Stability Holds the Key to Reform

12 Mar 2018

Reforms on the Horizons

Following the announcement of the resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, as part of the ongoing governmental reform process in Ethiopia, the Council of Ministers unanimously declared a 6-month State of Emergency on 19th February 2018.

As detailed in last month’s edition of our newsletter, following the evaluations of the coalition parties of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the leadership of the Front announced a series of measures aimed at ramping up the reform process, and by extension replenishing Ethiopia’s renaissance. However, as the leadership made crystal clear, priority would be given first and foremost to the maintenance of peace, security and the rule of law in some regional states affected by violent unrest.

Since the ratification of the State of Emergency, the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has released a statement expressing their strong hope that this announcement would not lead to “a reversal in recent moves towards reforms”. The Government’s position, in this regard, is certain and assuages any such concerns.

When viewed in its full context, the State of Emergency, will not act as an impediment to the reform process but represents the key foundation from which this process can successfully springboard.

In recent months, the scenarios which have faced the people of Ethiopia have been deeply concerning. Discord reported over this period, have included a marked increase in: ethnic-based hostility and violence; the destruction of public and private property; damage to investments and infrastructure; the forced closure of schools, government offices and private businesses; the disruption of market activities; forced evictions; illegal protests; and the obstruction of roads and transportation. These events, uncharacteristic of Ethiopia’s longstanding traditions of tolerance and coexistence, represent a direct threat to the lives and rights of citizens, as enshrined under the Constitution, and an attack on the federal system. They also threaten the remarkable socio-economic development and growth registered by the country over the last two decades – discouraging Foreign Direct Investment and jeopardising countless job opportunities for young people in the process.

It is in light of these threats that the Council of Ministers unanimously approved the tabling of the 6-month State of Emergency for ratification by the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HoPR). On 2nd March 2018, in a further endorsement of this roadmap, Parliament officially ratified the State of Emergency with a two-thirds majority, approving safeguards and establishing an inquiry board to oversee its implementation.

By supporting the maintenance of the constitutional order, the State of Emergency will serve to accelerate the reform process already underway in the country. Thus far, the first steps in this process have seen the release and pardon of over six thousand prisoners across the country, in a move aimed at fostering national unity, widening the political space and enhancing democracy.

Now, more than ever, it is incumbent on the peace-loving citizens of Ethiopia to defend the constitutional order from all threats, thereby establishing a foundation for the reforms needed to secure peace, advance development and propel our young democracy.

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