By Medihane Ekubamichael @Medihane
Addis Abeba – The opposition party, Balderas for True Democracy, said that the National Dialogue Commission formation has “failed before its formation” because the government has “debilitated the National Dialogue Commission appointment” by abandoning inclusive process. In an emergency statement issued by the party on 21 February, shortly after lawmakers approved the list of 11 commissioners for the Dialogue Commission, the party stated that the appointments of the commissioners were approved without setting clear criteria for selecting the candidates.
The statement identified the Federal Constitution, TPLF and the ruling Prosperity Party, as the main causes of the multi-faceted problems and wars that Ethiopia was facing at the moment; and further argued that a national dialogue was necessary to overcome these wars and conflicts. The Party recognized that Ethiopia was in the process of establishing its first National Dialogue Commission in its history.
But Balderas recalled an earlier statement, where it demanded the Commission to be led by an independent body, if possible, to bring about a successful peace and to preserve national unity, and said all relevant parties should be involved and such a process should be led in an inclusive manner.
The statement also underlined that a party that caused the problem may be part of the solution, but should never be the leader of the process. Moreover, the government has been isolating key stakeholders, including political parties, civic institutions, and religious institutions and has been running the process with disregard to such stakeholders.
referring to the House of People’s Representatives approval of the appointments of eleven commissioners, as an exercise without setting clear criteria for the selection the candidates. It accordingly expressed its fear that this situation could lead the country into more complicated problems.
Balderas called on all Ethiopians to stand with it and object the process, which it referred to as “a plot full of conspiracies.”
On February 21 the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HoPR) convened a special session and appointed eleven individuals who will become commissioners of the National Dialogue Commission. It followed the approval on 29 December by the House of Proclamation No. 1265/2014 to establish the National Dialogue Commission (NDC) with majority vote with 13 nos and one abstention. Subsequently the HoPR’s Standing Committee on Law, Justice and Democracy said Commissioners who will be leading the National Dialogue Commission will be selected by the people of Ethiopia and their appointments will be approved by the Parliament. On 04 January, the HoPR issued a shortlist of 42 people out of 600 names who it said were nominated by the public to lead the Dialogue Commission.
However, political parties have expressed reservations on the process by the Parliament and called for review. On 14 February, Ethiopian Political Parties Joint Council (EPPJC), a coalition of more than 53 legally registered political parties in Ethiopia including the ruling PP, has issued a statement requesting the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) to “temporarily halt” the ongoing proceedings to select the eleven commissioners to lead the planned National Dialogue Commission (NDC). It requested the parliament to resume the process in an “inclusive and trustworthy” manner.
EPPJC’s statement was issued in the backdrop of the a statement by the Parliament announcing a shortlist of 42 people who it said were nominated by the public to lead the Dialogue Commission.
Already, three main opposition parties: Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) issued a statement saying the process of the nomination of Commissioners was not impartial [OFC], was unknown [OLF] and lacked representation [ONLF]. AS