By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
December 9, 2011 (MEKELLE) - Ethiopia on Friday celebrated the sixth Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Day under the theme: "Our Constitution towards Diversity, Unity and Renaissance."
Representatives from over 80 ethnic groups gathered in northern Ethiopia’s Mekelle town, where they displayed their music and dancing in traditional dress, decorated in ornaments some of them with tattoos on their face and body.
The show was aimed at demonstrating unity within the diversity of the Ethiopia’s many ethnic groups, some of whom have groups who oppose the government.
Addressing the crowd Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, said that the constitution of the country has ensured the rights of nations, nationalities and peoples who were abandoned in past regimes.
According to Zenawi the rapid economic development registered during the past years, and the decline in internal political problems is the outcome of the constitution.
“We have maintained our internal stability and further are playing role to ensuring peace and stability in our neighbouring countries and in the region as a whole” Zenawi said.
“The constitution is the instrumental tool to our speedy development. We are registering rapid economic growth” Meles said referring to the double digit economic growth Ethiopia says it has recorded for the last eight years.
Representatives from the neighbouring countries of Sudan, Djibouti and Somalia also attended the national occasion.
Sudanese representative, Adem Hamid Mussa, speaker of the council of states of Sudan, said Ethiopia is a symbol of harmony and coexistence.
“We have come here to express our respect to the people of Ethiopia. We are here not only because of our interest to strengthen relations with Ethiopia but also because of our aspiration in realising African unity” Mussa said.
“There is peaceful coexistence among the vast ethnic identities and Ethiopia is an important model for the rest of the world” he added.
Ethiopian leaders argue that Ethiopia’s federal system has helped bring development, build democracy and consensus among the Ethiopian people.
According to some Ethiopian politicians, federalism might be the best means of accommodating multi-national and multi-ethnic diversity. Federalism allows to the decentralisation of politics and also has enhanced participation of peoples in the political process of the country.
Ethiopia has seen a downturn in the number of conflicts among its different nations and nationalities and the constitution that ensured rights, identity recognition and respect to all nations, nationalities and peoples has contributed a lot in curbing threats of conflicts or disputes.
Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populace country with a population of 81 million, is home to some 84 ethnic groups. The country began commemorating its own nations, nationalities and peoples’ day six years ago on December 9, the day in which the current constitution was adopted.