Inclusive Dialogue, National Reform & Reconciliation in Ethiopia: A Meta-Modeling Approach


Ethiopia has suffered a structural as well as human identity crises for over a century. The Ethiopian political structure has been in a dilemma of being an empire, nation state, multinational state and even a complex chiefdom.

Similarly, Ethiopian identity (Ethiopiawinet) has suffered from a crisis of being a citizenship or a nationality, as the result of which the question of nationalities has remained unanswered question in the country.

Many Ethiopians have sacrificed their life to resolve these dilemmas while not few choose to remain in denial. Finally, it seems that Ethiopia is ready to accept “what it is” and to communicate that to the world through a plain language. National dialogue, consensus & reconciliation are key to open Ethiopia to itself and to the world equally.

Inclusive national dialogue

Inclusive dialogue, in politics, is a genuine representation and contribution of diverse stakeholder to ensure that a wide cross-section of views and perspectives are represented, opportunities are harnessed, and challenges are dealt with in a sustainable way.

Inclusivity entails that the negotiation process and its outcome will be owned, not only by the signatories, but also by the people represented. But this does not mean inclusivity is always the right thing in political dialogue.

Inclusivity, can also ironically be divisive. It may mobilize groups into cohesive forces, and by stimulating specific positions, it may generate more entrenched ‘us’ and ‘them’ identities.

Inclusivity, does not necessarily imply that all stakeholders have to participate directly in a formal political dialogue either. It is a subjective concept and it can be interpreted in relation to the quantity of representation. But it can also be interpreted through the lens of capacity, influence, diversity and voice – that is, the quality of representation.

To have a successful national dialogue and consensus in Ethiopian, it is critical to have context sensitive dialogue roadmap that can ensure a chorus of different voices to become a united front that advocates for a common agenda of peace, unity and prosperity in the country.

One of the prerequisites for this context sensitive dialogue roadmap is ensuring participation of the major political and social stakeholders. They must submit their contribution on the format and the content of the national dialogue itself.

After a thorough discussion on the ideas presented by each political and social actor, that will be used as an input to develop an inclusive roadmap and model and its implementation strategy. This step can also be used to define what is “inclusivity”.

National reform in Ethiopia

Reform is a must step in Ethiopia. It symbolizes the journey towards taking necessary measures to address the long-standing issues of poor governance with the goal of fostering democratic transition. Thus, it is not a luxury choice rather the situation in the country is the prompter for fundamental reforms.

A roadmap for this process should epitomizes renewed optimism and confidence in the people of Ethiopia, as they embark on restructuring their governance system and the country. A key plank in this process is the need to restore integrity and faith in different government branches. Especially in the country where lack of good governance and partiality of the judiciary system is the source of the problem, restoring integrity and faith in government is very critical.

In this process, safeguarding the independence of the judiciary, the military, the intelligence, the media and the electoral system is bedrock for democratic transition in Ethiopia. More than anything, it is very important to bolster judicial and institutional reforms in the country. There are already major steps taken in this regard but more needs to be done to boost the confidence of the Ethiopian people in the judiciary system.

Supporting the process with evidence and experiences from other countries and by developing context specific models, it is possible to make the reform both acceptable and sustainable.


“One of the hardest things for a nation to do is to come to grips with the evils it has done. But people who fight fire with fire usually ends up with ashes” ~ Dear Abby

Although Ethiopia experienced no major conflict, dispute and disagreement between its diverse people, the grievance is very high between the Ethiopian people and the rulers, where the people are the victim and the rulers are the perpetrators. Conflict often threatens different psychology of victims and perpetrators, which in turn push them to maintain conflict.

Conflict threatens the status and power of victims’ while it threatens the moral and social images of a perpetrator. An effective reconciliatory model, therefore is one that understands and satisfies the differential emotional needs of victim and perpetrator i.e. restoring victim`s sense of power and perpetrator`s sense of public moral image.

To satisfy these needs, Ethiopia needs a new reconciliatory model that can enhance the interaction between victims and perpetrators by removing their threats. A restorative justice system assembled in South African in 1990s for instance, provide a very good example. But Ethiopia has its unique structure and context that needs critical attention in the reconciliatory process.

Context specific facilitative communication skills and behavioral games that accommodate the existing group dynamics, for instance can be used to smoothen interaction between different groups and remove their actual or perceived threats, which ultimately enhance their willingness to reconcile. Behavioral scientists and modelers can help in designing a new reconciliatory model that addresses the historical threats in Ethiopia and speed up a national reconciliation.

Meta-Modeling 4 Moving Forward

An analysis, construction and development of frames, and models can be used as an important entry point for mapping urgent areas for dialogue, reform and reconciliation in Ethiopia.

The success of interventions for national dialogue, consensus building, and reconciliation depends on the design and management of the process and how issues are addressed in each specific context. Thus, meta-modeling is a useful tool to map and understand complex problems and suggest solutions.

Successful reform is the result of a well-designed bargaining model. A reformists group in Ethiopia, for instance bargain with the guardians of the status quo. In this process, supporting the reformist group is increasing their bargaining power and thus ultimately ensuring the success of their reform agenda.

In general, having roadmaps and models, an abstraction of phenomena in the real world, that involves studying the relationship between an input and output and fitting it to an existing context is an important step in moving forward with the national dialogue, reform and reconciliation process in Ethiopia.


Read 1115 times Last modified on Tuesday, 07 August 2018 06:34

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