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Ethiopian diaspora invited to discuss constitutional reform

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After more than two years of conflict, the people of Ethiopia are discussing peace and a new constitution. Image credit: Unsplash

Ethiopian diaspora invited to discuss constitutional reform

The American Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee (AEPAC) has launched a new platform to engage the one million strong diaspora community in the United States with the national dialogue underway in Ethiopia by addressing constitutional reform, the single most important issue.

In recent years Ethiopia has endured a war, ethnic-based violence, religion-based attacks, intra-state conflicts, and atrocities that have caused untold misery, death, and displacement.

Amid these challenges the Ethiopian Government has established a commission to engage the public in a national dialogue by Proclamation 1265-2021 which took effect on December 29, 2021.

The national dialogue has been designed to foster unity in the country, to help end the ongoing conflict, and to prevent any future atrocities.

The Proclamation directed the Commission to identify different political and opinion leaders and to stimulate debate about national issues through studies, public discussions, or other appropriate modalities, to organise dialogue and to facilitate deliberations. At the end of the process, the Commission’s mandate is to submit its recommendation to the House of People’s Representatives.

Constitutional reform most important (Ethiopian diaspora invited to discuss constitutional reform)

According to Mesfin Tegenu, Chairman of AEPAC, the most important issue is constitutional reform in Ethiopia.

“The current constitution has failed the country. Instead of providing a vehicle to resolve national disputes, it has served as a foundation for fuelling existing conflicts and creating new ones.

“Instead of providing a framework to promote equality, freedom, democratic rights (at federal, state, and local levels), protect minority rights, and freedom of movement, it has served as a tool of rampant repression and a means to justify violence. The constitution does not even meet the basic democratic principles of separation of powers,” says Tegenu.

An end to polarisation (Ethiopian diaspora invited to discuss constitutional reform)

With the creation of the diaspora dialogue platform, AEPAC will facilitate a discussion on ways to bring about an end to the political polarisation in the country on a range of issues, including the ethnic divisions that plague Ethiopia, the constitution, the type of federalism the country needs to implement, the rights of the individual citizen, and the implementation of the rule of law, among others.

AEPAC’s platform will give the Ethiopian American and the global Ethiopian community a channel to share thoughts on the big challenges facing Ethiopia.

“We are delighted to have created this platform to give the diaspora a strong voice in the national dialogue process.

“Our ambition is to engage in the national dialogue and share our collective experience from across the globe.

“It is time to promote citizenship and national identity while promoting and celebrating ethnic, cultural, and religious diversities and create a true federal system at federal, state, and local levels. It can be done, and the diaspora are ready to support that process.

“We also call upon the US government and other friendly nations to positively support this effort if a true 21st century US-Africa partnership was to materialize,” says Tegenu.

This initiative will be coordinated by Ethiopian American lawyers Derege Demissie and Mesfin Tegenu. An organising committee and a large advisory group will shortly be created with input from the public. The organising committee will solicit scholarly articles, hold public discussions and debates to raise awareness of the various constitutional issues.

The insights and analysis will be packaged as recommendations and sent to the National Dialogue Commission in Ethiopia for consideration and inclusion in their final report to House of People’s Representatives.

Ethiopian diaspora invited to discuss constitutional reform

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Ethiopian diaspora invited to discuss constitutional reform

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