On the Peaceful Resolution of the Conflict in the Northern Part of Ethiopia
It is to be recalled from our previous edition of The Brief that the Government of Ethiopia has been working closely with the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa to ensure a lasting political settlement to the conflict in the northern part of Ethiopia. True to its commitment, the government announced the formation of a committee to study existing conditions in detail and negotiate with the TPLF accordingly. The Committee of seven led by the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, issued a statement this week declaring that it has begun discharging its responsibilities. This has been another positive step towards ending the conflict peacefully. Having met among its members for the first time, the committee determined the rule of conduct and procedures for negotiation while establishing sub-committees with different responsibilities as it formally commenced its work this week.
There are some compelling reasons to proceed with this peace process. The fact that the conflict was not something the government has entered into with its free volition but was imposed upon it constitutes the fundamental reason to seek a peaceful resolution. As can be recalled, the federal government tried its best to resolve differences peacefully before and during the conflict. This position will not change now provided that the TPLF is ready to come to the fold.
The other compelling reason is the need to guarantee peace for ongoing reform initiatives to succeed. The government believes that further bloodshed and the suffering and misery of civilians should end to pave the way for a decent political exercise. Relatedly, reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation of communities that have been affected by the conflict is of fundamental priority. There is an absolute understanding that the nation should put an end to this tragic chapter and guarantee peace to realise ongoing reform initiatives.
The need to foster national consensus through a process of inclusive national dialogue is also another underlying rationale to start the peace process. Concurrent to the AU-led peace process, a National Dialogue Commission has been launched with a view to resolving political differences through civil deliberations. The role of the Commission constitutes initiating dialogue among all political stakeholders, civil society associations, religious communities, and a vast section of the public on contentious national issues. It is hoped that the process will enable actors to discuss fundamental national issues openly and ensure national consensus in the nation.
While the above are the fundamental rationales leading to the decision for a negotiated Peace, the government determined that the outcome of the Peace process to be within the bounds of these three principles. i.e., 1) respecting the constitutional order, 2) respecting fundamental national interest, and 3) recognising the role of the African union as the facilitator of the process. The government’s insistence on the leadership role of the African Union via its High-Representative to the Horn of Africa, Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, is a reiteration of its firm stance on the significance of ‘African Solutions to African Problems’.
The government firmly believes that these positive actions should be reciprocated by the TPLF. In this score, the TPLF must accept the constitutional order in Ethiopia and refrain from subversive activities. It must also respect the good offices of the African Union and its High Representative for the Horn of Africa, Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo.
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