Meeting the objectives of the national dialogue meet a stumbling hurdle as wounds and scars continue to protrude throughout Ethiopia. To find a viable strategy for resolving internal political and socioeconomic schisms, culminating in a peaceful conclusion, Ethiopia is attempting to hold an inclusive, broad, and participatory dialogue across the country, an effort threatened by perpetual conflict and ineffective government responses.
In a bid to incorporate Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the national dialogue, the Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations Council (ECOSOC) convened with representatives from civic groups, political parties, and officials of the Ministry of Peace on February 8, 2023.
Assistant Professor of political science and international relations at Addis Ababa University and participant in the meeting, Yonas Ashine, stated that violence, including deaths, forced displacement, and property destruction persisted since the formation of the National Dialogue Commission.
“We’re seeing an increase in political and religious nationalism, which demands a determined strategy to get out of this problematic situation,” he said.
The peacebuilding process in Ethiopia is in disarray because the government does not have a strategy or roadmap to address the problems that require political and bureaucratic solutions, according to Yonas. He claims the Commission now also has to deal with simple issues that could easily be handled by the government. He suggested that the government focus on problems that are under its authority.
Human rights lawyer Amha Mekonen thinks there has been a long-standing tangle between government and political party actions, despite the clear delineation between the two. He also argues that the administration is currently engaged in a plot to perform some unneeded and improper activities in some government agencies.
“We see authorities who are nonchalant and at ease; we heard 200 people were killed horrifically the day before, and the next day you see officials who are relaxed and having fun; what does this mean?” Amha asked, “Does this type of action assist us in resolving our current problem.”
Amha believes there is a need for a clear and transparent government in all of its actions. “Some of us, especially those close to the government due to our profession, are puzzled, and most people are unsure where to go.” He says the government should avoid doing anything that could inflame the populace, including provoking or inciting them.
A recent study on the role of civil society in the peace-building process by the Council revealed that the majority of civil society organizations in Ethiopia are worried about the growing conflict, politicians’ reluctance to learn from previous mistakes, and failure to agree, all of which could be demotivating factors for national dialogue.
When it comes to establishing peace, Yonas suggests the government begin at a local level before expanding to federal levels. However, he has emphasized the necessity for a well-defined strategy to determine which issues may be addressed through existing national discussion platforms and government administrative structures.