Parliamentarians have raised serious concerns about the very purpose of the Ministry of Peace, blasting its officials for the proliferation of violent conflict in the country since the Ministry was established in late 2018.
MPs have also questioned whether the federal expenditures on the Ministry’s budget are worthwhile.
The criticisms came during the Ministry’s presentation of its first quarter performance before Parliament on Friday, December 1, 2023.
Although parliamentary performance reports are customarily open to the public, members of the media were expelled from the House of People’s Representatives before the Ministry of Peace (MoP) officials conducted their hearing behind closed doors.
Despite this, The Reporter has obtained documents that reveal MPs directed several tough questions at Ministry officials, which were met by less-than-satisfactory answers in the eyes of parliamentarians.
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MPs reportedly reproached State Minister of Peace Taye Dendea for a complaint about the “low” budget allocated to the Ministry this year.
“Do you believe the Ministry’s performance in achieving peace is worth the budget allocated to it?” asked one MP. “Conflict has grown since the Ministry of Peace was formed.”
The State Minister was also asked to present detailed information as to why violent conflict remains a scourge across the country.
“There is a distorted perspective, both from the government and the public, regarding power,” said Taye. “There is a lack of political culture, and negotiation. There are several distorted narratives. Social media has also contributed to fanning differences and extremism. Corrupt and illegal networks who benefit from conflict are also working against peace.”
MPs also raised concerns that the country is heading into its second civil war in three years. The State Minister denied the allegations.
“There is no civil war nor inter-regional conflict currently ongoing in Ethiopia. Almost all the ongoing conflicts are intra-regional. Only the recent conflict between Somali and Oromia at Babile is inter-regional. The conflict between Somali and Afar regional states is also not new. The heaviest conflict ongoing in the country now is the conflict in Oromia. That also is not inter-regional. It is limited to Oromia. The same is true for the conflict in Amhara,” said Taye.
The State Minister hinted the federal government could negotiate with armed forces in Amhara, as it has been attempting to do with groups in Oromia.
“The government is going the extra mile to meet the armed forces halfway in order to solve the conflict in Oromia,” he said. “We believe the conflict in Amhara will be addressed in the same frame.”
However, the State Minister did not provide any further details about potential negotiations with armed groups in Amhara, where conflict has been raging since August.
The second round of negotiations between the federal government and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLF-Shane) finished without an agreement a few weeks ago in Tanzania.
MPs also demanded an update on the progress of the Pretoria agreement implementation. MoP officials lauded the agreement as the “biggest achievement in stopping the huge loss in lives and property.”
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