Nat’l Dialogue Ideal Forum To Leverage Ethiopia’s Peace Building Endeavour

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 In Ethiopia, like elsewhere in the world, peaceful life is not granted but is constitutionally guaranteed and protected by the government as a natural right of its people. The people of Ethiopia have fought many foreign and internal wars to safeguard their unity and have endured painful conflicts and campaigns that ravaged the country for thousands of years.

Ethiopia has never invaded any country near or afar but was time and again forced to repulse those forces who attempted to disrupt the territorial integrity in a bid to annex the country. The country remained the most conspicuous country that has never been colonized by foreign forces.  

Over the last four years, Ethiopia withstood foreign terrorist rampages and ethnocentric conflicts that plagued the country in an unprecedented manner. Those who were busy seeking to fish in troubled waters labored from dawn to dusk to deny the country of its rights to development, utilizing its natural resources for the benefit of its people.   

The quest for peace in the country emanates from the fact that “life without war serves as the primary international prerequisite for the material well-being, development and progress of countries, and for the full implementation of the rights and fundamental human freedoms proclaimed by the United Nation”,( UN Resolution).

Ever since the inception of the national reform program began in 2018, the Government of Ethiopia paid a special attention to the promotion of peace and reconciliation as the core value of governance and sustainable development programs. It released thousands of inmates and political prisoners who were languishing in the dungeons and secret prisons across the country as a good will gesture for the prevalence of peace in the country. Political parties who were operating in foreign lands were provided with amnesty to come back home and engage in the democratic process and development of peaceful life in the country.

Prior to the tragic incident of November 3, 2020 in which ENDF’ northern command was attacked, the government made repeated efforts to ensure peaceful dialogue and reconciliation with the TPLF which regrettably responded with three rounds of the most devastating war in northern Ethiopia covering the regions of Tigray, Afar and Amhara. It is noted that Ethiopia’ right to enforce law and order had been,  sadly,  responded with multiple  challenges by some international forces. Yes, the war that was fought between brothers in Ethiopia should have been avoided. The war has only resulted in the death of many innocent citizens, massive displacement, and destruction of infrastructure facilities as well as damages on public and private properties. And it only created an opportune moment for enemies of Ethiopia to intensify their propaganda campaign—false narrative—i.e. misinformation and disinformation by the international media houses to destroy the unity and image of the country.

Now, the war in the northern parts of Ethiopia, which has been going on for two years,  has been resolved through peace agreement signed between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and TPLF.

If I digress a little more on what the post conflict period requires in northern parts of the country,  relief and rehabilitation support must be intensified to war affected areas. While the Government of Ethiopia has been making relentless efforts to provide humanitarian assistance in restoring basic services as well as building destroyed infrastructure facilities in conflict affected areas, the commitment of international partners and countries is far below the required level. At least, all the rhetoric which had been expressed on international media outlets, calling for assistance to war conflict regions before the peace agreement, must not be a lip service but practical gesture must be extended for the Government of Ethiopia has created conducive situations for unfettered humanitarian access to Tigray through four corridors and air transport.

So, international support should reach children who were out of school for two years and subjected to hunger, destitution, severe depression and traumas. The disruption of the family fabric and separation of children from their families has resulted in family disintegration. This calls for massive international gesture to support the efforts of the federal government—i.e in food and non-food supplies, rebuilding schools and health facilities and the likes.

Coming back to the earlier points of discussion, consolidating peace has been the cardinal value of the incumbent government from day one. It had been reiterating that the Tigray people had endured enough of it. But the repeated call was not heeded.

Of course, the bad day for Ethiopia has gone away. Members of the ENDF have shed their  blood to defend the dignity, peace and territorial integrity of the country. The war was supported by foreign forces that were out to permanently destabilize the country so that it would remain under vicious circle of abject poverty.

The political elites must respect the aspirations of the general public. Peace requires genuine dialogue and discussions, not mere rhetoric. The people of Ethiopia must be heard, consulted and engage in peace building efforts across the country.

To this end, National Dialogue Commission has concluded its preparations to begin discussions on fundamental issues  of the country. This is an ideal forum for all pollical entities in Ethiopia to constructive engage in the process. Peace never comes through guns or violence. This is evident in the political history that Ethiopia has passed through to date. Lessons must be drawn from what Ethiopia has experienced through its history.

The National Dialogue forum will be an opportunity that comes once in a blue moon— in a sense that if political groups properly utilize it, the  forum will pave the way for Ethiopia’s bright future. The national dialogue must be exploited to expound on differences while building on common interest of national significance. That is how a country is built and passed on to posterity.  

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