With Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) focusing on national reconciliation and consensus, the Political Parties Negotiation Forum, which resumed its interrupted negotiation process this week, identified national consensus to be the next on the agenda but was unable to come to a common understanding on the modalities of the negotiation.
The 16 political parties’ negotiation forum – 15 opposition political parties and the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) – held its half day discussion on Wednesday mostly talking about the modalities of dealing with the agenda topic “building national consensus”.
Apparently, national consensus was scheduled to be 12th and last on the agenda for the negotiation forum. In fact, the Forum has suspended its negotiations on the 4th topic, the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation No. 652/2009, few months back, until the ruling party comes up with a concrete proposal on how to amend the aforementioned legislation.
The anti-terror agenda was also one of the most controversial for the negotiation, prompting the withdrawal of the Ethiopian Raey Party (ERP) from the forum. At the end, the parties left the negotiation table without reaching any consensus on the fate of the proclamation.
Nevertheless, amid the disagreements regarding the proclamation, the negotiation forum decided to skip pages and tackle the last agenda topic, which is building national consensus.
As usual, chair of the proceedings, representative of the ruling EPRDF, Degiffe Bulla, accepted proposals on how to continue with the issue of national consensus. As far as the 10-party coalition in the negotiation is concerned, there must be a national “committee” or dedicated body to spearhead the so-called building national consensus.
Meanwhile, those parties not in the 10-party coalition have managed to come up with a somewhat similar yet different proposal of establishing an institution to oversee the consensus building process. The others as well took the position of discussing the matter further with their constituency before agreeing to or proposing idea towards national consensus. “We need more time deliberate and forum a position in the matter,” he said.
As far as the institute idea is concerned, Degiffe explained to negotiators that the platform does not have the mandate to enact laws and establish institutions.
“Since the initial papers presented by the opposition parties regarding building a national consensus are not well organized and fragmented it needs to be reorganized by experts,” Degiffe said told The Reporter.
Following the suggestions, both from the ruling party and the oppositions, the parties agreed to come up with their own concrete alternatives and to convene to discuss over the agenda the coming Tuesday.
So far, the ruling party and the national opposition parties have agreed to amend the existing Revised Political Parties’ Registration Proclamation No. 573/2008 and Electoral Law of Ethiopia Proclamation No. 532/2007. As a result of the ongoing negotiation, the parties have agreed to change the electoral system of the country to a mixed electoral system which is said to be consequential in terms of triggering constitutional amendment and changing the size of the nation’s law making body.