| by Teshome M. Borago
In a press conference televised live Tuesday morning, the leadership of Ginbot 7 announced their plan to enter Ethiopia in one month time.
Ginbot 7 Chairman Dr. Berhanu Nega, Secretary General Andargachew Tsige and Ephrem Madebo answered questions from the media, including ESAT and VOA. The leadership admitted there will be security and other risks by operating as civilians running a political party inside the country. They also believe more reforms are necessary to make the election board, state media, police and other institutions independent. However, during Dr Berhanu Nega’s meeting with the new Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed, he expressed the will to open up the political environment, they added. “The purpose of Ginbot 7 was not for our group to win, but to put pressure and to establish an environment where there is free media, freedom of assembly and expression. It seems like we are moving in the right direction.”
In response to questions about a federal structure, Andargachew Tsege said his group has not finalized a policy and it will study the topic further. However, he expressed his skepticism for “ethnic federalism;” seeing it as the prime driver of tribal conflicts and divisions in Ethiopia today. Yet he said his party supports federalism over a unitary system: “the only question is, what kind of federalism?”
Andargachew also revealed that not only Ethiopians, but also the Eritrean government has expressed their concerns about the current ethnic-based federal system in Ethiopia and its adverse impact on Eritrean society.
Regarding the crowded field of opposition politics, they suggested their willingness to unite with various like minded organizations inside the country. However, Dr. Berhanu said his group has thousands of members and millions of supporters, in contrast to some organizations in Ethiopia that exist in name only.