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Ethiopia gets National Reconciliation Commission legislation

National Reconciliation Commission to be accountable to the Prime Minister once it is established

National Reconciliation Commission
Ethiopian Parliament Building

December 25,2018

In its 14th regular session for the year, the Ethiopian Parliament has approved today a bill drafted to establish National Reconciliation Commission.

The idea was discussed by the council of ministers sometime in mid November of this year.

The commission is tasked to get to the bottom of grudges, political or otherwise, and come up with a recommendation for reconciliation and implement it.

The new body is made accountable to the office of the Prime Minister which generated some intense debate among parliamentarians.

Those who argued in favor of making the commission accountable to Abiy Ahmed explained their view by pointing out that the parliament has control over it for it is the same body that will appoint members of the commission. Yet, it is the prime minister that nominates members of the commission and presents them to the parliament.

EBC also reported that the commission will get legal support, and protection, so as to make it free from any form of influence.

According to a report by government media, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), members of the parliament demonstrated divergence on the issue of reconcilliation itself.

There were opposing voices in Ethiopia’s 547 seat parliament as some saw the idea of establishing National Reconciliation Commission as irrelevant on grounds that “no Ethiopian entity or entities are in conflict and hence in need of no reconciliation.”

On the other hand there were those who emphasized the idea that reconciliation is even more important than justice if the approach to it is right.

Members who could belong to the latter group went to the extent of asserting that reconciliation is good even from the point of view of the situation in the parliament- perhaps a hint about the difference between champions of what is now old system under TPLF and champions of reform, and change in Ethiopia.

Finally, the Bill passed after a vote was administered on it in the house. One Member of Parliament voted “no” and one parliamentarian abstained.

Outside of the context of debate in the parliament, the idea of truth and reconciliation, for many Ethiopians, seem to be relevant in view of what has happened in Ethiopia in the past 27 years.

Others tend to stretch back in history, and these are mostly ardent patrons of ethnic politics who seem to have politically charged interpretations of history that sees Ethiopia’s past in black and white to justify a view of ethnic repression for purposes of ethnic politics, to affirm the importance of reconciliation.

However, even ethno-nationalist parties like Oromo Democratic Party, which is governing Oromo region of Ethiopia, have revised their view of history and reached at the conclusion that there was no ethnic oppression in the history of Ethiopia – a view similar to Ethiopian revolutionaries who carried out the 1974 Ethiopian revolution which toppled the imperial government of Ethiopia.

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