Transition to Federation - U.N. Commissioner Anze Matienzo Arrived
21 Feb, 1951
Following the passing of the UN resolution to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia, Anze Matienzo arrived in Eritrea to oversee the transition to federation.
U.N. Commissioner Anze Matienzo arrived to oversee the federation of Eritrea with Ethiopia, seen here meeting Eritrean representatives
After the defeat of Italy in World War II in Eritrea, Eritrea came under the control of the British Military Administration. The British administration was effectively in place between 1941 and 1952. During this time in 1947, after the implementation of the Treaty of Peace between the victorious Four Powers, namely the United States, the United Kingdom, the USSR and France and the members of the Axis, of which Italy was one, a commission was formed to do an internal investigation in Eritrea to decide its future. A consensus could not be reached between independence or union with Ethiopia because of the wide polarization of the Eritrean population. The case was referred to the United General Assembly, and a UN Commission for Eritrea was set up to do further investigation.
The new commission had delegates from member countries of Burma, Guatemala, Norway, Pakistan and South Africa. The commission did its research and presented its recommendations in the Fifth Session of the United Nations in November 1949. The resolution put forward by Burma and South Africa to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia was adopted.
With this adoption, a draft constitution was drafted to be debated and adopted by the Eritrean Assembly. The constitution also included the Federal Act as part of the overarching Ethiopian Federal Constitution. The ratification of the agreed-upon constitution was to be done by the Emperor of Ethiopia.
Eduardo Anze Matienzo was sent by the UN body to oversee and report back on the process of the federation by traveling throughout the former colony meeting representatives and leaders. He reported back to the General Assembly in December 1952 in its Seventh Session. His report received a unanimous popular vote; Eritrea was to be federated with Ethiopia.
U.N. Commissioner Anze Matienzo with Eritrean representatives: pro-independece, first Mufti of Eritrea Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Mukhtar Ahmed Omer (center) and pro-union leader Tedla Bairu (to his right)