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Today: June 19, 2024

The Political Drama of Ethiopian Government: The so-called Dialogue Commission

June 3, 2024

A Critical Examination

Mengistu Musie (PhD)
mmusie2@gmail.com13
June 3, 2024

The Prime Minister new play, a strategic piece aimed at consolidating his power, has recently garnered attention for manipulating state-controlled institutions and media. Central to this unfolding drama is the so-called Dialogue Commission, which has convened citizens in Addis Ababa and other major cities. This entity has come to symbolize both the excesses and failures of Ahmed’s administration, highlighting a profound political, social, and economic crisis that demands urgent and holistic solutions.

The Dialogue Commission, ostensibly established to foster dialogue and promote peace, has deviated from its mission, and followed the government’s path, thereby deepening the crisis. Under Abiy Ahmed’s direction, this Commission has become a tool for propagating its agenda rather than addressing the nation’s critical issues. The Commission’s gatherings of citizens, lacking a clear agenda & inclusiveness of the stakeholders, have been criticized for their lack of genuine engagement and their role in perpetuating Ahmed’s authoritarian rule.

Ethiopia is currently grappling with a complex web of challenges. Politically, the country is polarized, with significant tensions between ethnic groups and regions. Socially, there is widespread discontent and mistrust towards the government, exacerbated by ongoing human rights abuses and lack of transparency. Economically, the nation is struggling with severe financial strains, partly due to the relentless military campaigns and expenditure in the north, which have drained resources and destabilized the region.

 

The Ethiopian National Dialogue Commission (ENDC)

Reconciliation and truth commissions and dialogue commissions were created in other troubled countries to stand on their own to solve the country’s problems. Those commissions were making decisions on their own, establish relationships with third parties, including foreign governments, international human rights organizations, and international organizations; Such dialogue commissions need to investigate & fully engage to propose solution.

As has been mentioned repeatedly, the international war and the large-scale human rights violations and destruction of property caused by the Italian Fascist Party and the German Nazi Party in the world were the first pioneers to solve the crimes of international and domestic justice. Argentina, Spain, and Rwanda followed them. South Africa’s Tunisian commissions have resolved problems through law and reconciliation and made their society stable.

The above attitude is very different from what is happening in Ethiopia now. The dialogue and reconciliation commissions listed above were established independently and free from political influence. The dictatorial regime (ANBAGENEN) established the dialogue commission created in Ethiopia to meet its own end goals. And the anger is not from the people but from the one who kills the people. The Commission designated to serve the interest of, given by the oppressive system government that works under this deadly and unjust system, can’t resolve, so it is not a solution to the problem of the Ethiopian people. Still, it is a part of the problem.

The Dialogue Commission’s activities appear increasingly hollow and counterproductive in this context. Instead of providing a platform for genuine dialogue and reconciliation, the Commission’s efforts have primarily legitimized Ahmed’s power and suppressed dissent. This misuse of state resources has only deepened the crisis, diverting attention and funds from urgent needs such as humanitarian aid and economic development.

If the Commission were independent, it could be crucial by prioritizing its agenda over Abiy Ahmed’s political games. Rather than organizing gatherings people in different communities with no apparent purpose, the Commission should focus on addressing the country’s most pressing issue: the ongoing war waged by the government. Instead of engaging in meaningless discussions, the Commission should promote peace and find solutions to end the conflicts. Doing so could help redirect the nation’s resources toward rebuilding and healing rather than perpetuating division and strife.

Ethiopia needs a comprehensive and inclusive approach to address these multifaceted challenges. The Dialogue Commission must shift its focus from supporting Ahmed’s administration to facilitating a broader national conversation about the country’s future. This involves allowing for the possibility of leadership change and establishing a new governmental system that prioritizes peace, stability, and the well-being of all citizens.

An essential framework to break the cycle of conflict and mismanagement of power requires a transition guided by inclusivity, transparency, and accountability principles, ensuring that all voices are heard and respected.

Only through such a transformative approach can Ethiopia hope to overcome its current crisis and embark on a path toward sustainable peace and development.

In summary, Abiy Ahmed’s strategic maneuvers through the Dialogue Commission have highlighted Ethiopia’s urgent need for systemic change. The nation must move beyond the current administration’s failures and work towards a future where genuine dialogue and inclusive governance can bring about lasting peace and stability.

 

The Assembly of Selected Citizens

Two or three months ago, Abiy Ahmed orchestrated a series of gatherings with different groups of citizens under the guise of public discussion. These carefully selected gatherings, led by the Prime Minister himself, were designed to divert attention from the ongoing conflict affecting the Amhara people and the bloodshed resulting from the war waged by the government.

Among the attendees were selected citizens from various regions and influential religious figures. Prominent roles were played by Muslim and Orthodox Christian clerics, many of whom were loyal to Ahmed due to their status as cadres in religious garb. These assemblies served a dual purpose: providing Ahmed with a platform for public praise and adoration and allowing him to subtly humiliate and undermine the authority of more prominent and potentially dissenting religious leaders. A notable example of this was the treatment of Abune Abraham, a respected spiritual leader of the church, who was publicly bashed by other clerics who were purposely invited to criticize him and praise the Prime Minister.

In recent meetings, the Prime Minister humiliated the church and its revered leaders by placing Abu Abraham and our Holy Father Abu Mathias alongside secularists who promote the narrow nationalism of the Oromo. This was not only surprising but also profoundly saddening.

The Prime Minister may have found the praise from his supporters and the disgraceful fake monks pleasing, but it was shameful to the people of Ethiopia. At a time when monks are being slaughtered, churches and monasteries are being looted and burnt to the ground, praising the Prime Minister, who is orchestrating these attacks on the church, reflects not paternal ethics but a deceitful and opportunistic mindset.

 

Military Operations in the Northern Ethiopia

While Abiy Ahmed’s displays of power and unity played out in public forums, a far more sinister drama was unfolding in the northern regions of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian military, under Ahmed’s command, was still engaged in a brutal campaign against the Amhara people. This military operation, characterized by its ruthless efficiency and disregard for human rights, has left a trail of devastation.

The army has not only destabilized the region but has also strained Ethiopia’s resources to the breaking point. The continuous deployment of military forces has wreaked havoc on the local economy and drained the national treasury, diverting funds that could have been used to address the pressing needs of the populace. This relentless pursuit of military dominance appears to be driven more by Ahmed’s desire to maintain his grip on power than by any genuine concern for national security or unity.

As events unfold, the world witnesses Abiy Ahmed’s army’s failure to achieve its objective of destruction of the Amhara people and absolute victory over them. Convoy after convoy entering the Amhara region still didn’t achieve Ahmed’s goal. Instead, the large army deployed, with 80% of its forces concentrated in Gojjam, is facing inevitable defeat. Despite the government’s effort, the situation plays out in a manner that suggests a significant setback for Ahmed’s regime, culminating in an unavoidable loss and his final debacle.

 

The Role of the ENDC

The Dialogue Commission, the most recent addition to Abiy Ahmed’s repertoire of political maneuvers, has raised concerns about its independence and effectiveness. Ostensibly established to facilitate dialogue and promote peace, this Commission has become a mechanism for reinforcing Ahmed’s political narrative and justifying his authoritarian measures. Its alignment with the government’s agenda raises questions about its ability to act as a neutral mediator and address the nation’s political challenges.

The Commission has been widely criticized for draining the country’s finances. The funds allocated for its numerous meetings and consultations, which amount, could be better spent addressing the pressing needs of the populace. Instead, these gatherings have served as little more than platforms for pro-government propaganda and have yet to address the underlying issues fueling the conflict. The lavish spending on these meetings, from the national budget, starkly contrasts with many Ethiopians’ dire economic situation, highlighting a misallocation of resources that further exacerbates public discontent.

The ongoing war in the Amhara region likely illustrates the Dialogue Commission’s inability to take meaningful actions to enforce dialog and stop the government repression against the people. If the Commission were an independent and effective body, it would prioritize speaking out against the hostilities and promoting peace. However, it’s shocking lack of intervention in the face of the government’s military aggression against peaceful citizens is a source of deep anger and resentment. This inaction reveals its true nature as a tool of the state rather than a genuine mediator, further eroding public trust.

Moreover, the Commission’s action, or lack thereof, is not to alleviate the suffering in the Amhara region and the entire country. Instead, it is focused on doing the same propaganda work as the government, such as going city to cities and gathering communities for no apparent reasons just for the purpose of to defend the critics it recently receiving. If the country were to get out of trouble, the Commission should oppose the war with loud and clear statements. The Commission should have exposed the activities of the national army for waging war against its own people and stand against the illegal war.

The military campaign, characterized by its ruthless efficiency and disregard for human rights, continues to destabilize the area and strain Ethiopia’s resources to the breaking point. The continuous deployment of military forces has wreaked havoc on the local economy and drained the national treasury, diverting funds that could have been used for essential public services. This relentless pursuit of military dominance appears driven more by Ethnocentric Oromo nationalists desire to maintain their grip on power than by any genuine concern for national security or unity.

As events unfold, the world witnesses Abiy Ahmed’s army’s failure to achieve its objective of destruction of the Amhara people and absolute victory over them. This failure is more evident where a chain of the national army’s convoy entering the Amhara region, still needing to reach PM Ahmed’s goals. Instead, the large army deployed, with 80% of its forces concentrated in Gojjam, is facing inevitable defeat. Despite the government’s efforts, the situation plays out in a manner that suggests a significant setback for Ahmed’s regime, culminating in an unavoidable loss and his final debacle. The Commission’s inaction and complicity further underscore the hollow nature of Ahmed’s peace and unity rhetoric, revealing a regime more interested in self-preservation than in addressing the nation’s profound crises.

 

Summary

To summarize and propose a solution, the experiences described above are universal. For instance, the commission established after the 2011 revolution in Tunisia did not solely examine the government of a single dictator. Instead, it investigated abuses and large-scale human rights violations committed since Tunisia’s liberation from colonialism in 1960. Similarly, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by Desmond Tutu, investigated abuses spanning a century in South Africa. It aimed to end lingering crimes through reconciliation, cleansing the country of resentment and revenge, and closing a painful chapter. Drawing from these examples, Ethiopia requires a comprehensive approach to address its history of atrocities. From the Derg’s Red Terror starting in 1974, through the TPLF’s ethnic cleansing in Arba Gugu and Bedeno, to the recent war in Tigray over the past two years and the ongoing violence against the Amhara people including the genocide in Oromia, the scope of government crimes and the extensive loss of property necessitate Ethiopians to have a transitional government and transitional justice system in place. This transitional government should prioritize establishing fair elections and creating an independent reconciliation and truth commission. Unlike the current situation, this commission must operate independently of government influence to investigate problems and propose solutions effectively.

The proposed Reconciliation Commission would focus on transitional justice, adjudicating those sentenced by the courts. Efforts that culminate in peace and reconciliation must indeed end in genuine reconciliation. Given the widespread loss of homes and property and the resultant homelessness, the current inaction in Ethiopia regarding similar crimes is both historically and morally inappropriate. It is imperative to avoid trivializing the commission’s role; it must be a severe endeavor aimed at true justice and healing.

What’s more, the composition, the inception, and the individual responsible for establishing the commission diverge from the precedents set by other nations facing akin challenges. The global landscape reveals that truth and dialogue commissions typically emerge following the collapse of dictatorial regimes. The situation with the ENDC stands apart, challenging our conventional understanding of other successful commissions that facilitated the shift from dictatorship to democracy.

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1 Comment

  1. Any effort to promote understanding among citizens and thereby peace should always be commended and supported. There is always those at the gate trying to nullify such critical endeavor with the evil notion that ‘If I don’t lead it, to hell with it!’ Nothing is more noble than utilizing any and all opportunities to bring lasting peace and stability to those beleaguered people. It is reported that more than a million people have perished and millions have been driven out of their homes since 2020 alone. For some of us in our comfy and safe homes here in the Diaspora, we may take that just as another walk in a park. It is not funny, okay!

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