Competing Political Parties Underline Significance of Compromise, Merger

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Addis Ababa June 21/2019 Competing political parties say merger and amalgamation of political organizations based on common ideology is an asset and claim that some have taken bold action to work together as ethnic and citizen-based political parties.

Former Kotebe Metropolitan University Civics Instructor and Political Scientist, Giday Degefu told ENA that the past 30 years in Ethiopia were dominated by ethnic-based political organizations and citizen-based parties were not successful as they have been sidelined and harassed.

In addition, he stated that “more than 60 of the existing political parties are ethnic based organizations.”

All political parties “must not see one another in terms of antagonism, rather in terms of possible merging — making synergy and trying to find out commonality. Their minds must be shaped in such a way that there can be a platform on which they can work together and merge through the process into national political parties based on citizenship. That should be the strategic mind set of the different political organizations and political parties,” Giday recommended.

According to him, parties can work together on common historical issues, economic development, and social services.”

A merger is vital as “we are going into election and people should not be confused by too many candidates standing in their ethnic group.

The prime minister’s call for a merger is timely but it does not seem to be well received. Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice has taken a bold action to bring together 7 political organizations with different ideologies, he noted.

Giday said EPRDF, with some sort of ideology and program, is a forerunner in amalgamating different ethnic based groups or nations, nationalities and peoples; but it is not a party.

Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice Deputy Chairperson, Chane Kebede said his party, formed from 7 parties that phased out is discussing about including parties with similar ideologies in order to gain strength and harbor formidable competition for election.

The party pursues citizenship and social justice politics and a hybrid ideology of social and liberal democracy.

Noting that his party has got combined grassroots support, Chane said “all the parties have dissolved in the lower structure at woreda levels and elected their executives before the founding general assembly of the merger.”

He advised other opposition parties to restructure or newly establish, merge or create coalition based on related ideology.

Ethiopia has got plenty of political parties beyond its socio-political and economic needs, Political Parties Joint Council Deputy Chairperson Girma Bekele pointed out.

“Political organizations should minimize their number through merger, coalition or any other means. Thus our council is encouraging political parties to compromise and come together,” Girma noted.

The number of parties in Ethiopia, which has reached over 100, is not a good strategy for competition and it is also difficult for the electoral body to manage them, he added.

Gada System Party Chairman, Roberie Tadesse stated that his party has created coalition with other eight parties from the opposition.

“The coalition amalgamating 9 political organizations encompasses citizen and ethnic based political organizations and parties. Its good and we joined them.We have about 14 political parties in Oromia Regional State alone and we are ready to work together to minimize into two based on consensus,” he added.

“Two competing parties are enough to deliver alternative ideologies for Ethiopians like in the US and UK, he pointed out. We are peacefully struggling for that.”

The coalition has encompassed parties that run ethnic and citizenship politics together, he mentioned. “We chose a coalition to work on common consensus or depart at times of disagreements.”