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News: Over 60 Oromo organizations call for a credible and inclusive national dialogue, neutral convener

List of signatories

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Addis Abeba – A total of 63 worldwide Oromo Civic, Professional, Advocacy, Human Rights, and Community organizations today released a joint statement regarding the establishment of a National Dialogue Commission (NDC) in Ethiopia and calling for careful sequencing to ensure credible and all- inclusive national dialogue facilitated by a neutral convener. The statement is the first such joint statement issued by large number of worldwide Oromo civic organizations echoing concerns in unison about the lack of proper sequencing, impartiality and transparency with Ethiopia’s planned national dialogue commission. 

The House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) enacted a proclamation establishing the National Dialogue Commission (NDC) on December 29 last year. The HoPR said that the NDC would embark on facilitating national dialogue to bring about lasting solutions to Ethiopia’s problems. The house also announced that the public will nominate candidates for commissioners of the NDC and their appointment shall be approved by the HoPR. The selection process is expected to come to an end on 23 January.

However, the 63 worldwide Oromo civic organizations issued a consensus statement recommending the careful sequencing of steps to be taken before commencement of an inclusive dialogue in Ethiopia. The statement outlines important steps to be taken before the commencement of an all-inclusive.

Accordingly the statement recommends cessation of hostilities and comprehensive ceasefire between all armed groups in the country and the government should be ensured before inclusive dialogue began, followed by unconditional and unimpeded provision of humanitarian assistance, the release of all political detainees, as well as the withdrawal of foreign forces especially Eritrean security and intelligence forces from Ethiopia “to pave the way for all countries in the region and Ethiopia’s bilateral partners to play a constructive role in ending the humanitarian siege and ongoing civil wars.”

“A careful sequencing of the various stages and elements of the national dialogue process to build confidence and create a conducive peaceful environment for a genuine consultative process. This would require the government to open up the political space in Oromia and beyond in order to accommodate free media, grassroots discussions, and deliberations with all citizens. To this end, we reiterate our call for broader and proactive consultation with all stakeholders on the venue, timetable, convener, pace, conduct, coverage and implementation of agreements reached among parties to the deliberations,” the joint statement reads.

Full Statement

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Statement by worldwide Oromo Civic, Professional, Advocacy, Human Rights, and Community organizations regarding the establishment of a National Dialogue Commission (NDC) in Ethiopia

January 21, 2022

We, the undersigned organizations, are closely following the preparations by the government of Ethiopia to launch a national dialogue process to facilitate consultations among various stakeholders on fundamental national issues.

The government has unilaterally adopted the proclamation establishing a Commission for National Dialogue with unclear parameters. It is currently in the process of selecting Commissioners to lead the NDC without transparent procedures and adequate consultations with key stakeholders and supporters.

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While we welcome the release of a few political prisoners, we note that many thousands remain in detention. We hope that this initial move indicates that the ruling party intends to release all remaining political prisoners and is willing to participate in deliberations in good faith.

However, the Ethiopian government is not an impartial, independent body positioned to establish a commission capable of serving as a neutral convener, an essential requisite for a successful inclusive national dialogue.

Therefore, reiterating our August 18, 2021 statement, which called for a comprehensive ceasefire and inclusive dialogue to chart a peaceful path for resolving the country’s multifaceted political crises, the signatories below make the following key recommendations:

  1. Immediate cessation of hostilities followed by comprehensive ceasefire agreements between the federal government forces and all armed groups in Oromia, Tigray, Benishangul Gumuz, Amhara, and Afar regional states to create a conducive environment for an all-inclusive political dialogue.
  2. Unconditional and unimpeded provision of humanitarian assistance, including food and medicine, to all communities affected by conflict—now met with drought-induced starvation—and the re-establishment of vital services, including banking, telecom, transportation, and electricity, to millions of Ethiopians in Oromia, Tigray, Benishangul Gumuz, Afar, Amhara, and Somali regional states.
  3. Immediate and unconditional release of all remaining political detainees, including leaders of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF); its Chairman, who has been under house arrest since May 2021; thousands of Oromo youth in detention centers and all other detainees incarcerated in the ethnically-targeted crackdown under the state of emergency.
  4. The withdrawal of all foreign forces from Ethiopia, particularly Eritrean security, military, and intelligence units to pave the way for all countries in the region and Ethiopia’s bilateral partners to play a constructive role in ending the humanitarian siege and ongoing civil wars.
  5. The commencement of an independent, impartial commission to facilitate an all-inclusive, participatory, and transparent national dialogue overseen by conveners who are acceptable to all stakeholders. We call upon the international community to extend its support to such a nonpartisan body and process because the government sponsored NDC cannot credibly shoulder the important and historic responsibility.
  6. A careful sequencing of the various stages and elements of the national dialogue process to build confidence and create a conducive environment for a genuine consultative process. This would require the government to open up the political space in Oromia and beyond in order to accommodate free media, grassroots discussions, and deliberations with all citizens. To this end, we reiterate our call for broader and proactive consultation with all stakeholders on the
    venue, timetable, convener, pace, conduct, coverage and implementation of agreements reached among parties to the deliberations.

We, the undersigned groups of worldwide Oromo Civic, Professional, Advocacy, Human Rights, and Community organizations , therefore urge the government and all stakeholders in Ethiopia, as well as the international community, including the United Nations, United States, China, the European Union and its member states, the African Union and its member states, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Iran to take the appropriate steps to ensure a halt to hostilities in all regions of Ethiopia and also ensure that the dialogue process is impartial, inclusive and participatory. Dispatch

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