On 6 October 2022, CECOE organized a national Dialogue Session on Citizenship and Ethnic/National Identity in Ethiopia. The main objective of the session was aimed at creating a platform for discussion among different actors where genuine dialogue between competing views on Ethiopian citizenship and ethnic identity can take place. The dialogue was opened by CECOE’s Executive director, Abera Hailemariam, who welcomed everyone and went on to describe the coalition’s aim to promote democratic culture.
The two presenters and discussants at the session were Eyasped Tesfaye, Founder of Ubuntu Media and Communications, and Mulugeta Aregawi, Attorney and Lecturer of Law at Addis Ababa University. The first presenter’s presentations were mainly focused on Ethnic/National Identity. “Nationalism is primarily a political principle, which holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent. Nationalist sentiment is the feeling of anger aroused by the violation of the principle, or the feeling of satisfaction aroused by its fulfillment. A nationalist movement is one actuated by a sentiment of this kind,” according to Eyasped.
The second presenter’s, Mulugeta, presentation was mainly focused on citizenship identity, highlighting that ethnic based political systems have negatively contributed to flaring up conflicts both locally and internationally. He also explained that both citizenship based identity and its advocates have been under a continuous attack in Ethiopia for the past three decades.
Participants of the session drawn from various CSOs, partners and government agencies also reflected on the presentations and forwarded recommendations to thaw the current political tensions in Ethiopia.
In a bid to promote such political dialogues and promote democratic culture, CECoE has planned to organize a series of similar sessions on various contested topics.