- Vision Ethiopia, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio (ESAT), organized a two-day conference entitled “Roadmap for Transition and Constitution Making in Post-Conflict Ethiopia”, on October 22 and 23, 2016. The Conference was convened at Georgetown Marriot Hotel, Washington D.C., was graced by the presence of several Ethiopians of all backgrounds, including, experts on constitutional making, conflict resolution and peace building, political scientists, scholars, men and women of the arts, former diplomats, and members of the clergy and leaders of civic organizations.
The conference addressed in depth the current situation in Ethiopia and explored the pre-conditions, modalities, and pathways for establishing a stable post-conflict social, economic and political order in the country. The conference deliberated and examined the root causes of the crisis engulfing the country and the implications of the declaration of State of Emergency by the ruling party.
A. Conference participants discussed the atrocities being committed by the ruling party, paid tribute to all those killed by the regime and send their condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims; acknowledged the sufferings of those injured and those who were sent to prisons for demanding their political rights.
B. Conference participants commends the courage of the patriotic Ethiopians all over the country for standing firm on demanding for freedom from repression, bad governance, and violations of their political and human rights.
C. The Conference recognizes the 2010 Virginia Declaration of the Conference on Good Governance, Peace, Security and Sustainable Development in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa;
D. Conference participants with different ethnic backgrounds have acknowledged the importance of ending TPLF’s divide-and-conquer policies, machinations, the building of alliances embracing shared beliefs and values, but acknowledging our differences in ways that promote respect and appreciation;
E. Conference participants emphasized the necessity of developing a collaborative and reconciliation effort by all Ethiopians towards establishing a new political order in Ethiopia where freedom, the rule of law, citizenship, and human rights are fully respected and practiced.
1. RECOGNIZING the recurrent failure of the Government of Ethiopia to respect its own Constitution and the widespread use of violence against citizens who demanded legitimate exercise of their political rights;
2. Deeply disturbed by the extra-judicial killings, violence, and massive arbitrary arrests and detention of peaceful protesters;
3. Cognizant of long practice of gross violations of fundamental rights and freedoms, relentless repression, harassment, brutality and impunity against the people of Ethiopia by the ruling regime;
4. Mindful of the fact that political power ultimately belongs to the Ethiopian people and the ruling regime has completely lost political legitimacy;
5. DEEPLY CONCERNED by the Prime Minister’s decision to give the military the cart blanch in areas where the protest demonstrations are widespread as a declaration of war on innocent citizens;
6. NOTING the refusal of the Government of Ethiopia for an independent investigation of the crisis by the United Nations Human Rights Council;
7. Alarmed by the declaration of State of Emergency by the Council of Ministers giving prelude to further repressive and violent measures under legal cover;
8. CONCERNED that the Government of Ethiopia high ranking officials are now talking about the disintegration of the country and a “Rwanda type genocide”; which many fear is a pretext for the mono ethnic top brass army to take extreme measures;
9. CONCERNED that the recent communique of the Executive Committee and the Central Committee of the ruling party have reduced the problem and appear to be legitimizing the killings and imprisonments rather than contributing to the search for a post conflict social, economic and political order and has failed to negotiate with its opponents;
10. Recognizing the necessity of reconciliation and justice in an effort to create an inclusive transitional and post-conflict political, social, administrative and economic order in Ethiopia;
NOW THEREFORE, it has become imperative to initiate a comprehensive and inclusive process to identify the road map for post-conflict political, social, and economic order. Accordingly, Conference participants declare a set of principles that ends the violence immediately and facilitate the reconciliation process towards establishing a transitional arrangement.
1.1. Stop killing and imprisonment of peaceful protesters in Ethiopia;
1.2. Allow an independent investigation of the violence and loss of life and property by a team of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations as well as International Organizations. Upon the findings of such independent investigations, hold those responsible fully accountable ;
1.3 Release all detainees including those in secret concentration camps;
1.4 Lift the State of Emergency and return the military to its barracks;
1.5 Release all political detainees, journalists, and prisoners of conscience without any precondition;
1.6 Put a halt to the dangerous hostile media and propaganda that instigates ethnic strives;
1.7 Respect the rule of law;
2. Roadmap for Confidence-Building Measures and Reconciliation
The national effort to end the violence and more importantly to establish the foundation for post-conflict political order, Conference participants outline the following confidence building measures, reconciliation effort, and willingness for all stakeholders to do their fair share in realizing a peaceful transition. Whereas it takes the effort of all Ethiopians and the international community to facilitate the smooth transition to durable peace in Ethiopia, Conference participants identify specific set of measures that need to be undertaken by the ruling party, opposition parties in the country, opposition forces abroad, Ethiopian citizens both at home and abroad to realize the potentials of the roadmap.
2.1. The Ruling party- TPLF/EPRDF:
Conference participants, members of Vision Ethiopia, Conference panelists recognize the fact that the instruments of violence is in the hands of the government and its security and military apparatus. Protesters and civilians have legitimate rights to demand a responsible, accountable, and effective government that delivers for the economic, political, social challenges of the public. Repressive methods and violence is not a legitimate solution for political demands. Serious violations of the rights of civilians, the abuse of political power, and widespread corruption have been widely recognized and even acknowledged the ruling regime itself. As a result, the government has lost legitimacy and the consent of the public. It is therefore critically important for the ruling party to accept the fact, muster the courage to create an atmosphere of confidence-building measures to:
(1) Declare clearly and full heartedly its commitment to peaceful and inclusive political dialogue with all stakeholders in the political issues of Ethiopia;
(2) Facilitate national dialogue on main political issues and modalities;
(3) Remove all and any obstacles for the peaceful and robust national dialogue in mapping out a new pathway for the establishment of a new political order;
(4) Ensure public and private media outlets are free to facilitate the exchange of political ideas, programs, and discussions so as to engage the larger public in the political process;
(5) Immediately rescind the ban on some political parties and liberation fronts;
(6) Demonstrate courage and confidence in the Ethiopian people and return political power to its true owners, the people of Ethiopia, and prepare to participate in the new post-conflict political order and environment;
(7) Appeal for its rank and file members to recognize the inevitability of transition so that smooth pathways could be secured on the basis of national unity, trust, reconciliation, and citizenship.
2.2. Council of Elders for the Transition
Conference participants have deliberated on a number of modalities and possibilities that carefully take into consideration the rich cultural, social, and reconciliation institutions of our society for millennia in search of effectively and peacefully addressing the contending demands of our current situation. Upon deliberation, participants underlined the importance of using our own traditional institutions of peaceful and just reconciliation. A system of reconciliation that provides mutually acceptable and honorable way out from the crisis situation.
Conference participants recommend the formation of an Ethiopian Council of Elders. Members of the Council are Ethiopians who have proved themselves and earn the respect of their communities for their unbiased, just, and fairness in dealing with issues of conflict, justice, moral independence, and humbleness. Participants of the conference firmly support that the current crisis demands finding endogenous solutions for our political, social, and economic problems and every effort must be made to facilitate the functioning of the Council of Elders.
The Council of Elders should:
(1) On behalf of the people of Ethiopia, facilitate the peaceful, orderly, and smooth transition period until the formation of a new republic and the establishment of a new government;
(2) Uphold basic principles of UN Declarations on Human Rights, Freedom of Assembly and Association, Freedom of Religions, Freedom of Movement, Freedom of the Press, and Freedom of Life, and Rights of Citizenship;
(3) Invite all political parties including existing or new to engage fully in the political process and to communicate with their constituencies in public places throughout the country;
(4) Allow, facilitate and guarantee the unconditional return of all political exiles and provide security and safety of all returnees;
(5) Allow all stakeholders – political parties, civil society organizations, trade unions, students, youth, women organizations, religious leaders, etc. be full participants of the reconciliation and peace-building process;
(6) Declare acceptance and commitment to the outcomes of the National Constitutional Dialogue including a Transitional National Government.
(7) Allow and facilitate the establishment of Truth and Reconciliation Commission that will investigate and acknowledge those unlawfully and politically motivated killed, victims of torture, imprisoned, prosecuted;
(8) Establish an independent, non-partisan, and effective Electoral Board and allow the selection and appointment non-partisan, independent, autonomous, fully representative national electoral board/commission that earns the trust and support of the Ethiopian people;
(9) Allow and guarantee a level playing field to all contesting political parties in the drafting of the National Charter and elections;
(10) Create conducive environment for the media and civil society to operate freely;
(11) Conduct a fair, free, credible election and transfer political power to the newly elected party or coalition of parties.
2.3. Opposition Parties
Conference participants recognize that the Ethiopian people are yearning for new leaders. In order to ensure democracy, peace, the rule of law, accountability, and freedom, it is critically important that all political parties should aspire to achieve political power only through the consent of the electorate. Establishing the political institutions that create suitable environment for credible electoral processes, and political accountability. Conference participants call upon all opposition parties operating now or those that may emerge in the future to adhere to the central principles that respect the ultimate source of political power is the general electorate. To facilitate the full participation of opposition parties in the Ethiopian political process, we call up on all parties and coalitions to:
(1) Immediately convene to establish a new political order in Ethiopia;
(2) Come together and negotiate in good faith to collaborate in drafting the National Charter, appointing members of the Constitutional Drafting Commission and methods of ratifying it;
(3) Demonstrate a willingness to reciprocate goodwill gestures to opposition groups, including members of the ruling party;
(4) Promote internal party democracy;
(5) Negotiate and agree, in good faith, to establish a Transitional/Interim Council/Government.
2.4. The International and Donor Community
Conference participants recognize the role of the international community and a number of donor countries in playing an enabling role in the current or future governments of Ethiopia. It is to the long term interest of the international community and donor countries for the emergence of a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Ethiopia at peace with itself and its neighboring countries. Conference participants, therefore, call upon the international and donor community to:
(1) facilitate the effort of the Ethiopian people towards establishing a post-conflict political order;
(2) put pressure and encourage on the ruling party to seriously consider convening an inclusive conference for a National Charter;
(3) provide technical and independent assistance for all political parties and coalitions in their earlier effort to build organizational structures and political programs;
(4) Encourage and assist all parties for an inclusive dialogue;
(5) Assist for free and fair elections, the respect of the rule of law, democracy;
(6) Encourage and put pressure on all parties so that women, minorities, and the under privileged will be provided equal opportunities in drafting the National Charter, appointing Constitution Writing Commission and in all walks of life;
2.5. The Ethiopian People at Large
The Ethiopian population has never been fully in control of its political power. In the long and successive history of Ethiopia, Ethiopian rulers have always deprived the citizens to exercise their legitimate political rights and resorted to brutal violence to eliminate actual or potential threat to their exclusive abuse of power. Conference participants recognize the central importance of a full and complete transition to the birth of a new republic in which all Ethiopian citizens equally live and exercise their political power. It is time politics is guided only by the consent of the electorate as expressed in fair and free election with full accountability for the breach of trust by the public. Never again should the Ethiopian population be subjected to repression, political violence, corruption and injustice. To ensure a new, peaceful, inclusive, and democratic political system emerges in Ethiopia, Conference participants call upon the Ethiopian people to:
(1) stay vigilant and protect your political rights;
(2) hold all political parties and politicians accountable for breach of trust, inefficiency, and political corruption;
(3) recognize the fact that our diversity in unity is our strength and the building block for peace and prosperity;
(4) pressure and reject violence or the use of violence for the settlement of disagreements and differences;
(5) appeal to all Ethiopian citizens both at home and in the Diaspora to engage in the political, economic, and social life of their country;
(6) cultivate the politics of inclusivity and mutual cooperation to address the diverse economic, social, political, and environmental challenges of the country;
(7) And, cultivate and reinvigorate the political culture of accountability, justice, freedom, equality, and the honor of Ethiopiawinet.
This concludes the Conference on “Roadmap for Transition and Constitution Making in Post-Conflict Ethiopia.”
This Declaration was agreed and transmitted on October 23rd, 2016, at the Georgetown Marriot Hotel, Washington D.C., 1221 22nd St NW, Washington, DC 20037.