By Simegnish Yekoye
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Foreign diplomats have started to broker negotiations between the ruling party, Ethiopian People Revolutionary Front (EPRDF) and a forum of opposition parties, Mederek on issues concerning the upcoming Ethiopian election to be held next year.
Diplomats from the British and US embassies have started consultations with both parties so that they can come to a round table discussion and settle their differences.
Merara Gudina, member of one of the eight parties that formed the forum says the diplomats have talked to them and asked them to have discussions with EPRDF, which he says is also the request of the forum.
The forum which boycotted parties discussions with the ruling party and other opposition parties over a disagreement on agendas of negotiation sent a letter to EPRDF asking for the need of bilateral negotiations with the ruling party on issues concerning media usage, election observers, rules and regulations and other issues. However, the ruling party agreed to discuss only on the code of conduct for the election.
The ruling party gave a response in letter saying the forum can take part in the progressing discussions with the other opposition parties but will not hold any separate negotiation with the forum.
Representatives of the eight parties in the forum are to hold a meeting on how to respond to the letter and what their next step would be.
“EPRDF has given us a letter that doesn’t clearly say whether they don’t want the discussion or need to sit with us and talk on issues. So members of the forum need to come together and decide what to do next,” says Merara.
Dr. Hailu Araya, Public Relation Officer of Andenet party which is also member party of the forum, says leaders of the forum are already in a meeting and will reach on a decision in the coming few days.
With only a few months away to the upcoming election, eight parties that formed the coalition with two other individuals haven’t decided yet whether they are to take part in the election or not.
The forum has come up with their own manifesto, however, that would help them get ready for the election. However, the National Board of Election (NBE) hasn’t given them approval yet. Their manifesto mainly states they will find any means where Ethiopia will be able to use the Port of Assab – located in Eritrea and the country will have two national languages, Amharic and Oromifa.