On 23 February, two days after their appointment by Parliament, Speaker Tagesse Chafo met with the eleven commissioners of of the National Dialogue Commission (NDC). Picture: HoPR
Addis Abeba – In a statement it issued last night, the political party Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (EzEMA) called for shortcomings observed in the formation process of the National Dialogue Commission (NDC) eleven commissioners to be corrected and future works to be improved.
EzEMA says it accepts the formation of national dialogue as “a solution” that can “provides an opportunity to address our complex structural bottlenecks,” and said it believe if “we can reach at an agreement, we can put the Ethiopian state on a solid footing.” However, “we fear that it will not be easy to see the lasting peace, sovereignty, and unity that we want the dialogue to achieve if the shortcomings in this process are not corrected and the future works and chapters are not improved.”
Explaining its reasons, EzEMA said that “it is an open secret” that besides the “rush ” with which formation of the commission was conducted, various persons have expressed reservation on the “problem of transparency.” As EzEMA “we too have observed a serious problem with transparency.”
“we fear that it will not be easy to see the lasting peace, sovereignty, and unity that we want the dialogue to achieve if the shortcomings in this process are not corrected and the future works and chapters are not improved.”
The party said that despite the rush to approve the proclamation and the lack of transparency in the nomination of the commissioners, there were lack of clear guidelines on the commissioners’ recommendations, confusing rules nominators faced, lack of consistent guidelines that at times say the public can only nominate one person, and the lack of transparency in the process after commissioners were nominated.
It also said there were insufficient explanations on how many people and who were nominated, and how many people participated in the nomination process. “Transparency is one of the most important issues in the national dialogue, and it is primarily about the process. Equally important with the outcome is the importance on whether we should be concerned about the transparency of the process. Regardless of the outcome of a process that does not involve transparency, the impact of the questions and legitimacy raised on the process will not have easy influence.”
The other shortcomings EzEMA expressed its concerns about are the “distorted comments” made by government officials about the National Dialogue, the “lack of attention and negligence shown by the media to the issue”, and the way in which the government has subjected the process “to haste and hustle”, as well as the blatant lack of transparency shown on the part of “the legislature” to the process.
The impact of such events in putting pressure and casting a shadow on the fruitful dialogue we are considering to have will not be easy, EzEMA cautioned. It further said that as a Party EzEMA understands “that the National Dialogue does not mean solving all our problems and resolving all national differences and disagreements,” but emphasized that “the most important phase of this process is the preparation phase, and the main responsibility will be on the commissioners who were selected in this process.” As such, it expressed its hopes that “the commissioners elected by the House of Peoples’ Representatives of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia will fulfill their national responsibilities, stand up for the people and their consciences, stand up to pressure from the government, political parties and any other party and write their history in the process of strengthening the Ethiopian state.”
EzEMA concluded its statement by expressing its hopes that the commissioners “will be able to take full responsibility for the national dialogue and conduct the remaining chapters in a transparent and honest manner.”
On February 21 the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HoPR) convened a special session and appointed eleven individuals who will become commissioners of the National Dialogue Commission. It followed the approval on 29 December by the House of Proclamation No. 1265/2014 to establish the National Dialogue Commission (NDC) with majority vote with 13 nos and one abstention. Subsequently the HoPR’s Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Democracy said Commissioners who will be leading the National Dialogue Commission will be selected by the people of Ethiopia and their appointments will be approved by the Parliament. On 04 January, the HoPR issued a shortlist of 42 people out of 600 names who it said were nominated by the public to lead the Dialogue Commission.
However, political parties have expressed reservations on the process by the Parliament and called for review. In a statement released on the same day, the opposition party, Balderas for True Democracy said that the Commission’s formation has “failed before its formation” because the government has “debilitated the National Dialogue Commission appointment” by abandoning inclusive process.
On 14 February, Ethiopian Political Parties Joint Council (EPPJC), a coalition of more than 53 legally registered political parties in Ethiopia including the ruling PP, has issued a statement requesting the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) to “temporarily halt” the ongoing proceedings to select the eleven commissioners to lead the planned National Dialogue Commission (NDC). It requested the parliament to resume the process in an “inclusive and trustworthy” manner.
EPPJC’s statement was issued in the backdrop of the a statement by the Parliament announcing a shortlist of 42 people who it said were nominated by the public to lead the Dialogue Commission.
Already, three main opposition parties: Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) issued a statement saying the process of the nomination of Commissioners was not impartial [OFC], was unknown [OLF] and lacked representation [ONLF].