Vision Ethiopia 3rd Conference Penultimate Program & Preparation Guide for Panelists

Vision Ethiopia Third Conference

Transition and Constitution Making in Post-Conflict Ethiopia

October 22 & 23, 2016

Marriot Georgetown Hotel, 1221 22nd Street, NW, Washington D.C
Penultimate Program & Preparation Guide for Panelists

Saturday, October 22
8:00 Registration and Coffee
9:00 Welcome, Master of Ceremonies
Ms. Birtawit Girmaye, Studio Manager ESAT
9:10 Prayer & Remembrance of the victims of the conflict in Ethiopian
Liqmaemeran Dr. Amare Kassaye, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church
His Grace Sheik Khalid Omer, Imam of First Hijrah Foundation
9:30Welcome, Ato Abebe Gelaw, Journalist & Executive Director of ESAT
9:40 Opening and welcome
Professor Getachew Begashaw, Professor, Department of Economics, Harper College, Chicago and President of Vision Ethiopia
10:00 Panel Discussion #1
Thematic Area #1: Understanding the settings of the conflict
Moderator:- Dr. Ashenafi Gossaye, Former Asst. Professor at Addis Ababa University, Fulbright Fellow & Faculty at University of Washington, Seattle
Panelists
Group A (10:00 – 12:00)
(1) Ato Achamyeleh Tamiru, Amhara Resistance/ Tegadelo/
(2) Ato Muluneh Eyoel, Patriotic Ginbot 7 Movement for Democracy
(3) Ato Zewdie Muleta, Oromo Democratic Front
Group B (12:00 – 1:30)
(2) Sister Zubeda Nuri and Ato Omer M. Shifaw, United Ethiopian Muslims Peaceful Movement Support Group.

1:30 Lunch Break
2:30 Master of Ceremonies
Special Session #1: Out Migration, Women, Youth, Refugees & Internally Displaced People
Speakers
W/T Reeyot Alemu, Journalist and Former Prisoner of Conscience
Ato Dagnachew Teshome, Global Alliance for the Rights of Ethiopians

3:30Coffee Break

3:45 Panel Discussion #2
Thematic Area #2: Conflict Management and Resolution, and Ethiopia’s Current Constitution
Moderator: Professor Getachew Begashaw, Professor of Economics, W. R. Harper College, Chicago, Illinois

(1) Ato Shimelis Kitancho, Southern Ethiopia Issues
(2) Ato Gizaw Legesse, Director of Information Technology at OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, and Host of Ethiopia Nege at ESAT
(3) Ato Melaku Geleta Wakjira: Management Consultant, Writer, and Human Rights Advocate

5:45 End of Day #1 activities
6:30 Dinner/reception (cash bar), venue to be confirmed

Sunday, October 23
9:00-10 Registration and Coffee
10:00 Welcome, Master of Ceremonies
Ato Minalachew Simachew
10:05: Prayer (religious leaders)
10:15: Panel Discussion # 3:
Thematic Area #3:- Designing a non-partisan conflict resolution instrument
for Ethiopia: Towards a New National Charter?

Moderator: Professor Abu Girma Moges, Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan.
Panelists:
(1) Professor Tedla Woldyohanes, Professor of Philosophy and Epitomology, St. Louis University, Saint Louis, Missouri
(2) Professor Getachew Metaferia, Professor of Political Science, Morgan State University
(3) Professor Berhanu Mengistu, Professor of Public Management and
Policy, Old Dominion University.
(4) Dr. Beyan Assoba, Lawyer and Political Scientist, Civil Rights Commission, Reconsideration Manager, Civil Commission, Columbus, Ohio.

12:00 Special Session #2: The Role and Contributions of the Ethiopian Diaspora during and after the Transition
W/O Fasika Woldesenbet, Human Rights Activist, Toronto, Canada
12:30Lunch Break

1:30 Master of Ceremonies
Special Session #3: The Contributions of Spirituality for National Salvation and
Reconciliation

Speakers:
Sheik Khalid Omer, Imam of First Hijrah Foundation
W/O Sewasew Johannessen, The Ark of Covenant Ministries, Norway

2:30Panel Discussion #4,
Thematic Area 4: Documenting the key elements of Transition to a post conflict order in Ethiopia
Moderator: Professor Minga Negash, MSU Denver & University of the Witwatersrand

(1) Dr. Admasu Gebeyehu, Former Chair of UEDP and Vice Chairman of CUD

(2) Dr. Dima Nogo, Political Scientist and Former Minister of Information, Transitional Government of Ethiopia (1991-1993) & Founding Chairman of OLF
(3) Major (Ret) Dawit Wolde Giorgis, Lawyer, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs & Governor General of Eritrea, Founder and Executive Director of Institute for Strategic and Security Studies

4:30 Conference communique
5:00 Conference Closure

Preparation Guide to Panelists

I. Background
Vision Ethiopia, an independent and nonpartisan network of Ethiopian academics and professionals, in collaboration with the Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) organized a successful conference which was held on March 26 and 27, 2016. The panelists and participants of the conference correctly identified that Ethiopia was in a state of conflict. The resolution of the conflict requires a new roadmap. Since the conference in March, the situation in the country has deteriorated. The protests have become more popular and spread to almost all areas of the country. The TPLF/EPRDF Government of Ethiopia has continued to use its repressive instruments and the regime has once again failed to develop a credible conflict resolution plan for the country. Instead the regime has continued to label its opponents and critics as “terrorists”, “extremists” and “chauvinists”, and granted a carte blanch to the military to kill its own citizens. It has sealed the regions from international media and rejected the United Nations Human Rights Commission’s request for an independent investigation. The deepening crisis and the regime’s aggression have created opportune moments for the rationalization violence as an instrument of “self- defense”. Hence, the escalating conflict requires a carefully thought out roadmap that reflects the challenges, realities, state and non-state actors and the prospects for Ethiopia in the context of the conflicts in the Greater Horn of Africa region.

A number of scholars and politicians have started to present various forms of peace plans and roadmaps. Vision Ethiopia welcomes these initiatives and firmly believes addressing the challenges and realizing our potentials requires active participation from and contribution by all concerned stakeholders. Hence, our third conference is entirely focused on designing a transition roadmap. The conference has four panel sessions that deal specific and inter-related thematic areas. Vision Ethiopia is happy that it has once again succeeded in assembling high profile panelists. We invite all Ethiopians to the conference. The proceedings of the conference will be televised by ESAT, in full. We in Vision Ethiopia sincerely thank ESAT for enabling us reach Ethiopians residing across the globe.

II. Thematic Areas for the Conference
Thematic Area #1: Understanding the settings or context of the conflict

Objectives

Conflict analysis and resolution is contextual. Understanding the reality enables the correct formulation of a conflict resolution plan. Panelists in this session are expected to make a comprehensive assessment of the current political and socio economic landscape of Ethiopia and share with participants the degree, depth, and nature of the cleavage and crisis engulfing the country. Panelists are expected to deal with and answer the following issues/questions.

1. Assess the current political situation of Ethiopia. Is the existing political “system” in the country prone to conflict and mistrust, leading to confrontations and fragmentation, or conducive for conflict resolution? How can the situation be changed/reformed: through a system in which political groups exercise political power only or with the consent and direct participation of the citizens? Why did the previous conflict prevention, management and resolutions mechanism fail?
2. Identify the substance of the demands and calls for reform, the scope of change that is required, separating wish lists from doable plans of actions. What is/are the opponents of the regime asking?
3. Examine and illustrate if the ruling party has the credibility, legitimacy and capability to effectively address the causes of the conflict without the use of its repressive instruments. What are the ideological, institutional and structural problems that limit the ruling regime from responding to the demand?
4. Assess the costs and risks associated with the TPLF, the core group in the EPRDF that controls key communication, diplomatic, economic, political and security organs of the country.
5. Examine the plethora opposition parties/groups (be they “legal” or “illegal;/clandestine, armed or otherwise), their differences and similarities between them, their strengths/weaknesses. Which one of them could be considered as key power players?

Moderator: Dr. Ashenafi Gossaye, Former Asst. Professor at Addis Ababa University, Fulbright Fellow & Faculty at University of Washington, Seattle

Panelists:

(1) Ato Achamyeleh Tamiru, Amhara Resistance/ Tegadelo/

(2) Ato Muluneh Eyoel, Patriotic Ginbot 7, Movement for Democracy and Justice

(3) Ato Zewdie Muleta, Oromo Democratic Front

(4) Ato Shimelis Kitancho, Southern Ethiopia Issues

(5) Sister Zubeda Nuri and Ato Omer M. Shifaw, United Ethiopian Muslims Peaceful Movement Support Group.

Thematic Area #2:- Conflict prevention, management and resolution, and Ethiopia’s Current Constitution

Some commentators argue that Ethiopia’s current constitution can serve as a basis for conflict resolution. Others argue that the current constitution is a non-starter. In 1991 the victors of the then conflict, the TPLF and the OLF, authored a Transitional Charter with the help of the EPLF. Ethiopia adopted the current Constitution in 1995 and it has remained in force up to now. Both instruments did not resolve the then conflict and, in fact the contracting parties are in conflict. New conflict started with the failure of the 2005 election. Twenty five years after the capture of the coercive powers of the Ethiopian State, the regime has ignored all calls and demands for amendment of the Constitution. The central question in this theme thus is the examination of whether the current constitution can still serve as a conflict resolution instrument. Panelists are expected to provide review of the experiences of successes and failures of countries which were in conflict (example Chile, Korea, Sudan, Kenya, South Africa, Liberia, Zimbabwe, etc.) and identify when and where and under what set of circumstances an existing constitution has been used as a basis for conflict resolution.

Objective 1: To examine the viability of amending or drafting a new post conflict instrument which unites the Ethiopian people, recognizes and redresses the victims of historical conflicts and injustices and lends legitimacy to future political leaderships, structure of government and establish institutions that are representative, responsive and accountable to all the people, regardless of their religious, ethnic, gender, age and political differences. Whether and how the “separation of powers” principle can be infused within the framework of the current constitution is the cornerstone of the discussion.

Objective 2: The examination of alternative structures of the county’s administrative regions and the form and degree of political, linguistic and fiscal decentralization.

Objective 3: Determine the method of elections and how the National Independent Electoral Board can be released from its captured status and freed from the influence of a ruling party.

Panelists are expected to address the following pertinent issues:

(1) What are the principles and practice of conflict resolution and successful path(s) to a democratic and peaceful governance system? What are the lessons learned from other conflict cases?
(2) What are the usual sticky points in conflict resolution? How were the sticky points and cleavages resolved in other countries?
(3) What are the key provisions available in the current constitution that can be invoked to jump start a conflict management and resolution process?
(4) What was/were the reason(s) for the failure of previous conflict prevention efforts? Why didn’t it gain public trust? How does one prevent such events from re-occurring again?
(5) What are the key chapters, sections and essential features of the current constitution that would enshrine the necessary basis for human rights, freedom, rule of law, unity in diversity, decentralization and dispensation of justice, power sharing and redressing of legacy of minority rule?
Moderator: Professor Getachew Begashaw, Professor of Economics, W. R. Harper College, Chicago, Illinois
Panelists
(1) Ato Shimelis Kitancho, Southern Ethiopia Issues
(2) Ato Gizaw Legesse, Director of Information Technology at OSHA, U.S. Department of Labor, and Host of Ethiopia Nege at ESAT
(3) Ato Melaku Geleta Wakjira: Management Consultant, Writer, and Human Rights Advocate

Thematic Area #3: Designing the appropriate conflict resolution instrument for Ethiopia:- Towards a New Charter?

Panelists in thematic area #2 have presented a review of the international empirical evidence in the context of the current constitution. Many analysts also document that transition to a post conflict political order can come in various ways, including but not limited to through public uprising, armed conflict, slow motion loss of control by security forces, security forces changing side, military coups, and an orderly, negotiated and managed transition where incumbent regimes are a party to the conflict resolution process in the transition. The scenario for managed transition can however occur if and only if an incumbent party recognizes the crisis and seriously engages with its opponents. Incumbent parties that attempt to capture or game the process often make fatal mistakes. To the extent that this option is followed, a new charter or even a brand new constitution can be developed as an instrument for a new political process.

If however the regime loses control and credibility, and eventually collapses or fails to cease the opportunity and negotiate the exit on time or a coup occurs, not only the current constitution becomes irrelevant and politically untenable, but designing a new charter becomes more complex. The central issue in this session is deliberating on how the current crisis should be replaced by either a reformed or new system of political institutions, including the drafting and adoption of a new TRANSIONAL CHARTER AND A NEW CONSTITUTION. Panelists in this session are expected to outline the key elements and modalities for a post conflict transition period, show how the process can be inclusive, consultative, peaceful, and uphold a new era of political pluralism in Ethiopia. These shared values and understanding are critical for the process to gain acceptance by all contending parties and broader civil society.

Issue 1: Identification of a ‘peace faction” within TPLF/EPRDF and design of a New Charter

The following issues may be addressed by panelists. Can the Prime Minster of Ethiopia be a credible and trusted leader that command respect for leading a care taker administration that prepares the country for a post conflict political order? Is there any visible “peace faction” within the TPLF/EPRDF and the defense and security establishment? If so what can be done to strengthen the position of the “peace faction” in the search for a new peace plan and the design of an instrument that manages and resolves the conflict?

Issue 2: Identification of key peace brokers in the opposition camp

The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) indicates that there were 58 political parties that contested the May 2015 election in which the TPLF and its satellite parties won 100% of the seats in the House of Peoples Representatives. Many, including the ruling party are coalitions of ethnic movements. Many are tiny and not visible political parties. An estimated 40 parties are in some kind of armed and/or clandestine and exile activities. Form this group a significant proportion are tiny and confined to releasing occasional press statements. Three (Oromo Liberation Front, Patriotic Ginbot 7 and Ogaden National Liberation Front) of the 40 parties which threaten the TPLF/EPRDF were declared by the House of Peoples Representatives “terrorists”. There are other peace brokers yet to be named terrorist and this includes the TPDM/Demhit and Afar Movements. A number of armed groups are believed to be getting the sympathy of Eritrea. The spread of small arms in the region and the crisis in the Greater Horn of Africa region and the exigencies of repulsing TPLF/EPRDF’s aggression on targeted population groups creates opportune moments for armed groups and the creation of local peasant militia. Hence an important question arises as to what criteria and process should be set for political parties to be involved in the transition process. Can the conflict be resolved without engaging armed, clandestine and exiled political parties?

Objective 1: Conflict resolution through the promise of majority rule and ensuring the rights and protection of minorities.

Objective 2: Designing the appropriate instrument for transition, including the establishment of a Transitional/Care Taker Administration that is representative of contending political forces and civil society leaders through a process that is credible and inclusive so that there is an opportunity to resolve the conflict and protests;

Objective 3: Critically examine the challenges and constraints in undertaking a smooth transitional arrangement in the context of the political and security environment of the Horn of Africa.

Objective 4: Answer the thorny issue of creating a workable coalition and managing political posturing, personalities and spoilers among the opponents of the regime so that the transition process finds a mechanism for handling political behavior and assessing organizational strength.

Objective 5: Finding the criteria for political parties to involve themselves in the transitional arrangement. Which political parties have a critical mass to sponsor a New Charter? Having a program is one thing but more importantly membership, finance, votes earned in the last three elections, continuous engagement with Ethiopian affairs, strength of affiliated media, number of combatants in the field, commitment to maintain the unity of the country, relations with the international relation and neighboring countries, etc.) may be used to assess the key peace brokers.

Objective 6: Identification and mechanism for including new actors in the political landscape. There are several indications that the current protests and resistance have generated new local leadership making conventional parties less relevant. This new reality requires not only inclusion but an active participation in the conflict resolution process.

Moderator: Professor Abu Girma Moges, Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan

Panelists:

(1) Professor Tedla Woldyohanes, Professor of Philosophy, Southern Illinois University.
(2) Professor Getachew Metaferia, Professor of Political Science, Morgan State University
(3) Professor Berhanu Mengistu, Expert conflict studies, Old Dominion University
(4) Dr. Beyan Assoba, Lawyer and Political Scientist, Civil Rights Investigator, Civil Commission, Columbus, Ohio.

Thematic Area #4: Documenting the key elements of the proposed roadmap

Irrespective of whether the TPLF/EPRDF is forthcoming to engage with its opponents, or not there is need for a mutually agreed peace formula that gains acceptance by the conflicting parties and the general public. Taking cue from the conclusions of the previous panel discussion speakers are expected to evaluate the merits of the various roadmaps proposed by scholars and politicians and civic movements, including the ones by L/T General Tsadkan Gebre Tensaie and Professor Mesfin Wolde Mariam. Hence, a succinctly written New Charter that contains a feasible plan of action becomes the antecedent to the birth of a new constitutional order in the country. It is thus imperative for political parties to have a blue-print roadmap/plan of action/ a non-partisan technical drawing which responds to the crisis. International experience indicates that such plans can be drafted by an incumbent political party, an opposition group, churches and academic/research institutions, think tank groups and other civil society organizations and foreign government funded peace institutes. Ethiopian academics and professionals in the country and in the Diaspora can help in drafting and developing a nonpartisan NEW CHARTER.

Objective 1 Obtaining a preliminary draft document that can be circulated among political parties, civic societies in the country and in the Diaspora, on both sides of the fence.

Objective 2 Identifying countries that do not have direct stake in Ethiopian politics and hence can be a neutral ground for negotiation and facilitation.

Moderator: Professor Minga Negash, MSU Denver & University of the Witwatersrand

Panelists:

(1) Professor Tedla Woldyohanes, Professor of Philosophy and Epitomology, St. Louis University, Saint Louis, Missouri
(2) Dr. Admasu Gebeyehu, Former Chair of UEDP and Vice Chairman of CUD

(3) Dr. Dima Nogo, Political Scientist and Former Minister of Information, Transitional Government of Ethiopia (1991-1993) & Founding Chairman of OLF
(4) Major (Ret) Dawit Wolde Giorgis, Lawyer, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs & Governor General of Eritrea, Founder and Executive Director of Institute for Strategic and Security Studies

Guide to Invited Speakers

Speakers who are NOT assigned to the four thematic areas are not expected to answer the questions. Nonetheless they are expected to fine tune the content of their speech with the general theme of the conference. Additional presentation guide and conference decorum will be issued shortly.

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