Consultation than confrontation

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The people’s unity has been the linchpin of Ethiopia’s glorious path. Ethiopia reached the pinnacle of its civilizations and remained indomitable in the face of internal and external adversaries because of the cooperation and wisdom of its people.

Even rival rulers in Ethiopia putting their differences aside joined hands at times of distress and aggression. This was what exactly happened at the Battle of Adwa.

The Victory of Adwa is one proof that when Ethiopians are united no force can stop them. Even though the battle was between the wrongly constructed rhetoric of the civilized and the uncivilized races, Ethiopia prevailed over the invading Italian force at Adwa Mountains in 1896.

Ethiopia’s centuries-old histories are replete with the bravery and heroism of its people and time-tested unity. These precious values engrained in the DNA of Ethiopians kept the country’s sovereignty unconquered. Despite its glorious pasts, in recent times, Ethiopia has experienced problems internally.

There have been recurrent conflicts, war, and eventually famine that tainted its reputation globally. And, the country has been going through mixed trajectories of opportunities and challenges over the reform periods.

Ethiopia is now at the crossroad whether it will fix this problem or remain one of the poorest and most unstable countries in the world. There have been calls from political elites, parties, influential people, and different parts of the society for dialogue among Ethiopians.

A fact that can’t be denied or ignored is Ethiopia is a diversified nation with more than 80 ethnicities and different religions. It may be hard to generalize these are the reasons for Ethiopians’ current division but there are also ideological differences that need to be narrowed as quickly as possible. Giving ears to the call, the government is preparing a platform for national dialogue to sort out the problems and find a durable solution.

The dialogue is anticipated to lay a pathway for the nation’s aspiration of peace, democracy, and development. As for current Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, anything queries or disagreement can be put forward in the discussion and through negotiation and public referendum, final decisions can be taken.

In the meantime, commissioners that can lead and facilitate the dialogue are already been selected by the participation of people and members of the House of Peoples’ Representatives.

The selection of the commissioners is among the steps in making the dialogue inclusive and fruitful. Public figures like legendry athlete Haile Gebreselasie say there is a promising start for realizing inclusive dialogue.

He tells academic excellence, integrity, and readiness of commissioners is promising to achieve the intended result. “These people came to serve the public. I don’t think they came to serve the interest of the government. I know them personally. In life, they are well to do. We have to proceed to the real matter rather.

This has come before we wouldn’t be in such a situation. Haile stressed results could be achieved if only different segments of the community participated in the process. “Our focus shouldn’t be focused on the engagement of parties. People from different strata should be involved.

As religious leaders, community leaders, business people and influential people in communities should take part in the process.” Haile called on people, parties, or anyone who participated in the dialogue to be ready for compromise of interests and see matters with open hearts. Legendary artist Hamelmal Abate shares similar views with Haile.

She says it is time for Ethiopians to choose consultation over confrontation. “We should discuss matters before we engaged in confrontation. Consultation is vital. Even in relation, there needs to be dialogue to live peacefully.

If we had discussed we could avert damage. We should discuss before more damage is caused and eventually sit in for dialogue. There should be positivity.” Scholars are already insisting parties, responsible actors, and people participate and get benefitted from the process. Dr. Fikerete Adugna says transparent, candid, and inclusive discussion provides a durable solution to the nation’s existing problem. “Youth, women, and other marginalized people should be part of the dialogue.

Every confrontation or conflict affects them too. A dialogue that hasn’t included these parts of the community won’t be effective or succeed for a time and relapse.

That is why we need inclusive dialogue.” Dr. Fikerete says the dialogue could bring radical or transformative changes the country needs in the present time. Issues such as the flag, constitutions, and others can be solved with this dialogue.

“The dialogue could take us up to changing the constitutions like Tunisia or we may just amend or add some articles in the constitution. The point is to find what is separating us and provide a solution.”

Policy and public administration lecturer at Amhara Leadership Academy Sewagegn Asfaw also indicated the need to exploit traditional conflict resolution mechanisms. “Ethiopia has a conflict resolution mechanism that has been serving people for age long. The value of Ethiopian wisdom, tradition, and ways shouldn’t be underestimated.

They are rather very relevant in the meantime. Along with the elite discussions, elders should be given part. Religious leaders should also participate in the process. If such things are fulfilled, it is likely that the dialogue to be successful.” Board Chair of National Dialogue Commission Professor Mesfin Araya says he wants to leave a legacy by doing everything in his capacity in the process. “After this, what I am looking at is leaving a legacy.

Participating and leading the process, I want to leave a legacy that children can freely grow, youth inherit their country and there is peace. I want to do this together with my colleagues.” The Board chair is also optimistic that Ethiopians can solve their problems through dialogue and negotiation.

“If people get the chance to talk, develop their skills of listening and work closely, they can narrow basic differences. If we want to see a fair nation that treats every citizen equally, we should go through this process and someone had to take this responsibility. It is with this thought I took the duty and I think I am ready to deliver.” Professor Mesfin has a strong belief in the participation of all concerned parties especially the elderly and religious fathers to make the dialogue successful. “My hope is no one will be left behind from this discussion. Anyone concerned about the fate of Ethiopia should be part of the dialogue. Youth, women, elites, the elderly, and community leaders should be part of the process.

Cultural and religious institutions could play an irreplaceable role in the process. The elderly with ageold wisdom and tradition has contributed a great share to the sustenance of the country even in hard times. I have a strong belief that the elderly would do the same; contribute great share for Ethiopians to common understanding, united and sustaining their country in this time.” National Dialogue is among the promised priorities of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government.

In his inauguration speech, the prime minister promised to facilitate inclusive, trustworthy, and successful national dialogue.

By doing so, an internally strong, united, and peaceful nation can be realized. There is also a belief that this consensus can also catalyze development in the country.


The   3 March  2022

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