As tourists and locals describe it, Ethiopia is a beautiful country with beautiful landscape, rich history, culture and wisdom. But as the same time, it is among the poorest nations in the world with unstable politics. It is a paradox to its people and foreigners why this nation with huge resources and ancient wisdom could not become prosperous and peaceful until now.
Setting aside the finger pointing, there is common understanding among people and elites that the failure arises from resentment among political groups, different ethnic groups or class of society. Understanding the vitality of narrowing internal differences, Prime Minister Abiy’s government has accomplished various activities since he took office three years before. For instance, its first attempt dubbed “Let’s demolish the wall and build a bridge” brought exiled politicians back home and created auspicious atmosphere among the diaspora and Ethiopians in general. Government also established national reconciliation commission on 2019. Yet, a practical step that reconciles and forges national unity isn’t still in place. Concerned people, politicians and activists were making persistent call for national dialogue considering it as a mechanism of nation building and formation popular consensus.
In his inaugural speech on Monday Premier Abiy underscored the need to find a common path among all Ethiopians. “We understand it is hard to solve political problems that were doubling up through time single-handedly. We have to stand together and build synergy to face and solve these increased problems. In our part, we are ready to create participatory atmosphere that can create nation for all and to all. We want to make our political culture not to be the reflection of winners only. We will strongly work for a nation of consensus and dialogue. As we have recognized it from our history, our internal differences made us a joke to our enemies. As Oromo fathers says those who understand each other can get the door in. This means those who converse each other would find a solution.”
For this effect, his government will usher a national dialogue that would put people at center point of the dialogue and reconciliation. Political elites will also have a share in discussing and shaping of the dialogue. “The coming years would be the time we will fly high embracing our diversity, reconciling issues that can be reconciled, respect differences that deserve respect and strengthening our multi nationalism. For this to be achieved there would a national dialogue that narrows our differences. The national dialogue would involve those people who can solve problems round the table. It wouldn’t be among political elites but recognize the participation of all segments of people. The whole process would be participatory and as chaired by Ethiopian it would incorporate domestic ways of problem solving.”
Speaking to The Ethiopian Herald, some members of the diaspora welcomed government preparation to hold national dialogue. Theologian and Ethiopian Advocator Lemma Desta said national dialogue in Ethiopia should underpin three important and irreplaceable conditions: national unity, peace and justice.
“There are fundamental things we should have consensus to carry on as one strong nation. These issues should be on the table now and never been seen back again after building consensus ones. Among these will be our national Unity. We have should form firm stand on this. We Ethiopians are one despite our diversities. The second most important condition while holding the dialogue should be asserting peace. Political struggles should be carried out only through peaceful means. This is where OLF-shene and TPLF are misguided. Political power should never stem from barrel of gun or crime network. The other most important thing is ensuring justice, fair utilization of resources and distribution of wealth. If any part of the community is ignored or mistreated, it would create a problem for the whole. Therefore we should make sure everyone is benefitted equally from the system. We should see ourselves as one family. So, I am personally delighted to hear a national dialogue is going to be held. It will provide solution to current political problem as conducted the dialogue from both elite and people side.”
Lemma believed there has never been animosity or hatred among people other than competition among groups, proud of culture, border conflicts or resource conflicts. This is in mind; Lemma insisted the dialogue to focus on creating clear direction, procedure, and ways parties could climb to political power peacefully.
“I hope it would be transparent, inclusive and participatory dialogue. We had formed similar institutions so far and if we combine them with this, we would get better result.”
Another panelist, Solomon Abedom Tesfamichael (Ph.D) Researcher at Noreweign University Science and Technology faculty emphasized on the need of talk as it help to depart from previous mess. “Dialogue is imperative to restore what is ruined, to destroy what is built with ill will”
Solomon went on saying the national dialogue should avert wrong indoctrinations that divided and created disorder among people and political groups. “The prime minister in his speech hinted some of things that nation would face boldly in time to come. With the dialogue, I think we would challenge unhealthy, divisive and bad seeds being sown in the past times. There are wrong paths we been taking for some time. Some of them should be totally plucked and others should be amended. It is the minds and thoughts of people. As for me, there is a wrong in doctrinarian among the youth that needs to be challenged. This needs process. Hate and resentment should be destroyed.”
Solomon said Ethiopians needs to cut off some destructive ideologies that have been imported by veteran politicians. Those ideologies eventually divided communities and created violence.
“For instance, communist ideology does not respect idea pluralism. If anyone has different ideology, others would chase him out and kill him to kill his idea. There is only one way, one path and one truth according to this ideology. This is harsh, cursed feat would limit human freedom, creativity, and free thought. This trend needs to be plucked and we should discuss on issues.”
In addition to this, recent inclusion of individuals from opposition in government offices will also clear the path for dialogue and working together for one common goal and nation. The national dialogue is anticipated to answer critical issues and build a state peaceful within itself, strong in the face of the outside and prosperous.
BY KFLEEYESUS ABEBE
THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD OCTOBER 8/2021