Addis Abeba – The Coalition for Ethiopia’s Endurance (CfEE) recalls its peace agenda released for public discussion and debate. Its convictions that the agenda promotes a pathway for resolving the political crisis, brings the war to an end and charts a way for sustainable peace remains strong. We appreciate the public’s overwhelmingly constructive and critical responses on the peace agenda through the various media platforms. However, we are hard-pressed to find feedbacks and contributions that fundamentally alter the content of the peace agenda. We have thus decided to keep the content of the peace agenda in its current form and leave it open for further debate and contributions from members of the public.
Be this as it may, we have assessed the “national dialogue” plan proposed by the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) and its implications on the peace agenda we have proposed and its prospect for peace. We recognize the Prosperity Party’s (PP) initiative in accepting the need for national dialogue despite it reluctance to do so for far too long. We do appreciate that the Prime Minister has began speaking of the importance of dialogue for peace, albeit rhetorically. Nonetheless, the process of “national dialogue” in motion by the Government suffers from fundamental inadequacies. Hence our consensus is that it cannot resolve the country’s political crisis durably.
The essence of the call for national dialogue is to see through the end of the ongoing civil war. It is indispensable to achieve a ceasefire agreement between the warring parties as a precondition for dialogue. The Government is not taking meaningful steps towards this end. It is all but sincere about dialogue for peace, inclusive of the warring forces that ought to be part of the solution. It is hellbent on its futile attempt to create “peace” through “dialogue” with like-minded political forces that share its worldviews.
“The “national dialogue” that remains not inclusive of all parties in the conflict exposes the Government’s reluctance to bring national consensus on fundamental yet polarizing issues.”CfEE
Genuine dialogue should occur among contending parties that could decide – through talks – on the modalities of dialogue and negotiations, define its purpose and goals, and agree on who should participate. In sharp contrast to this convention, the Government has declared its intention to undertake a “national dialogue” process steered by its structures and overlooked by its officials. The Prosperity Party (PP), which claims legitimacy as a democratically elected government but disown the atrocities committed over the last 30 years, attempts to dodge calls for transitional justice and challenges to its legitimacy to govern. A recent document the party released makes it evident that the incumbent has no intention to include constitutional issues for negotiations in the national dialogue that is in motion.
The “national dialogue” that remains not inclusive of all parties in the conflict exposes the Government’s reluctance to bring national consensus on fundamental yet polarizing issues. More so, the list of candidates shortlisted to serve in the commission for the national dialogue are individuals known to be close to the Prime Minister who have been ardent supporters of the war. The selection process was controlled and undertaken by senior government officials, affirming that it was not an independent and impartial process. The absence of inclusivity in the selection process renders it irrelevant to comment on the merits of the individuals shortlisted.
These essential issues have led several opposition political parties and members of the public to see the Government’s attempt to undertake “national dialogue” in suspicion and oppose it.
“[The government] is hellbent on its futile attempt to create “peace” through “dialogue” with like-minded political forces that share its worldviews.“CfEE
Ethiopia is at existential risk. A dialogue and negotiation process meant to address such risks should bring a lasting solution. The opportunity to do so should not be missed and squandered. Attempts to undermine genuine dialogue and negotiations for durable peace only to serve individual or collective partisan agendas are nothing but crimes committed against the country and its people. The successful outcome of a national dialogue is as good as the quality and inclusivity of its process. It should be undertaken in a genuine, sincere manner and in good faith.
The Government’s current drive for “national dialogue”, exercising complete control over the process, with determination to ensure self-preservation, may have a propaganda value and achieve a transient diplomatic triumph. But it will not fundamentally address the country’s more profound political crisis. Populist maneuverings and ill-fated exercises in self-preservation can no longer serve as vehicles to keep the country together. It is essential to recognize that the lone attempt of the Prosperity Party (PP) will achieve no lasting solution. It is a party that has been in political power for over the past 30 years with a record of squandering too many opportunities. Its leaders have to demonstrate their determination to concede political power should the outcome of genuine national dialogue warrants as such.
The peace agenda forwarded by our Coalition emphasizes three basic but integrated processes to achieve a durable peace. To agree on a ceasefire, start genuine national dialogue and negotiations and launch a transitional process are indispensable to chart the future with promise. Cherry-picking one while ignoring negotiations and transitional arrangements in favor of superficial national dialogue can only deepen the depth of our turmoil.
We thus call upon the Government to desist from pursuing its current attempts and begin a genuine process for inclusive national dialogue and negotiations in full consideration of the three fundamental issues we proposed in our agenda for peace. AS
Editor’s Note: Coalition for Ethiopia’s Endurance is a coalition established by a group of Ethiopians living abroad including Lidetu Ayalew, Founder and leader of the opposition Ethiopian Democratic Party (E.D.P); Tamrat Layne, who was Prime Minister of Ethiopia during the Transitional Government of Ethiopia between 1991 – 1994; and Yared Tibebu, one of the founders of Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (E.P.D.M), the predecessor of Amhara Nationals Democratic Movement (A.N.D.M), which was one of the four major parties that made up the now defunct Ethiopian People’s Democratic Front (E.P.R.D.F).