30 November 2017

Ethiopia: People to People Relations Promoting Peaceful Coexistence

Recently, various discussion forums have been organized across the country following the instability in some states because of ethnic based clashes. Due to this, there have been protests and displacement of people.

The government is organizing various discussion forums so that the public could present its grievances peacefully on various national issues, which includes slow progress of development projects, poor representation, and others. And the platforms helped the public to express its grievances in a democratic manner. Besides the platforms are helpful for the government to properly respond to the demands of the public, Government Communication Affairs Minister Dr. Negeri Lencho told journalists during a press conference held last Saturday.

The major reasons behind the current instability in some areas of the country are poor governance and unfair distribution of fruits of development. Therefore, the government is working to curb the problems that have indirectly attached with the federal system.

According to Dr. Negeri, additional discussion forums will be organized soon in Oromia, Somali and other states to promote common value of the people and peaceful coexistence. "The federal system is believed to sustain the development of the country rather than causing clashes," he noted.

Accordingly, various similar programs are taking place in various states. The consultative forums that have taken place between the Amhara and Tigray and Amhara and Oromia states were successful in raising the publics' awareness on nationalism and the efforts to create single political and economic community. This would help to ensure the sustainability of the ongoing national development endeavors in all sectors, said Tsegaye Bekele, Amhara State Communication Affairs Deputy Director.

Scholars are also actively engaged in the programs by presenting studies and recommending possible ways to strengthen the social interaction. Temesgen Tesema is a law lecturer at Wollo University. He sees the discussions forums as positive and timely reactions to the clashes that have been witnessed due to the mishandling of the federal system.

It is a timely solution but it could not be a long term solution, he said. The House of Federation must work on the long term solutions to prevent conflicts.

The forums are helpful to create public dialogue to help the society share thoughts and to look for ways to solve common problems. Sharing resources fairly would also promote peaceful coexistence.

According to Temesgen, organizing such platforms is a healthy reaction that would open the door for further dialogue with regard to the socioeconomic and political development of the country. It would lead to consensus to solve common problems of all.

However, the programs have to be sustainable to have meaningful impact. As the effort is about creating a single political and economic community, elders, religious leaders, public figures and intellectuals should play due role through utilizing the common values of the people.

According to Tsegaye, Amhara state has planned to organize similar programs with other neighboring states including Beninshangnul Gumuz in the near future.

Till now, over 1500 people were participated in the discussion forums in Amhara state. On the program, religious leaders, elders, intellectuals and administers of the states were participated. And the platforms were successful in bringing about agreement to cooperate in peace and development among the states.

The federal system has enabled nations, nationalities and peoples of the country to have a peaceful coexistence. Yet, there are also challenges to the system.

"We need to focus on issues that unit us. We need to give emphasis to national matters. Although there are miscommunications and clashes in some part of the country, we should also understand that we are the same people in one country. We need to have a National Day that we can celebrate our common cultures, norms and historic moments, among others," he stressed.

Ensuring balanced economic development, respecting nationalities' right and responding to the grievance must be the major responsibilities of the House of Federation to bring peace and stability once and for all, Temesgen noted.

Ethiopia ought to eye at improving social justice, entertaining various interests and promoting affirmative action for the disadvantageous groups. Organizing such occasions, besides celebrating annual nationalities day, will have practical outcome as they would create opportunities for the people to discuss issues that are common to all.


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