To Share is Powerful

The negotiations with opposition parties were said to be taking place a little while ago. However, since this very interesting development, there has not been much news or information on the progress of the round table discussions. No details have emerged and it seems the matter is being stalled for some reason.

Since the ruling party has entered into talks with opposition leaders it seemed either the end of the road or the start of something new for the country. If there could not be some kind of undertaking of political commitments to set up priorities at this point in time, the uphill battle could be insurmountable. It is time for the talks to progress and turn into something tangible for the public to see.

At a time when the country is on the brink of a severe drought which can affect almost 5.6 million people, including many women and children there is no time to waste. People are waiting, hoping that the political problems will find adequate solutions.

For the ruling party to be open to be advised by members of competing parties is commendable and a big step. But it is rather important not to take too much time on the process or preconditions before the talks.

The delay in talks with oppositions is shrouded in scepticism, there is no clear reason or factor that has been put forward by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn or his cabinet. There is just no urgency to handle the issue on time.

Buying time seems to be the strategy in play. Keeping the ball rolling while there is not much action going on.

Beyene Petros, president of the Ethiopian Federal Democratic Unity Forum (Medrek) and professor of biology at Addis Abeba University has expressed his readiness to work together with other members of political parties to carry out the talks. Medrek itself, is a conglomeration of at least six or so competing parties comprising of experienced political scholars and professors.

The main issues or the essence of the discussions is not yet known or agreed upon. At the time of writing this article some kind of a compromise may have been reached. If that is so it is more than welcome. If, however, that may not be the case, interparty connections could be established. At least they could jointly set priorities to the satisfaction of the public at large. It could start by making it clear that all the background influences concerning all parties may be focused on issues around power sharing.

The concept of power sharing is not new to African politics. Some states have implemented it as a way of staying in power. It has become more popular in the past two decades. Using power sharing as a tool to resolve conflict has increased in the developing world, some countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, and Rwanda have implemented this progressive strategy.

The problem of power sharing is that it clearly denies parties to go off track or have any real influence. As it is practiced in other nations, it may be agreeable to form a union of common interest. There could be differences among the competing parties but setting priorities by all the member on the round table talks can lead to a successful outcome.

Other negotiations could have their own issues to sort out as top priority. But this cannot be a good enough start to curb the time that is being wasted unnecessarily without taking any action.

This is not an issue of competing among the parties for better acknowledgement. In a country where there are more than 80 different ethnic nationalities such differences are to be expected. That is the point where the struggle to develop a democratic society occurs. Democracy is after all nothing more than the ability to come together despite differences.

As the discussions develop and grow to nurture more than one or two competing parties there will be time to form some kind of a compromise. To have as many parties as possible represented as long as they can have a common issue to set out priorities like power sharing is important.

If that where the case, issues such as winning 100pc of the seats in Parliament would not be acceptable. This scenario was once a laughing matter after the last elections in the country.

Even the decree of the state of emergency would not have materialized. According to the Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, around 82pc of the public are looking forward to the ban continuing for another term.

Taking such drastic measures such as imposing a state of emergency for six months and even extending it due to fears of another uprising should not be the norm. The issues should be taken to the round table as soon as possible.

By Girma Feyissa

Published on Apr 01,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 882]



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