21 October 2006

Ethiopia: UEDP-Medhin Expects More Promising Results From Positive Negotiations

MEDHIN said on Thursday that rounds of discussions started with EPRDF mid-year of last year were, overall, showing a promising result. Both parties have managed to agree to discuss six out of the eight issues put forward for negotiations.

Issues of imprisoned party members and work progress of the Inquiry Commission established to investigate incidents of June, October and November of 2005, when civilians were killed and injured following clashes between the police and protestors, were the two issues not open for negotiations, according to the EPRDF.

The EPRDF said that it will not negotiate on the first issues as it is now in the hands of courts and the second was under investigation by a commission established by the parliament , and how awaiting presentation to parliament.

Of the six issues agreed upon on the agenda, agreement was reached on two issues at the end of the first round of discussions on Tuesday and announced to the public. One of the issues, which was proposed by UEDP-MEDHIN, was that government institutions and officials serve both the ruling party and opposition parties, parties with minority seats in the parliament get the right to be heard and propose ideas and that a joint inquiry commission be established to resolve problems that occurred on party members and supporters following the May 2005 elections.

Also agreed upon was the issue of political parties and the constitution. Both parties agreed that political parties have the right to raise their differences on the constitution and try to amend or make changes within the parameters of the constitution while respecting and abiding by the constitution. Similarly, both parties affirmed that they will follow judicial and peaceful means in the pursuit of their political struggle.

The second round of discussions will be on issues of use of the mass media, the electoral board and government monetary support to opposition parties and its implementation which will be held shortly. UDEP-MEDHIN said that the fact that the ruling party was willing to negotiate on the issue of the electoral board made these discussions/especially more promising. After the first round of discussions, both parties agreed, in the presence of the Prime Minister, to continue these dialogues with more tolerance.

UEDP-MEDHIN added that the continuation of theses promising negotiations and bringing them to fruition will contribute immensely to the democratic process in this country. It also believes that successful completion of the process will better the democratic process that was hurt due to the disturbances that occurred following the May 2005 elections. It also said that a joint effort between opposition parties will create a better advantage to bring common issues to the ruling party and negotiate, than each going about it their own way. UEDP-MEDHIN also called on the public to lend its peaceful support to issues on the agenda not agreed upon.

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