News: Authority vows to hold CSOs working against “sovereignty, public interest” to account

Jima Dilbo. Picture: SCSO

By Addis Standard Staff

Addis Abeba – Jima Dilbo, Director General of the federal Authority for Civil Society Organizations (ACSO) told state media that the Agency would strengthen its works to make civil society organizations “working against Ethiopia’s sovereignty and the public interest” accountable by law.

Jima further pointed out that the Authority was working with the relevant parties to establish a strong monitoring and control system. However, he also said that the support of the federal government to civil society organizations will continue in accordance with the purpose for which they were established.

The news comes a week after a group of 35 local civil society organizations issued a joint statement calling for peace in Ethiopia and an end to the ongoing militarized hostilities in parts of Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions, as well as other conflicts involving the federal and Oromia regional state forces on the one hand and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), known by the government as “OLF Shene” on the other. The presser called by the group was however blocked by security forces, forcing the group to issue the statement online.

A news report by Wazema Radio said that the group of CSOs was warned by a senior government official who criticized the statement for failing to “consider the danger” the country was facing now and failing to “explain the damage done by the TPLF.”

According to Jima “following the changes in Ethiopia, more than 4000 organizations are operating legally in order to fully guarantee the right of civil society organizations to organize” and that most of these organizations are working in compliance with the law of the country.

However, he accused some of them for “standing against the interests of the country and the people, wasting money coming in the name of the people, committing embezzlement and secretly acting as couriers for foreign agents to betray the country’s sovereignty”, according to the news.

According to the Director General CSOs have been given a wide opportunity to expand the space for democracy in Ethiopia, but their duty to work independently of political influences and prioritize the interests of the country and its people. CSOs that work “contrary to this objective and work against the sovereignty of the country and the interests of the people will be held accountable by law.”

The Authority has taken legal actions against such organizations found to be operating outside of their established purposes, he said, adding that last year alone, warning letters were sent to organizations that were found to have violated the law, and action was taken against three organizations to revoke their legal licenses. Similar actions will continue to be taken against those who violate the law in the future.

Jima further urged individuals and organizations to refrain from actions of trying to fulfill their own and traitors’ hidden agenda by sacrificing the interests of the country. CSOs that are found to be a hindrance to “Ethiopia’s struggle to maintain its sovereignty,” will not escape legal responsibility.

On a positive note, Jima mentioned that most of the civil society organizations stand for the public good and support the country when it is in crisis. he cited in-kind and financial support of more than 460 million birr pledged by CSOs to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed Ethiopia’s civil war “waged by the TPLF” as an example. More preparations are being made to gather additional support, he said. AS

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