14 November 1962 A Day to Remember

Radio Erena: 17 November 2019

14 November 2019 coincided with the 57th anniversary of the abrogation of the Federation between Ethiopia and Eritrea. This noteworthy date nearly passes without remembrance.

On this date, the Ethiopian former Emperor Haile Selassie annulled the United Nation´s sponsored Federation between his kingdom and the former Italian colony of Eritrea. He immediately declared Eritrea as an Ethiopian province, thus dissolved the Eritrean National Assembly and abrogated the Eritrean Constitution drafted in 1952, one year later after establishing the Federation.
When the joint Allied armies of the United States, Great Britain, France, and the former Soviet Union have decisively defeated Italy and the Axis Powers, Eritrea was placed under British care-taker administration in accordance with Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA) Agreement. The vanquishing Four Powers have not reached a consensus on the fate of the Italian colony of Eritrea, therefore, they decided to send a fact-finding mission to assess the possibilities of independence. Adding more to the protracted Four Powers dispute, the Mission concluded that Eritrea has neither the resources nor the competences of an independent nation-state.

The Four Powers referred the former Italian colonies´ dossiers to the United Nations pursuant to the Peace Agreement with Italy. In the United Nations, the debate over Eritrea reflected the intensely hot post-war international order. The World War paved the way for vigorous new world actors: the US and the Soviet Union who soon got embroiled in a cold war. The United Nations was a feeble new-born with small African membership, namely: Libera, Egypt, and Ethiopia who had high stakes in Eritrea´s case. Inside Eritrea, the situation was much worse, there, the Eritreans were sharply divided between a pro-independence bloc led by Al- Rabita Al-Islamiyah and a pro-union camp which called- with massive Ethiopian support- for a total annexation of Eritrea to the motherland Ethiopia.

In the United Nations General Assembly, a typical UN´s satisfy-all settlement was reached in a form of Federation between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The formula aimed at satisfying the United States- the Federation´s formula engineer – in favor of Ethiopia, who in turn will have Eritrea and its Red Sea ports. The United States will be rewarded with a listening post in Asmara. The pro-independence bloc will be appeased as the country will be safe from total annexation or division between Sudan and Ethiopia according to an earlier British plan. The pro-union camp considered the settlement as a bridge to the forthcoming annexation, which actually took place ten years later.

The flagrant abrogation of the Federation came as a result of the long-term Ethiopian planning from day one of the adoption of the resolution in 1951. By 1955, the Eritreans realized that their country will entirely be devoured by the Old Emperor. In November 1958, nationalists established the Eritrean Liberation Movement which had a large membership in the towns and the countryside.
Einstein´s words resonated in Eritreans´ ears: ¨The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don´t do anything about it. ¨

Indeed, the United Nations lent deaf Ears to the Eritreans’ cries for justice. The United States was happy in her newly won grounds in the Horn of Africa. Abandoned by all, the Eritreans realized that only the barrel of the gun will secure their rights.

The abrogation of the Federation on 14 November 1962 passed under the very eyes of the United Nations and the international community; the matter which delayed independence of Eritrea for three bitter decades in which the region was deprived of peace and prosperity. Ironically, these two reasons were the pretext for issuing the Federation Resolutions 390 (A) V in 1951.

By Fathi Osman



  • comment-avatar
    Bereket 4 years ago

    67 not 57