The Ottawa Ethiopian alliance building conference – report

By Elias Kifle

Several Ethiopian political and civic groups held a 3-day conference in Ottawa, Canada, from May 19 – 21, 2012, and forged an alliance named “Congress of Ethiopian People’s United Struggle.”

The alliance was formed after a thorough discussion on problems that have plagued past efforts in forming a viable united front. One of the ideas that have been presented as solution at the Ottawa conference was to involve civic groups and independent individuals in the new alliance.

The conference highlighted the deteriorating economic, social and political conditions in Ethiopia and concluded that an intensified, united, all-inclusive struggle must be waged to save the country from further chaos and calamity.

After reaching an agreement on the objectives and organizational structure of the alliance, a central council — composed of 2 representatives from each civic and political group, plus 5 individuals — has been formed by the conference.

The central council on the same day met and elected its top 4 officers: Dr Ermias Alemu, chairman; Dr Achamyeleh Debela, Vice Chairman, Ato Gidey Zeratsion, Secretary; and Ato Asridew Kebede, Treasurer. The council is expected to form its executive committee in the coming few days.

The conference left 2 seats in the central council for each of those civic groups and political parties that have not yet made a decision to participate. The door is left open for them any time they decide to join.

In a renewed spirit of cooperation and unity, the conference instructed the new leadership to support the formation of the Ethiopian National Transitional Council by sending delegates to the founding convention that is scheduled to take place from June 30 – July 3 in Dallas, Texas.

Like all the other united fronts and coalitions in the past, this new alliance also has a short time to prove itself as a viable opposition coalition. The primary measurement of its viability is the type of actions that it will take in the coming few weeks against the ruling Woyanne junta in Ethiopia, because what the people of Ethiopia are looking for is actions that can help eliminate the Woyanne rule.

All of us who have participated in the conference are indebted to the Ethiopian community in Ottawa that hosted the conference. They worked tirelessly to provide all the logistical support that is needed to conduct a successful conference. Their hospitality is amazing. They represent the Ethiopia that we all fight to save and preserve.

The Ottawa conference was opened by blessings from Christian and Muslim leaders. A representative of the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in exile, LiqeKahnat Misale Engida, urged the participants to set aside minor differences and forge a strong unity. He warned: “if you fail to make this conference successful, you will cause more hopelessness and disillusionment among the people.” LiqeKahnat’s warning was in the mind of every one as the participants debated a number of contentious issues.

The legendary Ethiopian fitness expert Girma Cheru was among the prominent individuals who attended the conference and added their voice to the urgency of carrying out a united struggle to save Ethiopia.