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On 11 July 2018 the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), in collaboration with the Peoples’ Alliance for Freedom and Democracy (PAFD) will organise a conference entitled “2018 Ethiopia — Ways Toward Politically-Inclusive Democracy”. This conference will be co-hosted by MEP Julie Ward and MEP Ana Gomes from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, as well as MEP Jordi Solé from the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.
From 2015, following an eruption of suppressed anger at the government’s repressive form of governance with political, civic and media opposition figures being detained and freedom of expression being criminalised, Ethiopia has experienced great popular uplifting. Country-wide waves of protests, many of which were concentrated in the areas inhabited by the Oromo community, have been met with incredible violence by security forces and paramilitary groups with tens of thousands of protesters arrested and over 1,000 civilians killed in the last two years. Currently detained opposition figures face torture and the lack of judicial procedure.
Most recently and as a result of this uprising, Ethiopia found itself in a second state of emergency, imposed on 17 February 2018, following Prime Minister Desalegn’s resignation and his replacement with Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)-affiliated Dr Abiy Mohammed. This latest state of emergency, which was the second imposed in two years, was lifted on 5 June 2018. However, according to opposition parties in Ethiopia and abroad, this decision and the few cases of prisoner releases are simple cosmetic changes, used to garner international support. In reality these recent changes do not challenge the structural oppression of the state. The states of emergency have rather functioned as tools legalising the already-existing repression by the State and its apparatus.
The instability Ethiopia currently faces is due partly to the unrepresentative and puppet democracy the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) and the EPRDF coalition maintain. The regime has gained total control of government bodies following rigged elections in 2005, 2010 and 2015. A new organised and all-inclusive political opposition platform is necessary to bring a democratic response to today’s regime. It is in this contact that the PAFD was founded in October 2015.
The PAFD’s political alliance currently represents over 60% of oppressed peoples of Ethiopia including the people of Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella, Ogaden, Oromia and Sidama. In the course of the summer of 2018 and as a follow-up to its conference held in London, United Kingdom on 24 and 25 February 2018, the PAFD, in collaboration with the UNPO, will be holding an all-inclusive dialogue in the framework of a conference to discuss Ethiopia’s democratic prospects, featuring fellow opposition parties and held in the European Parliament. The PAFD seeks to rally and unite all opposition political organisations, in order to start a dialogue and discuss possible political solutions to bring peace and stability by averting the political, humanitarian and human rights crisis in the country. This conference will allow academics, journalists and politicians to discuss Ethiopia’s opposition’s commitment to work together to restore peace, democracy and the rule of law in Ethiopia. The international community and European institutions’ role in this exchange will be to complement and support this democratic effort to find solutions through cooperation, dialogue and peaceful initiatives.