Parliament to approve dialogue commission establishment

The draft bill to establish the Ethiopian National Dialogue Commission has been tabled to the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR), with approval expected to be in a short period, government officials indicate.
On Saturday December 25, 2021, the House of People’s Representative started a public hearing on the overall proclamation and national dialogue to launch the much anticipated all inclusive dialogue.
On its second regular meeting held on December 10, the Council of Ministers discussed the draft proclamation establishing the Ethiopian National Dialogue Commission and passed a draft proclamation in establishing the commission.
The nationwide dialogue is said to bring together the various political interests in the country, in order to facilitate an all-inclusive national dialogue. The commission will be an impartial and independent organ of the Federal Government with its own legal personality and is to be accountable to the House of Peoples’ Representatives.
According to the draft proclamation, the term of the office is three years though if necessary the term may be extended by the HPR. As experts suggest, the dialogue could take from three to five years.
The commission has the responsibility to craft the agenda for the dialogue, organize the dialogues and facilitate deliberations and organize and convene dialogue forums at the federal and regional levels that would bring about national consensus with the participation of representatives of various segments of society drawn from the entire country after identifying and enabling participants to take part at a national dialogue conference in accordance with clear criteria and procedures.
As indicated on the draft, the Commission shall have eleven commissioners, appointed by the HPR based upon nomination by the Prime Minister; also commissioners should not be a member of any political party.
As Indicated on the draft, commissioners have immunity from criminal prosecution during the course of their service unless one is caught in flagrante delicto or one’s immunity is stripped by the HPR.
Regarding the budget, the commission is said to get its budget from the government. Notwithstanding, the Commission may collect fund from other provision legal sources as well.
Demands for a national dialogue have become rather extensive since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) came to power following widespread protests across the nation.
“There are difference in opinions and disagreements among various opinion leaders and segments of society in Ethiopia on the most fundamental national issues and it is a necessity to alleviate and resolve the differences and disagreements through broad based inclusive public dialogue that engenders national consensus,” explains the proclamation to establish the Ethiopian National Dialogue Commission on the importance of the dialogue.
The national initiative for a national dialogue in the country is being run by a consortium of civil society organizations, political parties and the government as an entity under the name Multi stakeholder Initiative for National Dialogue (MIND-Ethiopia). The initiative was launched in August 2020, by eight organizations drawn from civic societies, the government and political parties. Over the past one year, MIND has been holding dialogues at different levels with various representatives of the general public including political parties, local level community members, media stakeholders, historians, and the government.
Since its establishment, MIND Ethiopia has been developing a concept note on the National Dialogue, preparing a strategic plan, setting up an institutional arrangement, developing a code of conduct and communication strategy.

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