Former Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Armed Forces, Tsadkan Gebretensae (Let. Gen.), called for the establishment of an independent commission, to prepare a level political playing field for the upcoming elections, if Ethiopia is to shrug off its current challenges and become a stable country.
In an exclusive interview with The Reporter, Tsadkan indicated that, the current situation in the country is beyond the control and management capabilities of the current system and only an independent commission, which is free from the dominance of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) can save the country from any unforeseen fate that awaits it.
Tsadkan’s proposal came at a time when every kind of discontent, public distaste and grievance are dragging the people out of their homes and swarm the streets chanting anti-government slogans and songs. Nothing more demonstrates this than the fatal protests in Northern Wollo Zone, in towns of Woldia, Kobo and Mersa, just a few weeks ago.
Other factors, which claimed the lives of many and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, are indicators that the country is in a state of difficulty in managing the chaos. The conflicts in the country and the “illegal demonstrations”, as the government describes them, have for long been externalized until the government took all the responsibility, blaming its leadership and the failure to deliver its promises as a government.
Although, taken as a good start, the government’s inclination towards minimizing the political discontent of the public to infrastructural demands was heavily criticized and it seems to have shaken the government to its spine.
Hence, after a grueling 17-day meeting, undertaken by the central committee members of the coalition, the government came to admit that the state of the federation is at risk and the majority of the public’s demands are of political discontent. The most internationally acclaimed decision made by the Government, was the releasing of “prisoners who were political party members”.
Prominent opposition politician, Merera Gudina, and other detainees in Addis Ababa and the Southern Regional State were released from prison.
In addition to Merera and the other detainee releases, the government had also decided on Thursday, February 8, 2018, to release 746 prisoners who were detained with a verdict and whose cases that are under review by courts. Out of these prisoners, 124 were alleged members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and 61 were alleged members of Ginbot-7, both designated as terrorist organizations by the Ethiopian parliament.
However, Tsadkan seems unsatisfied by these measures. The independent commission he recommended is to be under the Office of the President of the Federation and no member of the commission should be drawn from the EPRDF to maintain neutrality.
The commission will be in place for two years until the next national elections, in which all national political parties will run for representation in offices at the federal and regional levels.
For the two years – during which the independent council is tasked with leveling the political landscape – the government will have the role of running public offices and the party will be treated as any other political party and prepare itself to run for the election that follows.
In addition to this, he recommended that the political parties both in the country and abroad will be given the opportunity to come into the country and join the political process in a peaceful manner.