10 June 2018

Ethiopia: Pardon Relieves Burden

ODF leaders at bole International Air port

The recent government's pardoning and dropping of charges of notable figures and inviting previously outlawed political groups would have positive impact in the economic and political development of the nation, despite some concerns, according to scholars.

Civil Service University Lecturer, Haileab Negash speaks to The Ethiopian Herald that the government's willingness in releasing known figures and inviting groups which were labeled as terrorists would have massive role in widening political scope, sustaining peace and stability and ensuring national consensus.

He adds that forgiveness has been the good culture of Ethiopians and the recent pardoning would have huge importance in creating understanding and consensus among Ethiopians.

"The recent pardon and dropping of charges would transform our nation's infant democracy to the next level. It could bring Ethiopians together to pursue their common interest," he says, adding "the government and the opposition should develop the culture of tolerance and they should realize ideological difference should not be an obstacle for our country's rapid economic growth."

Andargachew Tsegie was arrested on 23 June 2014 by the Ethiopian government in collaboration with the Yemeni security forces for being executive member of the outlawed Ginbot 7. However, the Federal Attorney General has offered him pardon as the government's plan to create new chapter of national consensus and understanding.

Besides, Haileab stresses that the release of political figures like Andargachew would signify the government's commitment to ease burden of jailing such groups.

"The right groups and our development partners were campaigning for releasing individuals who were labeled as terrorists. Now everyone is freed. We will see what they would say about this good move," he notes.

Moreover, inviting opposition parties to practice their political activity peacefully and democratically will be another millstone in the political history of the nation, according to him.

"The government is endeavoring a lot in widening political scope. Previously outlawed groups like Oromo Democratic Front (ODF) have agreed to undertake their political participation peacefully. This should be lauded as encouraging step towards strong democratization."

Besides, ODF Chairperson Lencho Leta insists that the wind of hope is blowing across the nation and this initiated him to come home and involve in social, economic and political development of his country.

"Our part was among those which instituted the federal system. We came back to be part of the ever growing economy and democratization process of our country."

Political Science and International Relations Lecturer at Aksum University, Kahsay Gebrehiwot for his part underlines that beyond pardoning prisoners, the government should work its homework.

"The country was in political unrest for almost three years. Many people were jailed being involved in the destructive protest. However, the ruling party (EPRDF) has identified the causes of the unrest and started to take drastic measures," he continues, "in addition to offering pardon for prisoners, the government should design system which could ensure transparency and accountability. It should be noted that lack of good governance, corruption, unemployment and poverty have been caused the unrest and internal and external elements has hijacked the legitimate public grievances for their advantage"

He insists that pardoning and dropping charges of notable figures would speed up the economic growth of the nation.

Daniel Gizachew, Law Post Graduate student at Addis Ababa University on the other hand is not convinced with releasing all people who have been convicted of terrorism, murder corruption and other malpractices.

"Of course granting pardon is good. But to whom are we supposed to do it? Does the pardon bring the intended goal? We have to think about these," he argues. He has concerns that it could jeopardize the supremacy of law.

"In my opinion, this would go against the supremacy of law. It looks as if regime change has happened. The constitution should be respected first before we aim at enhancing national consensus. The constitution governs all Ethiopians despite their political, economic and ethnic background. Everyone is below the constitution that was ratified by the nations, nationalities and peoples of the country."

According to Daniel firm guideline should be designed which could give clear direction on who should be offered pardon and who should not.

However, he is hopeful in that the recent moves would ease unrests and disturbances which have been affecting the country for the last three years.

"The measures which are being taken would be for good. But to make the rule of law respected, we have to have clear law on pardon," he emphasized.

After Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power replacing Hailemariam Desalgen 60 days ago, many achievements have been gained--release of top political figures being one among these. If the current opportunity could properly be used by the government and competing parties, and the public in general, sustainable peace, harmony and mutual understanding is sure to prevail.


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