Addressing age-long challenges via national dialogue


Sadly, conflict, war, and subsequent revolutions are still among things Ethiopia being described with. Such happenings dented its name and shadowed its glorious history and natural endowment. The reoccurrence of these things has been hampering its pursuit of peace and development.

Even worse, the country went through years of divisive rhetoric the pushed the country to the brink of disintegration on the watch of the terrorist TPLF regime. Clearly, some of the major setbacks facing the country presently go back to previous wrong narratives that eroded the scared values of the nation.

Concerned Ethiopians haven’t just sat while these problems are piling up. They have made different attempts to alleviate this problem. Many of them have been calling for strengthening democratic culture and building democratic institutions. But before all these, they point their finger at the need for national dialogue and national consensus. One among many, poet and author Bedlu Wakjira indicates the vitality of enriching common values to build unity among people and solve issues that are dividing people and causing conflicts.

Bedlu says, in the upcoming national dialogue, it is relevant for the dialogue to focus on pertinent issues avoiding trivial and unhealthy arguments. Values such as compromise, integrity, and wisdom are pivotal for the national dialogue to succeed. Exemplifying South Africa and Rwanda, the author emphasizes candid national dialogues could be ever-lasting solutions to Ethiopia’s current situation.

For many though, unlike previous sham attempts, the planned national dialogue is meant to bring real impacts in the country’s future wellbeing. The dialogue is also expected to table all public queries without pressure from external influences and government interventions.

So far, the dialogue is undergoing a democratic and independent process. In fact, the public is the primary driving force to make it more sound and acceptable among all. This helps to bring each and every voice to the national platform. The dialogue is receiving public acceptance and many are pinning hope on it to cement Ethiopia’s democratic path and prosperity.

Head of Public and International Relations at the Center for Democracy Building Dr. Bikila Hurisa underlines the necessity of national consensus in the formation of a strong state. In his detailed interview with Ethiopian Press Agency (EPA), Dr. Bikila express his conviction that Ethiopians can build consensus and unity about the state in the upcoming national dialogues despite  they have differences in ethnic background, religion, or ideology.

Dr. Bikila believes that it is time for Ethiopia to give chance for discussion and avoid conflict or war by addressing the root causes of the problem. He has confidence that Ethiopians have a long tradition, experience, and value that can solve problems emanated from the nature of its politics or the process of building this ancient state. He, therefore, gave prime attention as the national dialogue would be different from the previous as it isn’t a conversation among elites but involve different segments of the population.

As for him, the dialogue will identify and celebrate the good inheritance from its long history while it corrects and amends mistakes that are haunting the nation or stand in its way of peace, prosperity, and democracy. It will also help forecast future challenges and put in place a system that can solve any dispute or conflict peacefully. Achieving National Consensus through national dialogue, as Dr. Bikila puts it, is very timely to bring back peace, and reassess political, social, and economic woes.

While sharing much of Dr. Bikila’s views, State Minister at Labor & Skill Ministry Dr. Beker Beshale points out on the need of an independent negotiator or facilitator who can impartially, effectively, and efficiently lead the process.

Dr. Beker reiterates Ethiopians that who are already linked by many things and bind together by marriage should stop killing each other for trivial things. Narratives and historical disagreements caused the country to stay in conflict for quite a long time, he says. However, the issues can be dealt on the table without the need of spitting blood. The discussion as Dr. Beker highlights give an opportunity to assess ourselves as a nation and establish a solution. If everyone is ready to converse from the heart, there is a chance to solve the narrative and disagreements that have been pulling the country back for so long. Dr. Beker also says the dialogue is crucial for Ethiopians to get aside differences and focus on eradicating poverty that is grappling everyone in the country.

Parliamentarian Gelesa Delebo says building national consensus by identifying and addressing problems through dialogue will build a strong nation as it increases citizens’ patriotic feelings. Gelesa indicates the inclusion of all actors such as politicians,  civic associations, public figures, elders, religious fathers, and others will make the process trustworthy and accepted by people at different levels or divisions. He also urges scholars to contribute share by presenting their researches and draft resolutions.

Opposition parties also share similar views on the role of national dialogue to build national consensus and solve major issues and political resentments piled up for the past three decades. Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice Party Chairman Yeshiwas Assefa says the general agreement on the necessity of national dialogue itself is a step forward.

The national dialogue will be significant accomplishments even more than the national election, Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or government formation. Yeshiwas says there are piled-up socio-economic and political issues that were rolled up not just for the past three years for three decades. These issues can be solved not by election alone. These issues should be brought to the table and discussed by different segments of the people and political actors.

He expects discussions if not change on constitutional amendment, administrative region formation, national flag, and other political issues. For this to happen in a constructive manner, he urges the government to be keen and open on the process of identifying major agenda, participants, and facilitators. He also called every actor to be ready and accept the decision of the public.

The people will finally be the ones to decide, he stressed. As to him, his party ECSJ is all ready to contribute share for the success of the national dialogue. Yeshiwas underscored the need to detach from destructive ways such as taking up arms. But to sit together and sort out problems will benefit the nation in all areas.

“We have our ideas and resolution to suggest but we are ready to listen what others say. All powers should renounce violence and come to the table. There is nothing that can’t be solved by discussion. In the dialogue, all ideas should be represented forwarded without restriant. We should be committed to solving our problems peacefully.”

Therefore, activists, politicians, and other segments of the society are in common understanding on the need of national dialogue for the nation to detach from poverty and conflict that it is currently being characterized. For the national dialogue to be successful, however, every citizen especially important actors should be ready to engage in a constructive manner. The politicians hoped the dialogue to be candid, structured, and inclusive. The government, on the other hand, claims it is doing all it can to make the dialogue productive.

The January 12/2022

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