Consultations with stakeholders in Ethiopia vital for developing common narratives

Over the last several weeks, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (Ph.D) conferred with representatives of competing political parties, leaders of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, heads of federal and regional Islamic Council, leaders of evangelical churches, teachers, members of the business community, representatives of CSOs and a number of other stakeholders on issues of national importance related to peaceful development.

Such consultative meetings provide a cornerstone for constructive and inclusive dialogue between the elements of the political system which the author believes include political parties, government institutions, professional associations, CSOs, religious institutions, trade union and other sectors of the society. This is important because timely and proper communication between all concerned stakeholders on nation building is of greater importance for the continuity of the statehood of the country and for the country’s position among the nations of the world.

They also provide a good ground for the promotion of empowered democratic institutions in Ethiopia. Democratic institutions play a crucial role in national development by fostering good governance, accountability, transparency, and inclusivity. Conducting such discussions with the leadership of the country is important for their accelerated promotion and the role that they can play in enhancing comprehensive socio-economic development of the country.

Democratic countries have systems of representative government where citizens elect officials to represent their interests and make decisions on their behalf. These elected representatives, such as members of parliament or congress, council of ministers play a key role in formulating laws, policies, and budgets that promote national development. What therefore are the components of these democratic institutions?

An independent judiciary ensures the rule of law and protects citizens’ rights by interpreting and applying the law impartially and in a democratic manner. A strong and impartial judiciary is essential for upholding property rights, enforcing contracts, resolving disputes, and providing legal recourse for citizens, businesses, and investors.

Regular, free, and fair elections are fundamental to democracy and national development. They provide citizens with the opportunity to choose their leaders, hold them accountable, and peacefully transfer power. Transparent electoral processes strengthen political stability, legitimacy, and trust in government.

Civil society organizations, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community groups, and advocacy organizations, play a vital role in promoting democratic values, advocating for social justice, and holding governments accountable. They provide spaces for citizen participation, monitor government performance, and advocate for policy reforms that advance national development goals.

A free and independent media serves as a watchdog, informing citizens, exposing corruption, and holding government officials accountable. Media outlets provide diverse perspectives, facilitate public debate, and promote transparency and accountability in governance.

Decentralization of power and decision-making to local governments and communities can enhance citizen participation, responsiveness, and efficiency in service delivery. Local governments play a critical role in addressing grassroots development needs, promoting community empowerment, and fostering social cohesion.

Strong anti-corruption institutions and mechanisms are essential for combating corruption, promoting integrity, and safeguarding public resources. Independent anti-corruption agencies investigate allegations of corruption, prosecute offenders, and implement measures to prevent corruption in public institutions and private sector.

National human rights commissions or ombudsman offices monitor human rights violations, promote awareness of human rights principles, and provide redress for victims of abuse or discrimination. Upholding human rights is essential for fostering social justice, equality, and dignity for all citizens.

Sound public financial management institutions, including audit bodies, budget offices, and fiscal agencies, promote transparency, accountability, and efficiency in the management of public finances. They ensure that public resources are allocated and utilized effectively to support national development priorities.

Promoting education, civic engagement, and political participation among citizens is essential for building a culture of democracy and active citizenship. Educated and informed citizens are better equipped to participate in democratic processes, advocate for their rights, and contribute to national development efforts.

By strengthening these democratic institutions and promoting democratic values, countries can create an enabling environment for sustainable development, social justice, and inclusive growth.

Furthermore, the consultations conducted were held under the backdrop of the above mentioned democratic values and systems with the view of the government seeking feedback from various social and political institutions including competing political parties. The feedback from these institutions is of vital importance as inputs for the government either to rectify some government functions or build up on the growth areas.

Listening to public opinion helps the government to clearly understand the needs, interests, values and attitudes of the public and will help to mobilize the entire nation on a pathway that will ensure peaceful development of the country in every aspect of social and economic wellbeing of the people of Ethiopia.

The consultations provide ample opportunities for the Prime Minister and his government to provide the public with the latest developments on policy and strategic issues, national priority areas and concerns.

The discussions that Prime Minister Abiy has conducted with stakeholders contribute to democratic governance by promoting transparency, accountability, and citizen participation in decision-making processes. By involving diverse stakeholders in national dialogues, governments can build trust, foster civic engagement, and strengthen democratic institutions, thereby enhancing the overall legitimacy and effectiveness of governance.

The issue of the preservation of the sovereignty and peace of the country as well as issues of institutional significance and strategies elated to the economic challenges of the nation were cross cutting issues that were discussed on almost all the consultations and discussions over which the prime minister has presided.

As usual, some politicians and so called activists undermine the importance of public dialogue and try to speculate that nothing positive will come out of it. However, political developments over the last several years indicate that such discussions were useful in promoting common narratives on major socio-economic and political issues of the country.

Developing common political narratives in Ethiopia is crucial for fostering national unity, social cohesion, and inclusive governance amid the country’s diverse ethnic, linguistic, and cultural landscape.

As stated earlier, Prime Minister Abiy’s engagement in inclusive dialogue and consultation processes involving diverse stakeholders, including government representatives, political parties, civil society organizations, religious leaders, traditional elders, youth groups, women’s associations, and representatives of ethnic communities helps to enhance common political narratives between citizens and the government , create platforms for open, transparent, and constructive discussions on shared values, aspirations, and challenges facing the nation.




Recommended For You