Afar People’s Party (APP)
Our Great Leader Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfare Passed Away.
Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ileyhi Raajiquun!!!
Yalli gannati num kaa abay, kay buxah maraa kee qafar ayuntah imaan kee sabri yacaay!!
April 27, 2011
A Profile of Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfare
Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfare aged 90, died on 24 of April, 2011 in Addis Ababa after a long time medical treatment in the capital. Ethiopia and the Afar nation lost one of its greatest leaders who struggle for unity and democracy in the country. The history of the Sultan was marked by intensive and dramatic events in his life.
The birth and enthronement
Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfare was born in Furse, a place east of Aysaita where Turko-Egyptain forces were defeated in 1875. He was grown up under Awsan royal family tradition and became its leader at the age of 22. He took over power after sultan Mohamed was captured and removed by emperor Haile Sellassie forces in 1944.
Opposing centralization of Addis Ababa regime
During the rule of Haile Sellassie Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfare was a power to reckon with in the country. Initially his relation with Addis Ababa was not good due to the government attempt to dislodge the power of traditional leadership and impose central authority from Addis Ababa, which the sultan opposed and boycotted its rule. He withdrew from Aysaita to Boha in 1950 to carry out opposition against the central government. However, after two years of negotiations, mediated by Fitawrari Yayo Hamadu a settlement was reached and the sultan remained as a semi independent ruler, where his power was directly connected to the emperor Haile Sellassie in Addis Ababa. Gradually, he was conferred the title of Bitwadad, a highest royal rank ever given, to person outside the royal family in Ethiopia.
Development efforts by the Sultan
Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfare was known for his unity and social welfare stand. Ethiopian regime understood the opportunity to use the Sultan as a bridge to reach peripheries and the Muslims population in the Horn of Africa. Among his major gains there are:
· He constructed a boarding schools and a Madrassa in Aysaita in 1960s for children from all corner of the Afar provinces.
· The sultan rallied Islamic leaders, opposed the consumption of Khat and improved religious practices and declared the right of women.
· He organized agricultural expansion, while opposing the seizure of pastoral lands for private investment. He brought the Bank of Addis Ababa to Aysaita and facilitated loans to Afar personalities for agricultural business. Because of his effort Awsa became known as “ Kuwaitis” during this time. Even other Afar in the middle AwashValley were supported and benefited by his vision.
· The growing wealth of the Afar put the sultan in conflict to the Awash Valley Authority (AVA), which saw the whole Awash valley area under its jurisdiction. The sultan organized popular uprising through the whole AwashValley and confronted the central government.
Waged a guerrilla warfare against the military regime
The Derg military regime emerged to put an end to his effort and instead nationalized the AwashValley development. The Derg sent a number of conspired delegates and messages to capture or else kill the sultan at spot. All these conspiracy attempts failed and, escorted by his army, the sultan managed to escape through Djibouti to Saudi Arabia.
· Prepared for major confrontation against the Derg regime in Addis Abba. Organized and trained recruits from all Afar regions and formed Afar Liberation Front (ALF). When the Derg army invaded Awsa the Afar popular opposition was at place.
· Made the critical Afar situation known particularly to the Arab World.
· Solicited support for Afar and other Ethiopian oppositions and tried to form a common front against the Derg including TPLF.
Under the grip of the Woyane
While the opposition took over power in 1991 the sultan was among the first to participants in reconstruction and democratic changes in Ethiopia.
· The sultan and ALF were among the first to join the Charter conference in 1991 in Addis Ababa.
· He was the first one to denounce the Woyane invasion in Dubti, Dat bahari and Gawane in September 1991, while the sultan himself was at gun point in Dubtie.
· The sultan opposed Meles’s insulting to Ethiopian flag as “just a piece of rag” and stated “even our camels know Ethiopian flag”.
· Gradually the ALF was systematically marginalized and removed from local rule, the sultan’s resident in Aysaita was raided, and the remaining ALF army was eliminated on border area in cooperation with Djiboutian army.
· It was difficult for Woyane to accept the popularity of the sultan as Woyane has never been happy with traditional leadership in the country.
· As situation with the Woyane rulers exasperated, the sultan fled again to Saud Arabia but lulled to return home on condition of better relations.
· The Woyane has never been happy with Afar leadership. Thus they created the gap between the northern and the southern Afar to create regional and tribal conflicts that later diffused by the sultan. When this did not work the Woyane create a gap between the sultan and his son Hanfare and further between the two sons of the sultan, setting up separate party to each of them.
· Today the Woyane is working to split and crush the royal family of Awsa . Some are forced to exile. Those who remained in the country are in constant harassment and arrest. While alive the sultan himself was in house arrest. His property was under Woyane supervision and control.
The funeral ceremony
The sultan coffin was transported from Addis Ababa to Aysaita by a helicopter. The Afar dignitaries from all of Afar region and Djibouti were present. But Afar from Dankalia and the sultanate of Rahaita were not allowed formally attend the funeral ceremony. We are dismayed that the Woyane regime who never respected the sultan while alive is now trying to gain a political point and manipulate the funeral ceremony of the sultan for its advantage. Every Afar knows that the Woyane has always made a mess out of the traditional leadership in general and that of Awsa in particular. Woyane is remembered in history to have not only destructed our tradition but also our identity.
The Afar people’s Party would like to express its sincere condolences to his family and entire Afar Nation on the loss of our great leader Sultan Ali Mirah Hanfare. May his soul rest in eternal peace in janna! We anticipate that the traditional leadership which symbolizes our nation remains intact as the tradition allows it in the near future.
Our beloved sultan Ali Mirah Hanfare will be remembered as a great statesman, diplomat and a visionary leader of the Horn of Africa. He left a precious legacy of generosity, tolerance, patriotism, that each and every afar should be proud of and handle it carefully.