News: Ruling Party reiterates inclusive dialogue wont include ‘terrorist’ groups

From left: Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Pm Abiy and DPM Demeke are President and Deputy President of the ruling Prosperity Party. Picture: PM Abiy/Facebook

Addis Abeba – In a statement it released today, the ruling Prosperity Party (PP) said Ethiopia’s planned national dialogue is aimed at and considering the establishment of consensus between the people of Ethiopia.

The party recalled it has already stated that the planned inclusive national dialogue does not mean negotiating with groups that were “designated as terrorist by the parliament,” the statement said.

On May 05 by the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) designated the T.P.L.F and Shene (a term the government uses to refer to the armed group Oromo Liberation Army – OLA) as terrorist groups. The Parliament’s decision followed a decision on May 01 by the Council of Ministers which approved the resolution to designate the groups as terrorist organizations. The decision has further compounded possibilities of pace talks to end the ongoing civil war in Ethiopia.

However, the international community has been asking the Ethiopian government to lift these designations in order to pave the way for peaceful resolution of Ethiopia’s 15 month civil war. During the UNSC open briefing on Tigray held on August 26 last year, SC member states commonly known as A-3+1 said Ethiopia’s incoming parliament “should prepare to lift” terrorist designation of “armed actors” to allow for direct contact and negotiation with armed actors opposing the government.

In its statement today, the ruling Prosperity Party further said that one of the reasons for the creation of an inclusive national dialogue was to ensure peaceful and prosperous nation by replacing divisive ideas by constructive and reconciling ideas to enable to society to reach at national consensus on key national issues including the constitution and the national flag, among others.

PP also said that since its leadership came to power, it has been working with various stakeholders to create a national dialogue forum. “As a governing party, PP has long argued, including at the level of the Joint Council of Political Parties Joint Council and with various civic associations,that inclusive national dialogue is very important for our country,” the statement said.

Therefore, if this inclusive national dialogue “can be carried out as planned and the people can provide the necessary support to it, major challenges can be addressed and it will further strengthen the unity of Ethiopians by creating a national consensus on fundamental issues.”

The latest statement from the ruling party adds up to growing differences within various political parties in the country on the said national dialogue.

On 14 February, Ethiopian Political Parties Joint Council (EPPJC), a coalition of more than 53 legally registered political parties in Ethiopia including the ruling PP, has issued a statement today requesting the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) to “temporarily halt” the ongoing proceedings to select the eleven commissioners to lead the planned National Dialogue Commission (NDC). It requested the parliament to resume the process in an “inclusive and trustworthy” manner.

EPPJC’s statement was issued in the backdrop of the a statement by the Parliament announcing a shortlist of 42 people who it said were nominated by the public to lead the Dialogue Commission.

Already, three main opposition parties: Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) issued a statement saying the process of the nomination of Commissioners was not impartial [OFC], was unknown [OLF] and lacked representation [ONLF].

Prior to the release of their statement, the three parties have also declined to join a meeting called by Speaker of the Parliament, Tagesse Chafo, to discuss on the list of nominees. AS

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