Ethiopian Democratic Political and Civic Groups Embrace a Common position and Call for Unified Action Joint Statement

August 10, 2012
We, the undersigned believe that, the dictatorial single party rule of the minority ethnic-based Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) it dominates, faces the prospect of sustained popular resistance and inevitable demise that its oppressive predecessors also faced. The Ethiopian people and the world community continue to watch an unfolding drama with anxiety and uneasiness emanating from the widely reported “critical illness” and disappearance of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the face of the governing party for the past 21 years. Ethiopian society is replete with gossips, rumors, widespread speculation concerning the closely guarded meetings and rivalry within the governing party, for succession. This occurs in an environment of fear, repression of all forms of dissent, gross human rights violations, hyperinflation, high unemployment and immigration among youth, nepotism, graft and corruption, uncertainty and an unpredictable future for the entire society, the country and the Horn of Africa. The level of uncertainty on the country’s future and on alleviating endemic poverty is evidenced by the 2012 Fund for Peace Index of Failed States that places Ethiopia under the TPLF/EPRDF regime 17th of 177 countries.
Against this ominous sign that poses enormous risks for durable peace and stability, Ethiopia’s territorial integrity, and sustainable and equitable development for 90 million people is widespread, and sustained through dissent and struggle in search of a modicum of freedom among a wide segment of the population: young women and men, students, teachers, journalists, human rights activists, professionals, business women and men, civil servants, ordinary soldiers, civic and political activists within and outside the country, the unemployed, farmers and pastoralists, leaders and followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox and Muslim faiths. We believe that this democratic trend is unstoppable.
The common thread that binds Ethiopia’s mosaic of people together includes rejection of the regime’s deliberate policy of ethnic, linguistic and religion based “divide and rule,” insatiable desire for a government that respects human dignity and honor, justice, fairness, equal treatment under the law and individual and group rights. . These common hopes and aspirations suggest that the vast majority of the Ethiopian people are ready and willing to do their part in getting rid-of the current dictatorship and replacing it with a genuinely representative form of government that is totally accountable to them.
In light of the above, the Ethiopian people as a whole expect all civic and political groups and democratic and patriotic activists within and outside the country to come together, pull their resources and adopt a common platform and chart a road map that will lead to justice, genuine equality of opportunity and a democratic form of government. All social, economic and political indicators suggest that the TPLF/EPRDF regime is no longer capable of resolving the country’s myriad of problems of its making. Popular sentiment suggests that the TPLF/EPRDF has lost legitimacy to govern. The followed outcome of a vacuum in inclusive, national and democratic organization and leadership reinforces our sentiment that opposition groups cannot afford to miss another window of opportunity for a democratic transition. Hence the urgent call to pull together.
Accordingly, we the undersigned, commit ourselves to the pursuit of lasting peace and stability that is based on justice, inclusion, equality of opportunity, freedom, the rule of law and the establishment of democratic governance that emanates from unfettered popular participation, free and fair elections. We call on all opposition groups and individuals to join this noble effort; and endorse the following five fundamental principles as our guide:
1. We commit ourselves to secure the durability of Ethiopia’s unity, territorial integrity and independence by promoting the establishment of a genuine democratic system of government that reflects the will of all segments of the population;

2. We pledge to promote and create favorable conditions for all democratic groups and individuals within and outside the country to engage fully; and to carefully, wisely and methodically arrive at Transitional Arrangements and Processes proactively. Such a process should lead towards effective and unencumbered participation of all segments of Ethiopian society and position them to discuss and approve a new democratic constitution and enjoy a new era of free and fair elections. The complexities and challenges ahead require that we:

a) Establish a Coordinating Committee–drawn from participant groups–whose lead responsibility is to oversee and facilitate information and intelligence gathering, sharing and dissemination among partners within and outside the country; and
b) The Coordinating Committee shall monitor and assess current developments, develop and or design meaningful interventions and strategies, craft positions that partner organizations will implement in common.

3. We resolve to stand firm and speak with one voice against all forms of internal and external interferences that threaten and or compromise the territorial integrity and independence of the country; and derail the democratization process underway.
4. We stand firm against and reject any form of ‘private or secret’ negotiations and short cuts for power by any individual person or group outside the process of genuine democratization of Ethiopian society that we intend to pursue collectively, collaboratively and vigorously in concert with willing partners.

5. We call on all Ethiopians across the globe to transcend the politics of fear and division on the basis of, ethnic, linguistic, religious, gender, age and other differences and urge them to organize themselves as champions of change in a mutually respectful, tolerant and collaborative manner solely as Ethiopians.
The crisis facing the country and its diverse population is real and systemic. For this reason, we feel strongly that only a just, all inclusive and democratic alternative will avert national disaster and pave the way for the protection of fundamental human rights and genuine equality of all citizens.. To this effect, we draw special attention to five critical areas to which each of us can contribute as catalysts of change:
a) The role of Ethiopia’s Defense establishment is not to serve an individual or a single governing party or ethnic group. Its sole and prime responsibility is to defend and preserve the country’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We therefore call on the Armed Forces to side with the Ethiopian people.
b) We call on democratic, patriotic and reform-oriented individuals and groups within the TPLF/EPRDF to overcome fear and division and join their compatriots who stand and struggle for a democratic transition.
c) We condemn the regime’s desecration of religious institutions; and interference in all matters of religious freedom, association and organization. We support the democratic rights and freedom of all religious leaders and members in dissenting against any interference and repression by the state and government; and call on all faiths to be vigilant against the regime’s instigated religious divisions, intrigues and civil unrest.
d) We call on the Ethiopian people to be cognizant of the TPLF/EPRDF policy and program of “divide and rule” that pities one ethnic or religious or ideological group against another on a recurring basis; and urge them to close ranks in pursuit of justice, the rule of law and democratic governance.
e) We urge all segments of Ethiopian society: students, teachers, workers, civil servants, business women and men, professionals, political and civic leaders, farmers and pastoralists to come together, reject fear and division, and assert their fundamental rights for justice, freedom, equality and democratic governance in unison.
On our part, we pledge to the Ethiopian people as a whole that our primary goal is not to replace one form of dictatorship by another. It is to support them in their illusive quest for justice, freedom, equality and a democratic form of government that is totally accountable to them.

Sponsoring organizations:

Advocacy for Ethiopia
Alliance for Liberty, Equality and Justice in Ethiopia (ALEJE)
All Ethiopia Socialist Movement (ME’ISONE)
Biruh Ethiopia Democratic Movement (Biruh)
Ethiopian Border Affairs Committee
Ethiopian National Priorities Consultative Process (ENPCP)
Ethiopian National Transitional Council
Ethiopian People’s Congress for United Struggle (Shengo)
Global Civic Movement for Change in Ethiopia (Beka)
March 4 Freedom
Oromo Liberation Front (Led by Gen Kemal Gelchu)

August 10, 2012

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