By Elias Amare
Ethiopia’s Lt. General Kebede Gebre’s Memorandum to Emperor Haile Selassie on the Resolution of “the Issue of #Eritrea”: Footnotes of History, 1974
Lieutenant General Kebede Gebre was one time Army Chief of Staff and later Defense Minister of Ethiopia in the 1960s and 70s. This hand-written 12-pages top-secret memorandum was written on 6th March 1974 (27 Yekatit 1966, Ethiopian Calendar) in the immediate aftermath of the so-called “Yekatit Abyot” (February 1974 Revolt), which started by the Ethiopian 2nd Division Army’s mutiny in Eritrea followed by widespread popular uprising all over Ethiopia.
The top-secret memo in Amharic begins thus:
«I believe your majesty will remember our meeting on 25th February 1974 (18 Yekatiit 1966, E.C.), in which the Minister of Pen Aklilu Habtewold and Ato Getahun Tessema were present, where I conveyed my concerns to your majesty verbally. At that meeting, having listened to me with great patience, and realizing the serious weight of the matter, your majesty had permitted and ordered me to present the matter in writing. I thus present this brief memorandum with great humility.»
General Kebede then proceeds to summarize his discussion with the monarch on four major points:
- The political and economic crisis facing the country;
- The prevailing peace and security situation in the country, and the grave consequences if matters continue unresolved;
- His recommendations on how to resolve the serious crises facing the country;
- Instead of being intransigent in the belief that the Eritrean issue can only be resolved through military force and continuing bloodletting, he recommended to seriously reconsider the matter and seek alternative sustainable solution.
The memo then continues to elaborate on the problems in Eritrea and explores possible political solutions to the war raging there for the last decade. The final recommendation of the author was that there could be no military solution in Eritrea, and the best option was to return the old “federation arrangement” with even greater freedoms.
Sadly, on 23 November 1974, General Kebede Gebre was summarily and extrajudicially executed, along with 59 other top officials of the Haile Selassie regime, by the military junta known as the Derg, which took power a few weeks after the writing of this memo, and eventually overthrew the monarch in a “creeping coup” in September 1974.
Read the memo in PDF format at this link:
Or you can read it below in jpg format…👇🏾