Aspirations, Opportunities, Choices

Ethiopia’s political and economic reforms have brought about unprecedented democratic opening hailed across the country and beyond. The initial results of the reforms have already begun to show mainly the reduction in unrests which threaten to paralyze normal life and produced much insecurity and fear. More significantly, the most ardent critics of government for stifling the freedom of expression, banning peaceful protests and return of peaceful and nonpeaceful opposition from exile, have generated much debate and optimism. These and other reforms have created a sense of normality laced with unabashed contemplations of a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future.
However, the debate on the current political reforms in Ethiopia has focused, and rightly so, on a broad spectrum of issues pertaining to reforming the state institutions and the legal, administrative and policy frameworks which contributed to the past three years of political anomaly. This Report argues that these political reforms will not realize their expected objectives without engaging and ensuring a broad civic engagement for an expanded democratic space. Therefore, without creating a public space for civic engagement in the political reforms process, the reforms will not be politically, socially or culturally embedded, peoples-centered and owned or potentially fall-short of meeting the national aspirations for sustainable peace and development.

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