Mekelle Forum on Federalism Concludes

By Staff Reporter

Mekelle-MeetingDecember 4, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- Tigray Regional Government held its second national consultative forum under the theme "Rescuing the Constitution and Federal System," on December 3, 2019, in Mekele city, Northern Ethiopia. The forum ran for two days and concluded on December 4, 2019.

The national consultative forum brought together various political party leaders and invited guests from across the country.

In his remark, the vice-president of the Tigray Regional Government and leader of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Dr. Debretsion G/Michael said the current state of affairs and general thinking doesn’t meet the needs of all Ethiopians and will eventually throw the country to violent upheaval. “We have seen our vulnerabilities due to conspiracies of internal and external forces to distract Ethiopia,” said Dr. Debretsion. “Peace is the very basis for our survivability; however, that has been taken away from all of us; there is a violation of the rule of law and the country’s constitution,” he added.

“The country is in a dangerous and frightening situation,” said the TPLF leader. Dr. Debretsion underscored that it is essential that we consider all options and answer every possible question that can provide stability and avoid further harm and destruction. “All patriotic Ethiopians must work together to achieve cohesion,” he said.

He added: "We should learn from our past history that our foreign enemies are not only weakening our country but are actively fighting to dismantle it; this forum should be an opportunity to send a wakeup call to all Ethiopians."

The TPLF has been voicing objections to the establishment of the unified party replacing the EPRDF for a while. In October this year, it called the move ‘illegal’ and declared that the alliance was going ‘off-tracks.’ During the formation of the Prosperity Party in November 2019, the TPLF was the lone holdout of the four-member organizations. TPLF leaders refused to attend the final meeting of the EPRDF Council that approved the new party and essentially dissolved the EPRDF. The TPLF was also not one of the eight-party coalition that signed the founding of the Prosperity Party.

Various participants from the second national consultative forum reflected their views that the federal system is under threat and the country is moving towards crisis. The participants agreed to hold follow up talks by organizing federalist forces, different political organizations, and minority ethnic groups to rescue the federal system.

One theme that was repeatedly stressed was that 'federalism is at stake' with the transition from EPRDF to the Prosperity Party. Many felt the merging will lead to a unitary system that will crush minority interests and destroy the existing federalism in Ethiopia.

Tolosa Tesfaye, the chairman of the Oromo National Congress, who participated in the talks, started his speech by stating that the organizer of the forum was not TPLF. According to him, about 50 political parties were invited by the standing committee of the forum during the first meeting held in October last year. This is the first time he participated in the forum, he said.

"In the past 27 years, the federal system wasn’t democratically applied; there have been restrictions on languages that led to an identity crisis," Mr. Tolosa said.

Tolosa Tesfaye deplored the poor security situation in the country, the violation of constitutional rights, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of citizens. "And the current administration has come up with the idea of 'Medemer' rather than answering the people's demands," he said.

Tolosa Tesfaye called the Prosperity Party illegal. “If this party is not legal, then who is leading the country? Are the people governed by a party whom they don’t know?” he questioned.

The national consultative forum, which began on December 3, 2019, has ended today, December 4, 2019.

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