Ethiopia’s new prime minister Abiy Ahmed is reaching out to opposition parties, calling on them to prepare for peaceful dialogue and negotiations to broaden the political space. Abiy Ahmed spoke Thursday evening as he hosted opposition figures, civic group members and religious leaders in Addis Ababa. Among the guests were some opposition figures recently released from detention, including Bekele Gerba and Merara Gudina.
The Premier affirmed his party’s readiness to negotiate with political parties that prefer peaceful struggle. He noted that efforts towards democratic system building could not be fruitful without strong opposition parties. Mr Abiy Ahmed made the remark during a dinner program he held at the National Palace for religious and community leaders, as well as leaders of opposition parties and people drawn from civic societies.
In his speech, the Premier acknowledged the contribution that religious leaders, civic societies and opposition parties played in the country to date. Noting that efforts towards building a prosperous Ethiopia need everyone’s participation, he urged citizens to discharge their responsibilities in this regard: “I urge you to serve as alternative idea generators for our country”.
The Premier said political parties should come out of feelings of resentment and work with a new spirit. The ruling party EPRDF is ready to negotiate with any political party that wants to hold talks peacefully.
EPRDF will do all it can to make the upcoming election free, fair and democratic, he said, urging oppositions to do their part for its success. The political space should be broadened, as parliamentary democracy could not be successful without political parties, Prime Minister Abiy added. He added that opposition political parties should come up with comprehensive policies and become competent, further highlighting that zero-sum game politics is detrimental to the country.
Since taking office, PM Abiy has been meeting with the public in different parts of the country as part of efforts towards reconciliation.
The Premier last week visited Somali Regional State and discussed with the public along with officials of the region and Oromia Regional State.
On Wednesday, he visited the town of Ambo that has been known for its restiveness over the past few years and during previous regimes.
Yesterday’s discussion with the opposition, religious leaders and civic societies is part of the Premier’s plan in promoting dialogue.