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Statement on the Current Situation in Ethiopia - Medrek

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02/26/09

  04:42:12 pm, by admin, 1623 words  
Categories: Ethiopia

Statement on the Current Situation in Ethiopia - Medrek

A Statement on the Current Situation in Ethiopia issued by the “Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia - Forum” – A Forum Initiated by:

• Arena Tigray for Democracy and Sovereignty (Arena)
• Ethiopian Democratic Unity Movement (EDUM)
• Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement (OFDM)
• Somali Democratic Alliance Forces (SDAF)
• United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF), composed of ESDP, OPC & SEPDC
• Unity for Democracy and Justices (Andenet)

It is to be recalled that several political organizations came to the fore in Ethiopia during the seventeen years of struggle for democracy. During this period there had been several attempts at creating some form of unity and cooperation among the different political organizations. While these efforts have not accomplished the desired end, one cannot however deny that a lot of valuable experiences have been acquired, which will be useful for future efforts in bringing about unity and coordination of the fragmented opposition political parties. These experiences gave birth to the Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia (hereinafter referred to as the “Forum”) comprising six political parties and two renown personalities.

It has been an article of faith of the Forum that to bring about democratic change in Ethiopia the opposition parties must coordinate their struggle. Accordingly, the Forum members have been reaching consensus on some basic principles and rallying other democratic forces for the next step in the road towards creating unity of purpose and coordination of action among the member parties. In pursuit of this the Forum organized a two days conference on December 27, 2008 and January 3, 2009 at the Imperial Hotel where discussions with the public were held on various critical subjects.

In an effort to expand the membership, the Forum organized discussion and consultations with those political parties which the Forum believes meet the criteria for membership and are compatible with the basic principles of the organization. As a result, in addition to the six initial members of the Forum, two additional members, namely:
1. Unity for Democracy and Justices (Andenet)
2. Ethiopian Democratic Unity Movement (EDUM)
joined the Forum and their membership was endorsed by the Fourth Assembly of the Forum. This will further strengthen the Forum and bring it a step further in its quest for a concerted democratic struggle.

Following the welcome of the new members the Fourth Assembly elected Ato Gebru Asrat as its current Chairman and Ato Erchafo Erdelo as its current Secretary. Furthermore, a task force comprising one representative from the leadership of each member party and the two individuals was also appointed. The task force will craft a common a platform which will reflect the common consensus of the parties, eventually drawing a manifesto which will determine the type of association they would form as per provisions of the political parties registration proclamation, which will chart the future direction of the Forum.
The Forum had also held in-house discussions on the statements issued by the authorities following the various meetings where emphases were on the economy and the political issues. In examing these statements, the Forum took note of the narrowing political space and the national interest put at stake. Among the political issues examined by the Forum, the imprisonment of the Chairperson of the Unity for Democracy and Justice Ms. Bertukan Mideksa and several other Ethiopians incarcerated on political grounds, the persecution of the press with baseless criminal charges, the redeployment of our Defense Forces from Somalia back to Ethiopia and the propaganda campaign of the Ruling Party to enlist the support of youth, featured prominently.

Further to the statement issued on January 4, 2009, the Forum reiterates that the imprisonment of Ms.Bertukan reverses the agreement reached earlier with the Elders to release Kenijit detainees, stifles freedom of speech and violates the law and pertinent procedure. The Forum condemns the propaganda unleashed against Ms Burtukan when she is in a situation where she cannot respond to the charges. The Forum also demands that the government stops the harassment of journalists.

These and other similar violations of democratic rights come at the heel of the enactment of the Press Law, Political Parties Registration Proclamation and the Civic Societies and Charities Law and at a time when the General Election is only a few months away. These are indicative of EPRDF’s intent to narrow the political space instead of expanding it. The Forum, therefore, demands that the afore-mentioned restrictive measures be rescinded and the political space made conducive for free and fair elections.

The Forum is taking steps to transform itself into a strong coalition and it is identifying steps that need to be taken to make the forth coming elections free and fair. The Forum would hereby like to inform the Ruling Party and the Government that it is making preparations to negotiate on matters surrounding the elections.
The Forum welcomes the withdrawal of the members of our Defense Force from Somalia. The Forum honors the members of our Defense Forces for the sacrifices they paid by being away from their loved ones and their country. However, no amount of public relations gimmick will hide the fact that the Somalia situation has not improved from what it had been two years ago even after so much unnecessary sacrifices in life and resources have been made confirms that the intervention in Somalia was in the first place wrong.
The Forum has taken notice of the persistent economic crises and related matters that has gripped the country for the last two years. It recalls the dispute between the Government and Charity Organizations over the number of Ethiopians who needed food aid. It was noted that the number of those who need aid is still high and millions of Ethiopians are still victims of hunger and the sky rocketing food prices are second only to Zimbabwe.
While the economic policy pursued by the EPRDF has impoverished almost every body; it has impacted the young people more severely. Unemployment and hopelessness are rife among the youth. Disregarding fact that tens of thousands of young people were arbitrarily arrested and incarcerated following the 2005 elections, EPRDF now promises the same young people jobs in small scale businesses if they are organized in groups and support EPRDF. This is just a ruse to hoodwink the youth from pursuing the right course towards democracy.
On top of the internal socio-economic crises the country is faced with, the international economic slump is putting an additional direct and indirect pressure on the livelihood of all citizens. In view of the prevailing despicable political atmosphere and rampant poverty, the possible impact of the global economic crises is a matter of serious concern to the Forum. The Forum has noted with concern that while responsible governments all over the world are taking appropriate measures to contain/or ward off the effects of the global financial crises to the economies of their countries, the EPRDF government, as indicated in its recent English language Press Statement, thinks that it can preempt possible damage to its economy by obtaining unconditional aid from donors; while in its Amharic language Press Statement it was implying that Ethiopia could get away unscathed from the global economic crises since its economy is experiencing a double digit growth. We have also been observing the public relations fan fare the government has been staging about the mirage of “millionaire farmers”, which in fact is a mockery at the woes of the tens of millions of impoverished and starving farmers of our country. These realities depict the incapability of the EPRDF government to properly appreciate the problems and seek solutions as a result of its mistaken revolutionary democratic agenda.

Another serious matter of concern to the Forum is the state of the civil service, which has been facing a continuous harassment in the name of “Civil Service Reform” and currently through the aegis of implementing the “Business Process Re-engineering – BPR”. With regard to this flagrant violation of citizens’ rights, the Forum holds that the current practice of the government to fully transform the civil service into a party apparatus, by arbitrarily suspending the existing manpower from jobs and replacing it by EPRDF recruits in a non-competitive and unfair manner, must immediately stop.

The Country Self-assessment forum organized as part of the African Peer Review Mechanism, which deliberated on the document prepared by a government commissioned consultant group, was one of the major events that the government and few political parties were engaged in, during the past few weeks. The Forum fully rejects the portrayal of the Self-assessment document as a true representation of the state of affairs of the country by the government despite objections of member parties of the Forum that took part in the discussions. The Forum, in stead, intends to issue a detailed statement about the Country-assessment document in the near future.

Finally, we want to thank all those who supported the idea of the Forum and provided invaluable thoughts on the way forward in making it inclusive of all significant players in the opposition camp.

We, therefore, call up on all Ethiopians to fully support, in an all rounded manner, the continued effort of the Forum to bring about the coalition of all genuine opposition political parties around a minimum political agenda that would ensure a consensual democratic transition of our beloved country through a free and fair electoral process.

And, to all members and supporters of the EPRDF, we would like to assure them that the agenda of the Forum is in no way threatening their interests and wellbeing; but, rather it is a movement to provide an alternative to the failed revolutionary democratic platform of the EPRDF; this being the objective, the Forum makes this historical call for them to try to influence their party to positively relate to the constructive efforts being made.

Our Peaceful and Legal Struggle Shall Triumph!!

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