This site is just used for informative information about EDEPA,

Perspective of the Ethiopianís Democratic Party

The Quest for National Reconciliation From the Perspective of the Ethiopianís Democratic Party

PRESENTED FOR DISCUSSION

1. Introduction

Although the question of National Reconciliation (NR) had occasionally been raised as a political issue even during the Derg era, it has however been catapulted to the forefront of the political agenda of the opposition since the EPRDF seized power ten years ago.

The question of NR had indeed been entertained by different political groups, notable persons and elders in the country all buy levitra Europe to solve their erection problems. Nonetheless one cannot with certainty say whether the Ethiopian people fully grasped the full meaning and parameters it entails. Except for occasional anecdotal reference to the concept, political parties in Ethiopia are yet to make in-depth analysis of the concept. Because of the absence of clear understanding of what NR entails EPRDF has subverted the meaning so as to create confusion and sow discord among the people to serve its insidious purposes.

The Ethiopians' Democratic Party (EDP) has recognized, since its initial inception, the need for NR to be a pressing matter and therefore has made it an integral part of its political program. EDP has therefore spearheaded in bringing up the subject to the forefront and invites the other political parties to undertake intensive discussion with the view to educate people on the subject.

NR has been implemented in many countries on several occasions to solve problems they have been facing. The reasons, which necessitated NR in these countries are different from those of ours. We therefore have to devise our own mechanisms for implementing NR based on the objective realities of our country and problems we are facing.

The concept of reconciliation as a mechanism for settling disputes, wars and misunderstandings are nothing new in our country. Since antiquity the various Ethiopian communities have had mechanisms for resolving conflicts to disputes involving local leaders even all the way up to the kings. Though these mechanisms have today to a large extent been pre-empted by the modern laws of the country, they nonetheless still play a significant role in settling conflicts especially in rural Ethiopia. Recent studies in fact confirm that disputes which are settled through reconciliation using traditional mechanism such as community elders by far outnumber those that have been settled through the modern courts of law. Moreover customary settlement of conflicts has the ability to erase the desire for revenge, hatred and rancor among the adversaries unlike the modern court proceedings. We have however, not been able to effectively utilize this cultural heritage to arrest the hatred that has been eating away at our society, in the process of jeopardizing our peace and retarding our development.

While we Ethiopians have for thousands of years successfully and gallantly resisted and thwarted foreign invasions and domination, we cannot however with equal pride say that we have been able to build a democratic system, which will ensure peace and progress in our country. Ethiopia has survived several civil wars, upheavals and changes of political systems. In all these upheavals we have to date only witnessed the destruction of the earlier systems by the successive one. We have yet to witness a democratic and peaceful transition from one system to the next one. The main reason for such state of affairs is the absence of a constitution, which affirms the rights of the people, establishes rule of law, and ushers in all round progress thereby giving a rise to a sustainable democratic order. The first order of agenda for EDP is therefore to answer the question, how can we bring about a peaceful and democratic order which is bound by a Constitution?

For EDP the primary issue is not to get rid of EPRDF as such. EDP is not worried about the removal of EPRDF for two reasons. The first reason is that EDP is confident that all peaceful struggles against dictatorship everywhere have resulted in the demise of these dictatorships, we have no doubt that the EPRDF will meet the same fate. Secondly, since EPRDF stands for a narrow sectarian interest and since it has neither popular base nor vision for the country, we are confident that EPRDF will fall apart from its internal contradictions. This position of EDP on this matter has been made public in different forums and the recent schism within TPLF, primus inter pares within the coalition of the EPRDF, is indicative of its vulnerability. Though it may be possible to temporarily salvage the TPLF from its recent crisis, its trouble will worsen, as the peaceful struggle by the people intensifies. However, it is the conviction of EDP that the present generation may take pride in its actions only if it can bring about a better system than the one it has discarded. Accordingly the final objective of the struggle should not necessarily be to remove EPRDF from power, rather it is to establish democracy in the country. The tenets of liberal democracy, which EDP follows, affirm this path.

One cannot with confidence at this moment say that the Ethiopian people have made the necessary preparations for establishing sustainable democratic system in the country. One cannot also be sure that enough preparations have been made to take over the country if the ruling party would crumble as a result of its recent internal crisis and the ethnic hatred, rancor and the tendency towards division which had been fostered by the ruling party. The urgent issue at the moment is to rectify these weaknesses and be ready to shoulder the responsibilities to meet these challenges. The mere removal of the ruling party will not only be meaningless but also may in fact throw the country into ethnic turmoil, dictatorship, and hatred and put the very survival of our country in jeopardy. In the opinion of EDP the Ethiopian people have two choices to truly be masters in their destiny and custodian of state power. These are embarking on NR and launching peaceful victorious popular struggle (however protracted it may be).

EDP is aware that NR is a method of struggle, which may be short and would involve less additional cost in lives and property. The other option is for the people to brace themselves the protracted struggle for erecting sustainable democratic system. Since EDP is fully cognizant of the fact that the avenue of NR is one of the two methods by which it is possible to establish a sustainable democratic system, it has embraced the protracted people's struggle as its main strategy while at the same time it has embraced NR as an additional tactic and accordingly EDP has made NR an integral part of its program.

It is inevitable that the Ethiopian people through their sacrifice will reclaim power and authority to seize these with minimal cost to lives and property it has to struggle for the creation of NR Forum and work hard for its realization. Those political parties and groups in or out of power who claim that they represent the wish of their constituents should refrain from asserting that the only avenue is that of theirs, and instead should all work for creation of NR Forum which can in a short time make the people the true custodians of the state power. The sad episode of erecting a monument for killing our own brothers in a civil war should end and instead our country should be custodian of monuments erected for peace and democracy in which the successive generation will be proud of.

Since dictators give more weight to their personal power rather than the welfare of their people, they have neither the desire nor the courage to accept a call for NR. As the Derg had rejected the overture for NR, which could have saved it from the disastrous downfall and the country from the traumatic experience, EPRDF in a similar fashion has been turning deaf ears to the call for NR.

While the above paragraphs outline the general tenure of NR in the view of EDP, the statement hereunder in its second section will highlight the need for NR. In the third section we will survey the objective of NR and the mechanisms for launching and carrying it out and EDP's view on the matter. In the fourth section we will highlight the arguments forwarded by the EPRDF for rejecting NR. In the fifth section EDP will outline its position on who should participate in the NR effort. All the other inputs which are necessary for successful NR will be considered in section six. EDP will finally have concluding remarks.

2. Current Situation which Underlines the Need for NR

In view of EDP the question of NR is neither the sharing nor the snatching of power. It is not also only a means for solving the problems created by the EPRDF in the last ten years. The objective is laying down the foundation for a system for eradicating the long-standing hatred, suspicion, fratricide, vengefulness, animosity, and peaceful and democratic transfer of power instead heretofore-violent transitions, which has become endemic in Ethiopia.

We are not invoking NR for hidden political purpose, rather it is because the objective conditions in our country cry out for NR. The current state of our country is not, as the ruling party reminds day and night where peace and tranquility prevails. Instead our country has become a place where ethnic bias, hatred, vengefulness prevail. Citizens have been herded into ethnic enclaves and ethnic and tribal interests have been given precedence over national interest. National historical symbols have been transformed into symbols of division and the sense of love and equality between the people have been replaced by hatred and suspicion. The sense of the ruler and the ruled based on ethnic identity has defined relationships, and despite lip service to democracy, the few are lording it over the many. In general it is stark clear that there is no desire to create a lasting peace in this country and the gun has remained the source of all power. The ruling party on the eve of its assumption of power invited those who had differed from it to go to the jungle to fight. It also labeled people as Red Terror perpetrators and warmongers clearly showing its unwillingness to bring about durable peace in the country. In an unprecedented move in the long history of Ethiopia the EPRDF dispersed and dismantled the defense forces built over fifty years, exposing its vindictive nature. Since EPRDF seized power ten years ago it has weakened the unity of the people by dividing into antagonistic ethnic enclaves for the purpose of divide and rule and thus hang on to power.

The political forces that have been denied opportunity for peaceful competition have been pushed into taking up the gun arguing that those who seized power through violence shall perish through violence. People who only yesterday were proud of their brotherly unity are today pushed to establish a separate identity and separate ethnic governments. The obstacles put on our Ethiopian identity is a grave danger to our survival as a nation. What is going to be the future of Ethiopia when the political program is aimed at fragmenting the country along with hair loss they tend to Buy Propecia Europe to keep long hair for the ethnic lines? The people who feel that they are oppressed by hair loss are seething with hatred and bidding for time to take revenge over those who they feel have been favored. The question for all Ethiopians of goodwill is how to avoid this impending danger.

3. The Objectives of the NR Forum and the Mechanisms for Its Application

3.1 The Objectives of the NR Forum

The objectives of the NR is not, as the rulers argue, to use it as a shortcut to seize power or to reconcile or obliterate all contradictions. On the other hand the goal of NR is to find a solution to the incessant cry of our people to peace, economic progress, and the elimination of the grinding poverty that has gripped our country. The goal is to answer the question how, as a proud people who have preserved our independence and national unity, can continue to safeguard our historical legacy and culture. The goal is how to fight and solve the internal and external contradictions that are pushing our country towards disintegration and chaos.

Though NR may be perceived differently by different groups in terms of the participants in the reconciliation effort or decision making, the basic objective of our concept of NR is to get out of the cycle of violence which has become endemic in our history and develop the culture of peaceful transfer of power. It is the belief of EDP that the NR Forum should be a forum for settling conflicts within political groups, peacefully rather than by force of arms, it should be a forum for espousing national aspirations rather than narrow parochial ethnic interests. It should be a forum for stopping the cycle of sending the victor to the palace or power and the vanquished to jail and cultivate the culture of a new and peaceful transfer of power with the view to making our country march along the route of peace and progress. In accordance with the basic objectives:

  1. Conflicts and misunderstanding should be resolved in a civilized and democratic manner. Killings, antagonisms, contempts, and enmity fostered by the former regime as well as the present one should be replaced by tolerance, mutual respect and commitment for a society where the rule of law prevails, where human rights are scrupulously observed and where democratic constitutional government rules

  2. We should refrain from wasting so much national resources and time in sabotaging each other, instead pull all our energies in the development of our country and reclaiming our national dignity which has been trampled upon by the successive Ethiopian regimes. We should strive to extricate our country and people from the degrading poverty and put our country along the path of sustainable development and peace for generations to come.

  3. We should replace the current policy of where one ethnic, religious or regional group gets the lions share of the national resources while others are relegated to second class citizenship, where one group takes charge of the national affairs while others are told it is none of their business, by one which gives equal opportunity to all Ethiopians irrespective of their ethnic or regional origin.

  4. We do not believe that the current crisis within the ruling party should spread into the other component parties within the EPRDF. The crisis may not stop as in the past where one group crushes the other. The crisis should be resolved before it may engulf the country in armed conflict.

  5. We should dedicate "a National Reconciliation Monument" for those who lost their lives within different political parties, for those who lost loved ones due to political struggles, for those who sustained physical or moral injury and as reminder to never again engage in fratricide. Such a date should be set aside as a national holiday for rededicating us and successive generations of Ethiopians for peace and progress. These are the main objectives of NR in the view of EDP.

3.2 Mechanisms of Carrying Out the NR

Two mechanisms, though not always consistently, have been proposed for establishing the NR Forum in Ethiopia. The first mechanism that has been proposed is to establish a transitional government to be constituted by all political forces in and out of the country which will eventually lead to a democratically elected Government. The Governmental mechanism, which is proposed, is to create the environment whereby all political forces will freely compete with the view of establishing a democratically elected Government.

 

The first alternative when put into practice will mean that the currently ruling party will have to abdicate power and be replaced immediately by the transitional government. The Transitional Government will then create conditions for all political parties to freely compete for power and turn over the reign of power to the government which will be elected freely in a free and fair election. The second mechanism, which will not lead directly to the establishment of transitional government, will instead require the ruling party to prepare the ground for free and fair competition between the parties in accordance with the guidelines which will be issued by the NR Forum. The ruling party will then turn over power to the party which will win the election.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS

While the first option is a better means of enforcing the provisions of the Charter of the NR, the second one may nontheless have a better chance of success. This is because there is a good chance of reaching an agreement between the ruling party and the opposition. What measurements could we use to gauge which of the options will be more acceptable to the ruling party? This question is important because it is the ruling party, which often has various means of either frustrating or making the NR program successful. In the opinion of EDP both options can be successful provided the ruling party has the political will to abide by the terms of the Reconciliation Charter and embrace peaceful transition of power. In the opinion of EDP the important thing is not to snatch power from one party or establish coalition government, rather it is to muster political will to solve the problems of our country peacefully and either of the options mentioned above can lead us in that direction. This kind of behavior will eliminate the untenable and extremist belief of some opposition parties and the ruling party who maintain that the only legitimate source of power is the gun.

(To be continued next week)

 

 (c) 2013. All Rights Reserved.