Building a Democratic System in Ethiopia

March 26/2015 Building a Democratic System in Ethiopia Photo-election-registrationThe people of Ethiopia are building a democratic system after the overthrow of the oppressive and anti-democratic regimes through painstaking struggle. The quest for democracy encompasses various issues surrounding the basic rights of citizens. It is a matter of recognizing both the group and individual rights of citizens without limits. Citizens have rights that should be respected only for the mere fact that they are human beings. Nonetheless, the past regimes of Ethiopia had turned the country into prison by subjugating their basic civil rights. This had forced citizens to resort to armed struggle to secure the respect of their rights. The anti-democratic reigns of the past were precipitated by the failures of past rulers to recognize the group and individual rights of the people, to accommodate their ethnic and religious diversity as well as by their attempts to subdue people’s requests by force and persecution. As a result, the demand for the fulfilment democratizing process has been the number one agenda of the public for years. That is why It was taken as the only choice and a first step for launching of a new political system that replaces a tyrant regime,like Dergue. Accordingly, the guarantee of basic democratic rights have been given due importance ever since the implementation of the transitional period charter. Subsequently the FDRE constitution has been ratified to guarantee all the human and democratic rights of the people maintaining their synergy and integrity. The constitution was ratified after close to 16 million people deliberated on its provisions and finally gave their consent through their constituents. The attachment of a constitutional democratic system gave response to two major rights that are particularly appealing to our people’s objective reality. These rights are ensuring the equality of rights of nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia as well as building a democratic system through the direct participation of the people. It is clearly understandable that our course of building a democratic system bases itself on adapting internationally acknowledged principles of democracy based on our needs. This makes our democracy a peculiar one that flourished on capitalizing our objective needs on internationally acknowledged democratic principles. This feature makes it clear that our democracy is not a system that is forcibly imposed on us by external forces against our wishes or copied from others for the sake of formality. It is rather a system that originated from several years old of struggle by our people. The constitution has also incorporated all basic provisions of the United Nations Charter regarding citizen’s rights and given legal guarantee. Unlike other democracies that have narrowed rights of citizens in relation to gender or property entitlement, ours is one that sprouted as a fully fledged system from its inception. The constitution stipulated that political power can be assumed only through popular vote. It has also allowed the establishment of political parties and competing for political power. This makes the Ethiopia a nation where people’s ownership of power is ensured and a democratic state where multiparty system is realized. Article 8 of the F.D.R.E. constitution has also clearly stipulated that political power is a manifestation of people’s sovereignty which is expressed through their own direct participation or that of their constituents. This would be possible through realizing a democratic system where people’s human and democratic rights are guaranteed. The rights of people to elect and be elected are enshrined in article 38 of F.D.R.E. constitution. This provision further elaborates that every Ethiopian citizen has a right to elect and be elected without any discrimination in terms of colour, race, nation, nationality, sex, religion, political or any other affiliation while presupposing that elections held at any government level should be universal, based on equality opportunity and assuring privacy of voters. Ever since the ratification of the 1995 F.D.R.E. constitution which bestowed supreme power for the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia , four national general elections have been held in the country. The past four terms of election in have ensured the democratic participation of the public. To ensure the continuity of this culture preparations have been finalized to successfully conduct the upcoming election. The next 5th round of general election is expected to ascend our journey of building constitutional democratic system into a new height.In all past elections the number of people who actually casted their votes out of the registered ones has been more than 90 percent. This indicates that people view election as a means of exercising their democratic rights. Since our democracy is based on strong foundation the upcoming general election is also expected to take place on peaceful, democratic and legal with the utmost trust of the public. The democratization process in Ethiopia is a work in progress, which has reached an irreversible position and no one can deny that it is taking root gradually, but firmly. One has to remember where Ethiopia was two decades back and what has been achieved in terms of democratic transformation. The Country declared from the outset that democracy and the fight against poverty are the ultimate goals of its political and economic strategy. The nation considers success in these huge undertakings will determine its viability and survival. It is hoped that the international community will strengthen its partnership with Ethiopia in its endeavour to realize its lofty objective of fully-fledged democracy and sustainable development. Ethiopian Consulate General Office  Frankfurt

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