Public agenda setting role core to successful Nat’l Dialogue: Scholar

 During the course of a given national dialogue, bringing lasting solutions and reaching a national consensus revolve around a bottom-up approach, according to a scholar, adding that the general public are expected to be active in setting the agendas for the discussion .

University Assistant Professor of Intercultural Communication Anteneh Tsegaye (PhD) stated that those countries followed exclusive elite-based national dialogue have not been successful.

“For example, the national dialogue in Iraq failed because it did not involve the majority of the population and focused only on scholars,” he said, adding that most of the time, national dialogues that centre exclusively on elites are unsuccessful.

The academician also insisted that the expected national dialogue in Ethiopia must be inclusive and involve the public at all structural level and brings significant actors like civil society leaders to the stage as inclusiveness is the central element during national dialogue.

Media outlets and journalists must play their part for an all-inclusive national dialogue ensuring that all voices are heard, he further stressed.

There should be no topics that are not raised and discussed during the national dialogue, he said adding that it is up to the public to set agendas for discussion through the commission [the Ethiopian National Dialogue Commission].

“Recently, agendas are being set up through the media. This is not fair. Let us give the chance to the general public”, he also explained.

As to the scholar, the national dialogue in Benin has been successful as the media organizations and journalists in the country had done a lot of work on the importance of the dialogue and other related issues by convincing influential persons and the public.

On the contrary, the national dialogue in Sudan failed because the media were severely controlled by the government and did not play their role properly, he added.

“Most of the time, countries that start national dialogue but failed to succeed the dialogue enter into crisis,” he noted.

The academician further insisted that the newly-established Ethiopian National Dialogue Commission (ENDC) must take lesson from the previous Reconciliation Commission which was established in 2019.

And also, achievements and shortcomings of the Reconciliation Commission must be identified. Learning from the past is very important in reconciliation process, as to him.


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