Gadaa.com August 22, 2012 at 1:26 pm ·
We, members of the Oromo Dialogue Forum (ODF), would like to extend our condolences to the family and relatives of the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi. The announcement of the death of Mr. Zenawi, who ruled Ethiopia for more than two decades, has triggered an outpouring of conflicting emotions by his friends and foes alike. He has been praised as a great leader by the former and maligned as a tyrant by the latter. We believe that the more constructive way of reacting to this development should be considering it as an opportune moment for reflection.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi leaves behind a very conflicting legacy. He was a very clever politician on the international arena. While he worked hard to win friends abroad, and was seen more comfortable with foreigners, he shunned dialogue at home, was less accessible to Ethiopians, and rarely seen in public. He played a very prominent role and was praised on the international stage, but he remained a very divisive figure at home. He never attempted to solicit broad domestic support, and the one thing that mattered most to him was international legitimacy to buttress his domestic hold on power. Consequently, he bequeathed widespread violations of human rights, abuse of power, simmering internal conflicts arising from the divergent attitudes about the character of Ethiopia, compounded by increasing clashes with various religious groups. At the same time, Ethiopian troops are embroiled in the Somali imbroglio while tensions with Eritrea remain very much alive. Therefore, he leaves behind a leadership that is facing many internal and external challenges in the absence of his firm guidance.
The only way to settle the crises stemming from these simultaneous internal and external challenges, we believe, is by convening an inclusive National Convention in order to reform and build a new and democratic state on the basis of equal citizenship, a state that reflects the diversity of its peoples, safeguards their equality, unity, welfare, fundamental human rights, and sovereignty. Such a national convention provides the opportunity to hammer out a compromise on the character of the state, deliberate on how it should be governed, and arrive at a common national purpose, the precondition for the diverse peoples of Ethiopia to live together in harmony, peace, dignity, and justice. We believe this noble vision is achievable provided that all concerned display the willingness to jettison the deep-seated political culture of wanting to impose one’s preferred positions, and uphold the principle of accommodation and common solutions.
In particular, we call upon the TPLF/EPRDF to stop deceiving itself that it can impose its will by force and single-handedly solve Ethiopia’s multifaceted problems and challenges. We also call upon those who wish to restore the order of yesteryears to realize that the danger inherent in such an undertaking would only lead to further violence and bloodshed.
The political crisis in Ethiopia today is not just an ideological one; it is neither a preference between democracy and dictatorship, nor a choice between poverty and development. Ethiopia’s ills run deeper. At its core is the way successive rulers have treated the peoples of Ethiopia as only subjects with obligations to the state, instead of citizens with rights. The problem is rooted in a lack of societal consensus on the character and ownership of the Ethiopian state. The specter of armed struggle, repression, secrecy, and political conflict will not end until, and unless, this lack of legitimacy of state power in Ethiopia is addressed. This entails not only reasonably meeting the aspirations of the oppressed nationalities but also the desire to maintain the country’s unity. And we believe dialogue offers the best route out of the crises. Vengeance invites vengeance, and the cycle will continue without end. To break this vicious cycle of violence that had besieged us for many years, we should start a new era of negotiated settlement and bring about a peaceful resolution to our common problems. There cannot be unilateral solutions, military or civil, to our political problems either by the opposition or the government.
This is why we wish to kick start a dialogue involving all political groups, including the ruling party, culminating in the convening of a National Convention in order to chart a clear path towards state transformation and a democratic future by laying the groundwork for the emergence and consolidation of institutions of a truly democratic system that warrant and enjoy the respect of all of Ethiopia’s diverse peoples. Only the building of credible, neutral, and competent state institutions that inspire the confidence of all parties, can guarantee the holding of free and fair elections, leading to forging a more modern, unified, federal, developed, and democratic state that is owned and defended by all its constituents.
The political heirs of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi can lay him to rest in peace by heeding to the clarion call for national dialogue and consensus. His admirers in the international community can also best do justice to his legacy by supporting such a process of inclusiveness for a genuinely and sustainably stable and prosperous Ethiopia.
Oromo Dialogue Forum
August 22, 2012
Dr. Dima Nogo
Dr. Bayan Asoba,
Qunnamtiif : firstname.lastname@example.org