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Did the Italian invasion of 1935 made the treaties of Italy and Emperor Menlik null and void?

Tigrai Online November 8, 2014

It has been about 24 years since Eritrea become an independent country. There is huge lingering disagreement among Ethiopians how the Eritrean referendum was conducted. A significant number of Ethiopians believe the Ethiopian people should have been given a chance to vote on the fate of Eritrea.

As matter of procedure the people who are trying to secede are the once that are given the chance to vote to determine if they want to become an independent country or remain where they are. Ethiopians couldn’t determine the fate of Eritreans that is a fact.

The other question raised by Ethiopians is there is no legal ground for Eritrea to become an independent country. The Eritrean independent is based on the colonial treaties between Emperor Menlik of Ethiopia and Italy. The major treaties between Emperor Menlik and Italy were signed in 1900 covering the central sector, 1902 covering the western sector and 1908 covering the eastern sector of the country.  There might have been some minor amendments in 1903 and 1906. These treaties and only these treaties created the country we know today as Eritrea. Before 1989 when the Emperor Yohannes was alive there was no country by the name of Eritrea.

The Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Resolution A.G.H/16.1 of July 21, 1964 agreed the national boundaries of African countries will be based on Colonialism. The OAU in 1964 said “All the member States are committed to respect the frontiers existing at the time of their independence.” All member state except Morocco and Somalia agreed to maintain colonial boundaries. As a member and founder of the OAU, Ethiopia has no choice but to abide by the resolution. Some Ethiopians say not quite so fast.

The treaties between Italy and Ethiopia to settle the Ethio-Italian war of 1896 was signed by both the Ethiopian and Italian Kings of the time. Both included the phrase “in his name and the name of his successors" in the documents they signed.

Despite this fact the Italian fascist government invaded Ethiopia in 1935 breaking international law and occupying the country for five years. Many Ethiopians argue that the invasion of Italy constitutes that all treaties and agreements signed between Italy and Ethiopia regarding the Ethiopian territories north of the Mereb River null and void. There by making the Eritrean claim of nationhood invalid.

We are not sure if this argument has merit or not, but we know many Ethiopians believe the Eritrean independence is false.

Let’s say for the sake of argument the group pushing this idea is right, but that doesn’t stop the Eritrean people’s desire to be free. How would the Eritrean question be answered? Are these groups advocating going back to war to get back the former Ethiopian province of Eritrean by force?

Aboy Sibhat and Gebru Asrat are prime examples of this raging argument among Ethiopians about the status of Eritrea.

The question remains to be answered by those who believe the Eritrean question was solved in the wrong way. How would you bring back Eritrea peacefully to Ethiopia without the willingness of the Eritrean people and on what legal ground?

If anyone would layout an idea how to bring back Eritrea as a whole not Asseb or a little piece of land, but the entire country legally and in a peaceful means, 95% of Ethiopians will be behind them

Many Ethiopians believe Eritrean independence illegal


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