Ethiopian Leaders Must Get Direct Votes of the People

Ethiopian-political-parties-meetingFebruary 3, 2019 ( - Leaders of Ethiopian political parties met this week to exchange ideas on the way forward for Ethiopia. During the meeting, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Ethiopian leaders must get direct votes of the people.

Numerous political parties were represeneted in the meeting, incluidng the ruling party, EPRDF (Ethiopian People's Revlutionary Democratic Front), Ginbot 7, Semaywai Party, as well regional parties from Oromia, Tigray and elsewhere.

During the discussion Prime Minister Abiy stressed the need to make sure that the country will be led by the leader who got direct votes of the people, and not by political elites who often claim representing the people without getting direct votes of the people. Ethiopian politics must transcended beyond the limits of one constituency, said the Prime Minister.

It is not clear if he was implying change to his own party as well, the EPRDF, which is based as a coalition of regional parties, including the Oromo Democratic Front (ODP) he represents.

Prime Minister Abiy also stressed the need for tolerance, saying “everyone has value to add; no one individual or party has solution exclusively.’

He urged political parties to narrow their differences and come together and form alliances to serve the interest of the people they represent.

Semayawi Party Chairperson Yeshiwas Assefa said the forum was organized with a key objective of nurturing the peaceful exchange of political thoughts in this period of political transition.

Leaders of other political parties are expected to present papers at the meeting, according to the Office of the Prime Minister.

The current meeting is a continuation of the conference Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed opened in November 2018 where several political parties met and opened dialogue among themselves.

Ethiopia has over 80 political parties, most of which are ethic-based and regional parties.

Curently, there is a strong push to form larger, Ethiopia-wide, or citizen-based, political parties. Recently, four Ethiopia-wide political parties have agreed to merge and form one citizen-based party. In a press conference last month, the Semayawi Party (Blue Party), Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP), Patriotic Ginbot 7, and Unity Party (UP) said they are forming a new party. No details were given as to the name of the new party or its leadership.

Ethiopia is currently going through a profound change politically, one that has brought both hope and anxiety to its people. Although there is considerable opening of the political space in the country, at least in the interim, there is also a widespead perception among the public the rule of law has degraded in some parts of the country, theatening the unity and stability of the country.



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