23 February 2018

Ethiopia: Headway to Durable Peace


The unrest in some parts of Oromia and Amhara states had predisposed citizens' right to free movement on grave danger, brought existential threat on the age-long unity of the people while turning public and private property to ashes.

With a view to protect public security, law and order, the Council of Ministers on February 16, 2018 issued a six-month State of Emergency (SoE). Pertinent stakeholders comment as the SoE is a solution in containing further havoc while stressing that the period should serve to devise far-sighted mechanism to make sure problems are irreversible.

The Constitution's Article 93 sub-article 1 (a) stipulates: "The Council of Ministers shall have the power to decree an SoE, should an external invasion, a breakdown of law and order which endangers the Constitutional order and which cannot be controlled by the regular law enforcement agencies and personnel, a natural disaster, or an epidemic occur."

Needless to say, the SoE cannot in itself be the ultimate solution to maintain durable peace and stability, says Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) Party Chairperson Tigistu Awolu, in an interview with The Ethiopian Herald.

But he has not shied away from mentioning the decree's purpose in temporarily relieving the country from the unrest and in restoring law and order.

"As leader of a political party and as citizen, I want peace to prevail. Destruction will further worsen problems."

For him, restoring peace in restive places is not only the task of government but it is also the responsibility of every citizen, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), opposition parties, political experts, media, scholars, youths, women as well as religious leaders and elders, among other.

Particularly the media have to facilitate conditions for dialogue among the various segments of the community more than ever before, he underlines.

The government also ought to organize platform to help the youths express their grievances openly and in a democratic manner, he adds.

"I feel that there is also a need to set up a national institution dedicated to promote national consensus and cultivate peace and stability."

This would help to bring about national consensus and cultivate peace and stability, he suggests.

Tigistu adds that such institution will proactively lubricate communication before components wear out and the whole state machinery lies prone to risks.

To be succinct on the issue, the SoE curtail loss of lives and destruction of property, indicates All Ethiopians National Party (AENP) Chairperson Lij Mesfin Shiferaw.

Investors have to carry out their jobs, tourists have to keep flowing in and citizens have to lead their day-to-day activities peacefully, he explains.

"But political dialogue among pertinent bodies will take the country through the path of unity, peace and development," he notes

He builds on what has been said above as he comments that frank and candid discussions among the various segments of the community is crucial sooner than later.

Dr. Samuel Tefera, Associate Dean for Research and Technology Transfer with the Addis Ababa University, adds that the youths particularly at universities should cultivate a culture of debate to trigger informed opinion on various issues.

To him, though demanding one's rights is legal, the presentation so far made it problematic, meaning damaging your own property cannot bring any improvement.

In my view, it has no harmful to persistently struggle for the improvement of governance in general, but it should be compounded with civility and patience, he comments.

The media, academia and other stakeholders should also embolden such trend. "All should promote plurality of opinions."

Dr. Samuel goes to say that members of the academia in particular have responsibility to show empirical ways which lead to sustainable peace.

Government Communication Affairs Office Head Dr. Negeri Lencho makes clear the SoE has been declared to halt the havoc. "It has nothing to do with banning the demands of the youths."

The government has responsibility of clearing barricades that hamper the ongoing economic and democratic moves, he states, firmly indicating as the situation at some places over the past weeks had undermined public security.

The SoE may not last six months or may get extended after the conclusion of the six-month period based on the situation on the ground, he says, casting strong hope in that the people and the government would do everything at their disposal for lasting peace to prevail.


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