Prince (Abeto Lij) Girma Yohannis Iyasu (born 1961) is the Iyasuist claimant to the throne of Ethiopia. He is also known by the name Girma Ghebresillasie.
He is the son of Lij Yohannes Iyasu (1915-1977). Through his father, Lij Girma is a grandson of Lij Iyasu, Emperor-designate of Ethiopia from 1913 until 1916 when he was deposed by Dejazmach Teferi Mekonen highly supported by the British, French and Italian Ministers (Thesiger, Brice and Coli) and excommunicated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, which deprived him of his rights of succession. Iyasu was the son of Negus Mikael of Wollo, and matrilineal grandson of Emperor Menelik II of Ethiopia. Lij Girma Yohannes grew up in the monastries of Asebot, Dega Stfanos (Tana) and Debre Damo. At the age of 7 he left Ethiopia in 1968 with the help of the former Prince Loui Ferdnand of Prussia grand son of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany in collaboration with Lij Mered and Mesfin Birru (Sons of Ras Birru Woldegabriel)plus the then Governor of Djibouti. He received his education at the famous London School of Economics (United Kingdom), University of California at Berkeley (USA) and Universities of Heidelberg, Bielefeld and Bremen (Germany). He has also worked as a professor and researcher at the University of Bremen, University of Miami (Miami Beach, FL, London School of Economis and Alemaya University (as chairman of the governing board of the university).
Lij Girma claims that not only the government of Dejazmach Teferi Mekonen (who styled himself as Haile Sellasie I.) in Ethiopia by the 1916 deposition of his grandfather is illegitimate but also Teferi himself was very very far to claim the crown according to the rule of the Ethiopian royal house since Menelik I. As such, as a grandson of Lij Iyasu, he claims to be the leading core member of the Solomonic dynasty from the house of David and rightful monarch of Ethiopia. This is not based on any constitutional or traditional procedure, since Ethiopia did not receive its first modern constitution addressing order of succession until 1931, and the traditional male line succession would have gone to Dejazmach Taye Gulilat; Lij Iyasu, Ras Kassa and Emperor Haile Selassie are all descended from the royal house through female lines. This claim is based solely on the will of Emperor Menelik II which designated Lij Iyasu as his heir.
These claims are challenged by the excommunication of Lij Iyasu (Iyasu V) by Mattheos X, Abuna of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, and the fact that Iyasu declined to be crowned, citing the fact that he did not want to occupy a higher office before he united the Ethiopians and throw out the Italians from Eritrea. He was the founder of the first Ethiopian government auditing systems, Municipality, the Police force and Judicial reforms. He was the first monarch to build Mosques for the neglected and highly disadvantaged Muslims of Ethiopia. just like a democrat, he left the politics to be executed by his prime Minister and traveled the country to see all the poverty, unjust and marginalization created by government officials. At the kindest he is remembered as a soft-hearted but well-advised youth.
Support for the various Iyasuist claimants is still vibrant since the death of Teferi Mekonen (haile Selasie.Because of this and the new real historiography coming out, the Iyasuist cause is again the mainstream monarchist movement in Ethiopia. Additionally, Lij Girma's claims were never ever challenged except by Asfa-Wosen Teferi (Amha Sillasie). Lij Girma is the only one to currently make this claim. His claim may also be subject to the test of loyalties according to which members who have abjured their citizenship, faith, or married non-Ethiopians may fail.
Lij Girma uses the title "Crown Prince of Ethiopia" as his title of pretence. This title is also claimed by Zera Yacob Amha Selassie the grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie I. The throne of Ethiopia since the reign of HIM Atse(Emperor) Menelik II have been subject to the guardianship of the Imperial Crown Council of Ethiopia. It was the Imperial Crown Council headed by Fitawrari Habtegiorgis Dinagde that removed the sitting(if uncrowned) Lij Iyasu (Iyasu V) for cause. The same Council elevated a royal cousin, Tafari Makonnen to be Crown Prince of Ethiopia, and proclaimed Zauditu Menelik as Queen of Kings, Lion of Judah, Elect of God and Empress of Ethiopia. The Crown Council actions paid heed to a one of the wishes of Menelik II who while alive had all but elevated his first cousin (father of Ras Tafari), Ras Makonnen, to be his successor. Ras Tafari Makonnen went on to become, again by consent of the Crown Council of the time, Emperor Haile Selassie I. The functions of the Imperial Crown Council, verification not only of constitutional legitimacy of an intendant monarch but also compliance of the same with the ancient code of the Fetha Negest is one of the most important in the Ethiopian crowns orders of succession. The Fetha Negest codes require an Emperor to be able to function in his role both as head of the nation, as well as head of the armed forces in times of conflict. The 1930 constitution of Ethiopia attempts to codify the order of succession in modern terms. But the centuries old Fetha Negest and Fetha Negest scholars still prevail in discussions on points of law and conflict between the old and the new.
Lij Girma's claim to fame came in the 1999 re-internment of HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I when a newspaper article suggested in an interview with him that he felt the late monarch deserved his fate, and demanding to know what was done with the remains of his grandfather Lij Iyasu. The article was used by the EPRDF government as one of its many attempts to shed a negative light on the period of mourning for Emperor Haile Selassie. Lij Girma was widely condemned at the time for his lack of Ethiopian etiquette. Little has been heard of him in Ethiopia since.
Lij Girma is married to Claudia Bertram, who, since their marriage, goes by the name Princess Claudia Iyasu Menelik. They have one son, Lij Kaerrod Girma. Lij Girma also has two daughters from a previous relationship.
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