ADDIS ABEBA – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met with political parties on Wednesday as a continuation of the discussions initiated and ongoing since 2018.
Today’s discussion was focused on two issues – a way forward for political party dialogue on various issues of national interest, and current issues including development endeavors and peace and security.
On the first issue, participants agreed to resume political party level deliberations on key national issues agreed upon, with an upcoming meeting convening on the theme of ‘National Consensus’, according to the PM office.
It said the agreement “was reached to ensure that the upcoming discussions will be based on presentation of study papers, reflecting international best practices and national historical perspectives”.
On the discussions related to current issues, some of the key points raised by political parties include the Grand Ethiopian renaissance dam or GERD, COVID-19 pandemic, institution building and Election as well as Peace and Security.
On the issue of GERD, the PM office reported that the parties expressed their support for the progress being made.
They also admonished internal forces colluding with external elements to sabotage efforts being undertaken, it said.
The parties also expressed support for the government’s measures undertaken and efforts to mitigate the spread while raising concerns of unconstitutional unilateral actions being undertaken by the Tigray regional government to hold regional level elections.
They called the region’s move to hold the election “in violation of the country’s constitutional order and called for enforcement of rule of law for actions being taken against the constitution”, according to the PM office.
Additional points raised include the need to maintain rule of law and indicated as well as check within government structures for extremists and remnants of the previous order that are working against the reforms.
On institution building, the participants of the meeting “expressed the need to ensure the rule of law and take measures to redress the past unjust practices within law enforcement and judicial processes and institutional setups”.
Prime Minister Abiy expressed the importance of peaceful engagement, the value of open ideas sharing and showing respect to one another in the political discourse.
“Strength rests in ideas and not a show of muscles,” he emphasized.
On institution building, the PM noted that it’s a long-term process that should not be viewed in simplistic terms.
He, however, acknowledged the presence of “individuals and thievery embedded within government structures that are against the reforms and working in that regard”.
The PM affirmed that the internal clearing process will continue and institutional bottlenecks gradually unlocked.
On peace and security, he shared that the perspective that orchestrators of destruction should not be apprehended because they are political party members is wrong.
Abiy further emphasized that all political contestations should be within the playing field – not outside of the field, against the rules of the proverbial game and against institutions set up to govern political contestations for power.
On recent arrests
Abiy emphasized that government and ruling party leaders and members are also being apprehended for the role they played or failed to play in recent incidents, and therefore the measures should not be viewed in simplistic terms as targeting competing parties.
Rather all that needs to be held accountable will be held to account, according to the PM.
He further shared, “we do not seek anyone to be at a health risk and any detention conditions that need to be corrected will be addressed”.
“However, the rule of law is supreme and mediators coming to me for the release of apprehended individuals, while noble in their compassion, are erroneous in their approach, as expecting such measures compromises the judicial process. I do not personally decide who gets arrested and who gets released,” he said.
Lastly, on the issue of unconstitutional regional elections, Prime Minister Abiy shared that the Federal government has no desire to take armed measures against belligerent regional governments.
Although there are clear provocations with the expectation for Federal government to respond forcefully, there are constitutional processes and institutions that govern the country and such will prevail, the PM office reported Abiy as saying.