No hope for constitutional reform in Ethiopia
borkena, Ethiopian News
Ethiopian government announced agreed upon agenda for what it calls “negotiation” with opposition parties.
Dialogue with selected opposition parties in Ethiopia, which was started following popular protest which claimed the lives of thousands of Ethiopians, to identify agreed upon agenda for “negotiation.” As it turns out, any hopes for constitutional reform is dashed.
“After exchanging views on postponed draft agenda, parties identified and agreed upon agenda for negotiation,” wrote pro-government media outlet – Fana.
From the outset, critical observers and analysts have questioned the relevance of the negotiation process. What was questioned was whether it will bring about a positive result in terms of creating genuine political space that will allow opposition parties to function without fear of persecution.
If the outcome of the process whereby the ruling TPLF/EPRDF party and opposition parties selected agenda item for negotiation is to be a measure of significance, among other things, it is clear that the negotiation is simply ritualistic. It could rather give a little face saving legitimacy for the ruling party in the face of the international community, which is tacitly supporting the regime anyways.
What agenda are accepted by the ruling party?
An agreement is reached to make Election law and election process related matters to make part of the agenda for negotiation. In that regards, political parties ethical regulations are expected to be raised during the discussion.
In terms of revising statutes and laws, anti-terrorism legislation, mass media and freedom of expression, charity and charitable association laws, Tax laws and land lease laws are selected as agenda items for the “negotiation.”
In relation to democratic rights and human rights institution structures, the rights of citizens to work in any parts of Ethiopia, national reconciliation, economic demands of citizens, structures of the justice system and implementations of legislation are included as items of negotiation.
How ready is the ruling party to make notable changes even in the areas agreed as an agenda item is something that remains to be seen. But it has to be noted that the ruling party has no history of being a credible negotiating party.
Agenda rejected by the ruling party
TPLF/EPRDF government rejected proposals to make constitutional reforms agenda items in relation to articles 39, 46 and 72 in addition to casting aside opposition party’s effort to make Ethiopia’s territorial boundary an agenda item. The ruling government is widely accused of handing over Ethiopia’s territory to Sudan’s Al-Bashir government as a cost of keeping Al-Bashir government an ally to the ruling TPLF party.
Also, the regime rejected “negotiation” on political prisoners and prisoners of conscience as it asserts there are no political prisoners or prisoners of conscience but convicts.
Human Rights organisations have issued numerous statements calling for the release of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
Ethiopia is still under extended state of emergency rule.
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