Highlights of President’s address to joint session of the two Houses

On Monday, October 9, 2023 the President of the FDRE Sahle-Work Zewde opened the joint session of the two Houses in the presence of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD). As per the constitution of the FDRE the president opens the two Houses for the yearly activities on the last Monday of the first month of the Ethiopian year and that was based on this precept that the head of state was present in parliament to deliver her opening speech in which she highlighted the major programs of the government for the new year.

In her address the president made a long introductory remark regarding the country not only of the present but also with a historical perspective. She highlighted how Ethiopia was a major country not only in Africa but also the world at large for her ancient civilization and glorious history that academics have witnessed in their accounts and researches. But she also did not shun from highlighting the dangers that the country can ran unless certain current tendencies, certain historical narratives are rectified and used in a way that can build our nation avoiding past mistakes or those that are perceived as such and continue to unduly haunt us.

She said when we were united and faced any problems we managed to resolve them and it is division that continues to keep us back from growing as we should. She said that the country has paid dearly due to various sorts of intestinal conflicts that have really hurt us. It stopped us from advancing forward and meets all our economic plans and prospects.

There were enormous losses only recently alone when we engaged in the conflict in the north and that has left lots of wounds and scars among our society she said. It was an avoidable conflict if we had only followed the peaceful path of discussing our problems around a table in a civilized manner and it is a pity that there are still similar problems today while we have the chance to use the formation of the National Dialogue Commission to present all our views and work towards understanding and accommodate our differences as much as possible with the principle of give and take.

She said resorting to violence has always been damaging and not worth it because in conflicts there can be only one winner and the other party may lose, but if we use discussions and negotiations all parties involved are winners and that is what this government intends to do this year and the coming ones.

The doors for discussion and negotiation are always open and this is a principle of this government. It is well known that resorting to armed rebellion against the state cannot be tolerated because the government has the responsibility to keep its people safe and sound and guarantee their livelihoods in a peaceful environment. It should be underlined that there cannot be tolerance for violent means to advance claims or resolve problems. The president warned that this path is not tolerable and cannot be left to thrive.

Our people needs to narrow the differences as much as we can and share values and look for building up a united country that can be up to the challenge of facing successfully the demands of the epoch, what is needed to thrive in a world full of complications and challenges, as well as multiple geopolitical issues.

Whatever mistakes might have been committed in the past need to be rectified and serve us as a guide not to do it again. We cannot let ourselves be prisoners of any eventual past mistakes or miscalculations and we need not lose this golden opportunity of making the best out of the National Dialogue Commission which has been in action now for the last one and a half years and has been preparing the ground work such as selecting agendas, issues and participants from various zones of the country and is soon to embark on the phase of discussions.

Every national and every group is invited to take part through their representatives and be part of the solution rather than the problem. The president has urged people to take part in these discussions and not miss this opportunity because she said we have missed several others in the past.

.First and foremost the president said the main objective of this government for this year is to secure reliable and sustainable peace throughout the country. We need to adopt a new common shared national narrative for all. It we can’t do this, the fancied advancement and progress as well as prosperity will be difficult to attain. .

We will use all avenues of peace for all while we are firm on our stance to secure the rule of law throughout the nation. Our doors for peace are however always open and we need to insist on this so that there are no misperceptions because this is a critical stance the president underlined. To this end the National Dialogue Commission which was established a few years ago is a true opportunity and we need not squander it.

The president said that the dissemination of false stories and fake news has reached alarming levels and it needs to be controlled. Citizens must refrain from actions that try to disseminate hate and distrust among communities using false narratives and using inflammatory language and in the current age of technological advancement these words penetrate every household and the dangers are clear.

There is no doubt she said that we should always be ready to learn from our past mistakes and not repeat them or be prisoners of those mistakes casting a dark shadow on our path to move forward. .

The equality among citizens must be guaranteed, the president said and building peace through negotiations is a priority for us. When all parties are represented in the political landscape freely and equally this will help us move forward and achieve our socio-economic objectives.

Again the National Dialogue is the best chance to give an opportunity for all sides in the social and political spectrum and contribute to an agreement. Our differences must be narrowed as much as we can and the country should reflect the faces of all communities.

The president has referred to Ethiopia of the past and mentioned how a major civilized state it was and how history is witness to this fact. And to have this chance again the National Dialogue is the opportunity to continue to write new history she said. Ethiopia should win and for that violence and conflicts should be abandoned as a means to solve problems or iron out differences of viewpoints or ideologies. Everyone should present their case and work toward resolving differences without considering resorting to violence or use of force. She said it must be known that the government is the sole authority which has the prerogative to use force legitimately.

The Pretoria Peace Deal has opened a new opportunity to a new era of peace, but there are still challenges in the country that we need to cope with together standing as one. Talking about the economy the president said that it should be noted that our economy has continued to grow despite the multiple challenges the country has been facing both internally as well as externally.

Last year the economy registered a growth of 7.5 percent and this year we work to attain 7.9 % she noted. There has been diversification in the economy so that we do not rely only on a few items only and there are now more beneficiaries from the economic growth. There have been created more than three million jobs last year and in the next three years more than nine million jobs are expected to be created. As regards foreign employment chances there have been agreements with several countries to send as many as half a million people for employment this year she noted.

Following the adoption of the Ten Year Development Plan there has been assessments of how the economy is doing and the biggest challenge has been inflation and the government is doing all it can to resolve this problem that has been causing sufferance particularly to the lower classes of people with low incomes. The biggest solution to lessen the impact of inflation is to increase internal production and avoid relying on imports that cost us huge amounts of foreign currency. Strict fiscal policies will be adopted she said to lessen the impact of inflation.

Another huge challenge to our country the president mentioned in her address is corruption and we have to do away with this respecting the rule of law, applying strictly the law. There should be more control in this regard and contraband and illegal trade is also another huge challenge we face and need to combat fiercely.

All in all the president’s address had a note of optimism but with caution inviting citizens to work with the government respecting the rules of peaceful life and doing all they can to avoid being accomplices of illegal ventures in every sense. A united Ethiopia has unlimited potential was her core message.


The Ethiopian Herald October 12/2023

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