Parties Need to Talk

Whether it be due to the pressures from the cumulative effect of the combined pressure of the Oromia and Amhara Regional peaceful protests or the threat expected from the newly elected America president and improbable donations lurking danger, the Ethiopian government and the ruling party have invited competing parties for a political discussion.

Not everybody accepts the idea of delving into having any kind of a political roundtable talks with the ruling party. Subscribers of this thoughts give reasons to their views on two counts. The first being that the invitation was made simply to window dress actual situations on the ground for the sake of the image improvement aspect. The second count has to do with the lack of trust on the part of the ruling party intending to buy time for reasons only best known to the government.

There are, however, others who have optimistic views who hope for the best with a possibility of exposing the ruling party for its expected dramas that has already began last week. These ones have nothing to lose by giving an opportunity to the trial. At any rate, now that discussions or briefings on the invitations have already began the next step of coming to the forum with a common agenda becomes a challenge for the varied numbers of competing parties. It is also going to be working out a set of priorities and a strategic plan of approach of how to develop the roadmap for sustainable and lasting solutions to the problems of the country by selecting the critical ones in view of the little time available to realize the agreed points. It was revealed that the Election Board has once again tried its iron grip to break apart the Semayawi Party, bringing exactly the opposite reasoning with which it had split a stronger and democratically elected leadership of the Amhara Party. Perhaps the prerequisite issue could be removing the board members and replacing them by neutral bodies or by members of the popular parties.

Another prerequisite should be making the people the centre of every discussion. Like any other strategic plan some prerequisites have to be preconditions because of their nature and need to make the common agenda people-centered and feasible.

We cannot think of any common agenda like “freedom,” in the absence of the star actors who have been made to languish behind bars. In the case of Oromia, for example, people like Bekele Gerba and Dr. Merera Gudina behind bars, the most influential people in the Oromia Confederation Party cannot be expected to be viable except perhaps increasing the resentment and anger of the people whom they represent.

Therefore their release is another political prerequisite if the whole idea of a common consensus is to be reached.

As mentioned earlier on, if the objectives are to be realized as lasting and sustainable peace and tranquillity are to be achieved in the shortest possible period of time, whether it be for the sake of image building or other political motives, there are other no less important reasons to address even by the reckoning of the ruling party or the government, which in the case of Ethiopia are one and the same.

Prisoners of conscience, journalists and other innocent members are kept behind bars, some for only their ethnic identity some for being members of the youth and unavoidable nature of there being suspected as criminals just because they were reported as such. Dr. Merara and Ato Bekele are mentioned here simply because their release could contribute to the progress of the political talks to be continued next week as they play key roles in the political struggle.

The ruling party and indeed the country as a whole need peace not only to ease tensions but also to create peaceful conditions necessary to accomplish the planned projects that are necessary to augment those already half completed. The marshaling projects planned to be constructed at the sites of the dry ports are already in the pipeline. These are in Oromia where the political tensions are fragile and could explode any time after the seemingly peaceful situation.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the State of Emergency was forsighted and planned ahead. He also complains of the declining foreign currency because of the declining export markets. But his far-sighted plans that are planned to remain in force at least for six months have forgotten that this timing coincides with the prime time for the inflow of tourists with their forex. What a foresighted plan that was!

He also says that many African countries are complementing our man at the UN-connected with Ethiopia’s being bestowed with the responsibility of being elected as one of the alternative members of the U.N. Security Council shaking hands with the Ethiopian delegate for resisting opposition and proving strong as ever.

If the Prime Minister takes that kind of sheer flattery or irony as a compliment when his country is taken as among the world’s least respectful of human rights respect that is quite an unfortunate judjudgment him. But this move can only be a fact that for these people Ethiopia means only the minority in power.

In a recent revelation of the key officials in the ruling party a thorough and deep self-searching investigations made at every level of the bureaucratic machinery, it has been assessed that the culprit is nothing else other than maladministration, rent collection and corruption that can be expressed as abuse of power to use it for self-enrichment. Some political analysts argue that corruption is not about self-enrichment but also political.

They say that it has turned into a system. Political corruption has rotted the high ranking officials who scare anybody including the Prime Minister. He said that he finds no crime among high ranking officials and forgets every failure including the so-called sugar industry project and the bad loans.

He is trying to secure his safety. But the abuse remains structural. The ailment of a fish starts from its head says an old proverb. The frustration of the people at large has reached a level of on-tolerance and has already detached itself from the rotten head. The best point for the discussion should be how to make the transition a viable one or how to go about conducting a vote of confidence according to the constitution.

Incidentally the government’s decision not to heed to devaluation is very much appreciated indeed.

By Girma Feyissa

Published on Jan 31,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 874]



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