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News: Ethiopian diaspora members hold first peace conference, seek ceasefire to conflicts in Oromia and Amhara regions

The first Ethiopian Diaspora Peace Conference (Photo: Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice)

Addis Abeba – Members of the Ethiopian diaspora constituting representatives of communities from Somali, Oromo, Amhara and Tegaru have held the first Ethiopian Diaspora Peace Conference from July 21-22, 2023 at the University of San Diego’s Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice.

Subsequent to the two day conference, after discussing persistent issues with regard to peace and security, economy, and rule of law among others, the members issued a declaration consisting of 13 points, despite representatives of the Amhara diaspora community walking out of the conference in disagreement.

Read the full declaration below.
July 23, 2023
Ethiopian Diaspora Peace Conference, July 21-22, 2023

University of San Diego
The Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice

On July 21-22, 2023, the first Ethiopian Diaspora Peace Conference was held at the University of San Diego’s Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. The conference was attended by diverse Ethiopian diaspora members drawn mainly from the Somali, Oromo, Amhara, and Tigray communities. Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, Ranking member of the US House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Ambassador Mike Hammer, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa delivered keynote speeches.

After long but sober deliberations for two days, the group discussed the precarious situation in Ethiopia including but not limited to the conflicts and absence of peace in large parts of the country, pervasive economic woes, violence and safety issues in both rural and urban areas, and the ever weakening or absence of rule of law in the country.

If the situation is left unchecked, under the current ruling Prosperity Party led administration, the country could disintegrate and end up destabilizing the entire Horn of Africa region.

Although each and every community as well as the audience highlighted their particular challenges in their respective communities, the following 13 points were identified as cross-cutting issues. Representatives of Oromo, Tigray and Somali communities all agreed upon the following:

1. Seek accountability and transparency pertaining to crimes committed against civilians. The group calls for an international third party to carry out the work of human rights violations and achieve a credible transitional justice for all people of Ethiopia.

2. Implement a comprehensive ceasefire and cessation of hostilities in the country, with special attention to an immediate ceasefire with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and with Amhara regional groups.

3. Replicate the Pretoria Peace Agreement model which so far holds despite the slow implementation of its tenets.

4. Respect and implement all peace agreements including the Pretoria agreement as well as the agreement the Ethiopian Federal Government signed with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) in 2018.

5. Respect freedom of the press and the protection of journalists for both national and foreign journalists.

6. Release all political prisoners and stop targeting groups and or individuals, with special attention to political prisoners that the court has ordered their release.

7. Bring back all internally displaced people to their homes in various regions and repatriate refugees as soon as possible.

8. Demarcate the boundaries of regions by following historical and legal documents.

9. Strive to bring good governance, respect for the rule of law, and competent leadership, especially in the Somali region where conditions have steadfastly deteriorated in the last two years.

10. Implement an immediate removal of Eritrean troops out of Ethiopia, particularly out of the Tigray region as well as demanding the withdrawal of regional forces from unlawfully occupied areas of other neighboring regions.

11. Foster National Dialogue that is authentic and inclusive of all stakeholders to help chart the future of the country.

12. Distribute International aid equitably to all parts of the country.

13. Enforce targeted sanctions on the Federal Government of Ethiopia and its leaders responsible for gross human rights violations.

We thank Congresswoman Sara Jacobs who took the time to grace us with the US government’s commitment to the people of Ethiopia. We also thank Ambassador Mike Hammer and Nora Dempsey, Senior Advisor for the State Department’s Office of Engagement for the Horn of Africa Diaspora. Ambassador Hammer shared with the community the US policy towards Ethiopia which seeks to encourage democratic governance, freedom of the press, respect for human rights, and regional stability in the Horn of Africa.

The participants of the conference agreed to continue the work they started under the leadership of the Horn of Africa Community and the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice. There was also a call for making participation more inclusive with a robust outreach to all members of the various Ethiopian Diaspora communities and to other Ethiopian advocacy organizations who share similar objectives.

We regrettably note that, although the Amhara participants played a key role in both days of the conference and greatly contributed to the drafting of the 13 cross-cutting points, they decided to pull out of the meeting prior to the completion of the conference. We hope that they will continue their engagement so that peacebuilding would be pursued both as a process and as a target to be achieved with the collective action of the entire diaspora communities.

The Conference was attended by more than 120 community members and the following are the community representatives from Oromo, Somali, and Tigray communities who drafted and finalized the 13 agreed points.

1. Abdi Mohamoud

2. Esayas Hailemariam

3. Dr. Geremew Gurmessa

4. Faisal Roble

5. Mulu Tadesse

6. Sisay Negash

7. Said Aziz

8. Dr. Oli Bachie

9. Seenaa Jimjimo

10. Ibrahim Aden

11. Hafsa Mohamed

12. Feyisa Gulti

13. Almaz Fessehai

14. Dr. Namara Garbaba

15. Oli Jira

For more information, please contact Hafsa Mohamed

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