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HomeNewsEthiopia : Dialogue Commission wants gov't to create "enabling condition" 

Ethiopia : Dialogue Commission wants gov’t to create “enabling condition” 

Dialogue Commission _ Ethiopian News
Professor Mesfin Araya, Chief of the Dialogue Commission (Photo credit : DW Amharic)

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Toronto – The National Dialogue Commission on Thursday presented its performance report to the parliament. 

Unusual about it was that this meeting took place in a hotel, not at the parliament building. The practice of using hotels for public events has become very common in the past few years. In fact, the hotel that the National Dialogue Committee used on Friday – Skylight Hotel – government owned. 

Chair of the Commission, Professor Mesfin Araya, highlighted what the commission has been doing over the past one year. It was said identification of participants and agenda item collection work has been completed except in Amhara and Tigray regions. 

He described the process as “tiresome, resource consuming and exemplary with which many things can be accomplished.” Regarding the time needed to the process, he said that “We[commissioners?] have understood that it is not something that can be done hastily.” 

The Chief Commissioner also talked about the challenges that the commission has been experiencing in the course of its work. Ongoing conflict (in the Amhara region) and questions about the neutrality of the commission are among them.  

He mentioned that there are political organizations and other entities that withdraw from the process on grounds of neutrality. Major Ethiopian political parties withdraw from the process expressing concern that the ruling party has influence and lack of inclusiveness in the process.  

Oromo Federalist Congress, EPRP and Enat Party – are some of the major parties that withdrew from the process.  Opposition voices allege that participant identification is dominated by the ruling party cadres. When the commission completes its work, it will be the parliament that will approve it but over 95 percent of the parliamentarians are from the ruling party meaning the ruling power has the power to accept or reject the findings and/recommendations of the Dialogue Commissions.  But the commissioner says six parties that withdrew from the process signed an agreement with the commission in the past three weeks.  

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attended the opening event of agenda collection event in Addis Ababa earlier this month and he said “there will be no transitional government in Ethiopia any more.” Many understood that even if the National Dialogue recommends the formation of the transitional government, the ruling party will not accept it. 

The Chief Commissioner emphasized the need on the part of the government to create enabling conditions. 

“If this dialogue is to be correctly a success, again I ask this government in the name of my commissioners the question to create enabling conditions. I will ask the same question in the future too,” he said. 

With key players from opposition and civic organizations outside of the process, there is noticeable  skepticism if the commission would resolve Ethiopia’s problem. Some argue, a desirable outcome can come from a process that is not inclusive enough and one that is dominated by the ruling party. Abiy Ahmed has been warning, the national dialogue is “Ethiopia’s chance. Let us use it.”   

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