21 February 2018

Ethiopia: National Dialogue, Political Unity - Issues At Hand in Moving Ethiopia Forward

Photo: Addis Standard
Demonstrations in Addis Ababa

The political situation in Ethiopia is polarized. The ruling party Ethiopian People's Democratic Front EPRDF (EPRDF) is in a political crisis following the announcement of resignation by its Chairman and Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn. What are the possible solutions to move the country forward?

Unity for Democracy and Justice Party President Tigistu Awolu tells The Ethiopian Herald that Ethiopia is now in political crisis though it has opportunity to come up forward if not missed.

"I personally think that it is critical to sit for comprehensive political dialogue to curb the situation and bring national consensus, manage the polarized thoughts of the political parties, interested political organization, activists and academia."

Following the resignation letter of the Premier, there is power gap among the Coalition Party EPRDF. His resignation has something to tell. It could be a good lesson to other leaders even for Africans to step down willingly for the sake of publics' interest.

Some African leaders are witnessed trying to revise constitutions to prolongate their power even after their term of office is over. "Thus, I consider it as a positive beginning for the advancement of democracy in Ethiopia," Tigistu notes.

The ruling party is still EPRDF with the principle of collective leadership. If the administration system could be presidential, it would be clear to replace the president through election. In Ethiopia's parliamentary procedure, it is the ruling party that should have to choose the Prime Minister.

"Here, my concern lies on how the position is filled and the possible political situation among the four coalition parties that make up the ruling party winds up."

To solve such political crisis, it is better to invite all political parties including those residing abroad and those banned by the parliament and others to come to the round table.

There are negotiations even after war; he said adding that it is merely through national dialogue that the current political crisis in Ethiopia can be solved.

It is time to look at other countries' experience. By no means should a single space be left opened for the external forces to penetrate to internal politics. Ethiopians should stand politically united. Power should have to come after survival and the national security, he underscores.

Pertaining to the State of Emergency, the President says that it is the government's exclusive issue. It is all about constitutional matter. The Constitution dictated that State of Emergency can be declared in a situation either the constitutional order is violated or natural hazard that could not be curbed by the normal situation occurred.

In the recent political developments, democratic and human rights of individuals have been violated, peace and stability has been threatened, public and private properties have been damaged and looted. "From, this point of view, I am for the state of Emergency declared following the political instability," he says.

The incidents in the current political developments in the country are not things came to happen accidentally; but they are the outcome of the crisis and instability occurred during the last three years, Lecturer at Mekelle University Political Science and Strategic Studies in the Northern Ethiopia Mehari Yohannes.

The now resigned Premier has come to power following the sudden death of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. At the time he is in the post, there had been power vacuum. Hence, his acceptance was like bit controversial, he says.

Mehari also active political analyst in the country, notes that the four parties have been engaged in no unity of purpose unlike in the past periods. The Front has been busy at the four parties' power scandal since recent times. Following this, there were unrest in Oromia and Amhara States that led to a ten months State of Emergency last year. There was hope to restore peace and stability following the activities underwent by the emergency enforcing task force and the ruling Party's deep renewal; but failed to be effective.

The present political movement if not curbed shortly may lead to horizontal conflicts and civil war. In the recent strikes, some signs of racial conflicts have been demonstrated; Mehari states that the state of emergency is justifiable to end such risk of civil war. "Countries like French, Turkey and Egypt are in state of emergency. The US America will do the same if its national survival is at risk."

If the PM could not able to lead four of the coalition parties, that means he has no acceptance. Hence, for Mehari, the resignation of the Prime Minister is delayed.

The PM's resignation decision is positive and vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy, he opines.

Now it is time to wait for EPRDF to elect a leader who is capable enough to lead the country forward, Mehari says. The problems related to good governance, acute political space, and public demands should be addressed accordingly till the next election and national consensus will come through this.

"The unacceptable point here is to try to manipulate this opportunity to set up transitional government. The country has constitutional procedures and systems to go through. Let us give the chance to the ruling party to come up with the solutions."

Mehari says that at this time in point if the ruling party tries to control the political sphere narrowly, arrest and detain constitutionally operating political leaders and members, activists in a way that closes the way for interested groups to participate in the political matters of the country, state failure is likely to happen.

The way Forward

Tigistu said that the prime solution for the present political failure in the country is through effective national dialogues with all the interested organizations, civil society and representatives of various organizations.

All political parties, including the ruling party, measure their political strength by comparing with the weak sides of the other opposing parties which is illogical.

However, every political party, interested groups and the general public are equally concerned to participate in the process of bringing political stability. It is high time to bring about national consensus, Tigistu reflects.

The ruling party has to work to secure the country through facilitating national dialogues.

In its recent Communiqué, the Oromo People's Democratic Movement (OPDO) has urged opposition parties, reside within and out of the country, to work together, Deutsch Welle reported.

Welcoming the resignation of the Premier as a new path to the country's political transformation, the ruling party EPRDF also says in its web portal that there are still tasks to be done at a national level.

The shortage of democracy is at its lowest stage. As a result, various political and administrative questions are displayed. Rent seeking problems and the issue of good governance are still challenges to national survival. These problems are the top public interests to be solved.

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