Addis Abeba – A group of ten opposition political parts known as “Caucus of Opposition Parties” (CoP) issued a anonymous statement denouncing a recent study by a government-funded policy think tank, Policy Studies Institute (PSI), floating the idea on the need for constitutional reform.
Titled ‘FDRE Constitution after three decades: Inquiring into whether and what to amend’, the study paper was presented for a discussion in the capital Addis Abeba among a select group of people.
Calling the precedent “highly disturbing”, CoP said “the said research is a methodologically flawed wish list of certain quarters, and above all an untimely initiative.”
It also labeled as “unfortunate that such a lopsided paper is presented to the public at this critical juncture of our country’s history where the bloodiest war just ended and we are still in the midst of war in much of Oromia.”
The study, which majorly focused on selected provisions of the constitution related to group rights, came under criticism from various constitutional scholars and has since been a topic of online debates both among activities and media personalities.
Off the topic of constitutional provisions, the study also included a topic related to ethnic-based political parties and said overwhelming responders of the study rejected the formation of “ethnic-based” political parties.
In its statement sent to Addis Standard the CoP, which, among other parties, has as its member major opposition parties in Oromia and Somali regions, including Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) respectively, further said that “such papers are not only misleading, but can also lead our country into more chaos” as there is “very little consensus” regarding constitutional reform both among the country’s political forces and the diverse Ethiopian communities.
“…it is tailored to serve a hidden political interest of certain circles and at that contains highly deceptive findings”CoP
“It should not be forgotten that it is the “ I can do it alone” that has led the country into the endless crisis… for decades in which millions lost their lives and millions more have been displaced,” the Caucus said.
The Caucus also questioned the methodology used in the study, which asserted that 75 % of 1,123 survey respondents believed that the current constitution of Ethiopia should be changed.
“It is highly disturbing that the so-called research has been conducted with little regard for scientific objectivity, and as can be read from the methodology used as well as our own observation, it is tailored to serve a hidden political interest of certain circles and at that contains highly deceptive findings. Here, it is important to note that politicizing scientific research for narrow political interest and personal gains can easily jeopardize the foundation of our already precarious stability and the hopes for democratic transition,” the CoP said.
As opposed to pushing the agenda of a constitutional reform, the CoP urged all the concerned parties that, under the existing Ethiopian situation, “genuine national dialogue and a broad-based agreement” to be reached among the country’s political forces on the way “the future Ethiopian government is structured, as well the political system is organized.”
The Caucus also requested the ruling party and its government structures to ensure ‘the right to self-determination of the nations, nationalities and the peoples of Ethiopia’ as per the provisions in the existing constitution when treating the demands of the various peoples of the country such as the Wolaita’s quest for referendum to save the people from “unnecessary conflict and bloodshed.” AS