor, the Derg regime, took thirteen years to grant the Ethiopian people its preferred version of Hige Mengist in 1987. And it took the present rulers of Ethiopia, the EPRDF, almost four years to promulgate the current Hige Mengist in 1995.
Second, a Constitution and a Hige Mengist affect the rights and duties of the ruled and ruler in very opposite ways. Both the ruled and the ruler are duty bound to abide by a Constitution as it enumerates their rights and duties. One of the crucial roles of the Constitution is constraining the behaviors and actions of the ruler.
On the other hand, a Hige Mengist is an instrument for asserting the power of the ruler without having any constraining impact on its actions and behaviors. The grantor of the Hige Mengist, as the result, has every right to amend, scrap or overhaul it without consulting anybody else outside the narrow ruling circle. And this is precisely what happened in 1955 when the initial Hige Mengist was amended without any public discussion whatsoever.Emperor Haile Selassie, as the grantor of the first Hige Mengist, was obviously not presumed to subject himself to it. Traditional thinking encapsulated in the Amharic saying