#NewsAlert: OFC, ONLF say Dialogue Commission process unrepresentative, not impartial; decline Parliament invitation today

Addis Abeba – Three opposition parties Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) said the process of Ethiopia’s planned National Dialogue and the nomination of Commissioners to lead it is not impartial [OFC], unknown [OLF] and lacked representation [ONLF].

Addis Standard has confirmed from the three parties that their leaders have declined to join a meeting today which was called by Tagesse Chafo, Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR). The meeting was called by the Speaker to discuss the list of nominees.

It was on December 29 that the House approved the Commission’s establishment Proclamation No. 1265/2014 by 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.

Late this afternoon, the HoPR has issued a shortlist of 42 people who were nominated by the public to lead the National Dialogue Commission (NDC).

Professor Merera Gudina, Chairman of the OFC, confirmed to Addis Standard that party representatives did not go to the meeting called by the HoPR’s Speaker. “We do not believe that it is impartial,” Merera said, adding that the party has recently sent a letter to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressing its reservation on the transparency and inclusiveness in the process. But “we haven’t received a response.”

Tiruneh Gemta, OFC Secretariat, told Addis Standard that the letter raised a a concern about the commission’s impartiality. “The dialogue should be commissioned by accepted bodies by the public if not by internationally recognized independent bodies. However, the fact that the dialogue is overseen by the parliament led by the ruling party will not bring a lasting solution as it will not include opposition parties as well as armed groups,” the statement sent to the PM’s office reads. Senior members of the party, inclusing Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba and Hamza Borena, as well as several others who were arrested shortly after the assassination of popular Oromo artist Hachalu Hundessa were released On January 07 in what the government said was in preparation for the national dialogue.

Similarly, Lemi Gemechu, Public Relations head of the OLF, told Addis Standard today that the party doesn’t know “what the dialogue is about. We were not invited.” Although members of the OFC are released from detention, majority of OLF’s senior leadership remain either detained or missing. Many were set free on court bail but were rearrested by the police.

Abdi Mahdiz, Chairman the ONLF), told Addis Standard that the party has “already tested the sincerity of the current processes in Ethiopia, like the so called election,” he said, adding that the “ONLF has issued a statement a week ago outlining what we consider a fair and legitimate process to establish a National dialogue commission. The selection of such a committee must involve all key stakeholders. What we see is a one party affair that is not representative. In addition as a member of the Multinational Federal democratic alliance, our key members are sidelined. Thus, the hope of starting a genuine dialogue that could find a viable solution to all injustices and political quagmire in Ethiopia is in jeopardy. A one party affair will never address the current political crisis in Ethiopia.” 

“Unless a genuine participatory process is put in place that reflects the interest of key stakeholders representing their respective communities,” Abdi Mahdiz further said adding “the ONLF will not be attending any process with regards to the national dialogue and the national dialogue commission’s selection process.” AS

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