ETHIOPIAN SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY (ESDP)
Ethiopia is a country with a long history. She is recognized as one of the countries in the world where ancient governments were established a long time ago. More than this, she is known as being the origin of humankind according to several recent findings in paleontology.
Compared to her long history, the fact that Ethiopia is currently backward in her general political, economic and social development is not something one could take pride in. The main factor that forced Ethiopia to remain so far in the ranks of the few most backward countries in the world is the backwardness of her political system. It is to be recalled that both under the monarchy and the dictatorial Derg, depriving citizens of their right to freely organize themselves according to their specific political beliefs was pursued as a strategic goal. It is clear that the present political situation too is making things worse than they used to be in the past instead of showing any sign of improvement.
The political and economic conditions under the backward monarchical system were so bad that a critical point was reached in 1974 that led to the revolution whose objective was the radical transformation of the system. Although the revolution led to the destruction of the feudal landholding system, which was long imposed on more than 90 per cent of the Ethiopia people, it could not however lead to the democratization of the political system.
The Derg regime that followed not only deprived the people of their democratic rights but also brought about untold misery and oppression on them. The TPLF/EPRDF government that has replaced the dictatorial Derg used “democracy” to entice donor countries so that they could provide it assistance while it has continued to undermine the basic tenets of democracy such as the people’s sovereignty, the rule of law, good governance, social harmony, the participatory and free political, economic and social competition and the respect for human rights. These and other democratic assets are being wantonly repressed and as a result of which our citizens are being forced to pay unnecessary sacrifices.
The Council of Alternative Forces for Peace and Democracy in Ethiopia (CAFPDE) was established ten years ago with the objective of preventing the political system of our country from further deterioration and with a view to bringing about general improvement and to realize the indispensable objectives of sustainable peace, economic development and democracy. The CAFPDE has been playing a crucial role in coordinating the peoples’ struggle for the establishment of a democratic system in the last ten years.
The CAFPDE has assessed the political experiences of the last ten years as well as the current state of the struggle and it was decided that the party should be organized on the basis of individual membership instead of the existing incorporation by different political organizations and should make a transition towards a uniform party organization. Hence, as a replacement to CAFPDE, a multinational political party, the Ethiopian Social Democratic party (ESDP), is established in order to lead the struggle of our peoples nationally to serve the whole Ethiopian population faithfully and protect their interests. The ideological basis of the ESDP is the freedom of the peoples and citizens, the creation of solidarity between political systems and the peoples and the prevalence of social justice in society.
In part I of the ESDP program, it is emphasized that the political structure of Ethiopia will be a federal one that will function in such a way as it would realize the aspirations of the various nations, nationalities and the peoples that would prevent any design for “divide and rule”, overcome hatred, curb civil conflicts and will be based on the principle of democratization of the administrations at all levels.
The program also provides for the protection of democratic rights in practice rather than being an empty promise on “paper” as it has been so far. To this end, the program maintains the link between the principles that govern the major relationships between the country, the peoples and the Constitution and strives to put an end to the factional group mentality, instead promoting a system of governance in which the rule of law will prevail. The electoral and administrative systems of government will be both parliamentary and presidential. Political parties will be prevented from acquiring and running, directly or indirectly, economic institutions. The establishment of a political system whereby power belongs to the people has been considered as the cornerstone of the system.
Part II of the program deals with the economy and puts particular emphasis on the system of land ownership and the preservations of natural resources. As the practices of past governments and the present one testify, policies on both land ownership and the overall economy were shaped in such a way as to reflect factional group interests that were imposed on the whole population. As the policies did not reflect objective reality, they led to a path of devastation instead of development. Thus, the ESDP program presents an alternative that puts an end to such ill-conceived practices.
The ESDP espouses the principle of Social Market Economy. It also believes that “market anarchy” should not be allowed to prevail and proposes measures that will have to be taken to stabilize the market and protect it from being invaded by cheap imported commodities. The need is also felt for the establishment of an administrative system free from any form of corruption and the setting up of speedy corrective mechanisms whenever corruption occurs at any level of authority or at the level of the individual.
The ESDP program puts emphasis on the need to guarantee human equality and individual freedom; holds that children must be brought up in a manner that would mould an all rounded personality. We realize the grim fact that human and democratic rights are so far suppressed in Ethiopia; frustrating development of self-confidence in the population in order to overcome the diverse challenges they are face with.
In part III of the program, the ESDP emphasizes the need to rectify the shortcomings regarding the recognition and promotion of the rights of women, children, the youth, trade unions, civic and professional organizations, etc. The ESDP espouses transparent and democratic mechanisms for the realization of these rights. The party will work towards curbing the prevailing tradition of “organizing” citizens to promote “factional interests” and instead concentrate on mobilizing citizens’ potentials for common national development. The ESDP believes that politics conducted on a conspiratorial manner will only undermine national development and hence must be overcome.
Part IV of this program addresses the increasingly unwarranted utilization of natural resources and the increasing contamination of the environment with industrial waste, which is causing enormous ecological destruction. As a corollary of this, environmental protection activities should be instituted throughout the country with the aim of preserving the water, air, soil, the flora and fauna of the country.
Part V addresses matters relating to national defense. ESDP’s policy on Defense Forces emanates from the realization that its functions so far have not been limited to defending the sovereignty and national integrity of the country, but instead was used as an instrument of repression by all governments that rule the country so far. ESDP thus believes in establishing a well-trained professional army on the basis of balanced representation of all nationalities and peoples of the country.
We also realize that the existing Security and the Police forces suffer from lack of proper guiding principles. As a result, there is an obvious lack of healthy and trustworthy relationship between the general population and the two institutions. The ESDP believes that the practice of utilizing these forces to promote the sectarian interests of one factional group a party in power should not be allowed.
ESDP would want to have the Army, the Security and the Police forces reorganized so as to gain the respect of the population and discharge their national duties. The defense, the Security and the Policy shall be established at the Federal level. In addition, all the Regional Governments shall have their own Police force that will have the same level of training and organizational structure with Federal Police force.
Autonomous regional Governments shall be formed with clear Constitutional mandates and authority in a manner that avoids anarchy.
Part VI deals with the diplomatic rules and procedures that will guide diplomatic relations in a manner that will uphold the sovereignty, the honor and interests of the country. No foreign relation should serve to uphold the dominance of any narrow group interest. There shall be no place for diplomatic relations that would accept the dominance of other governments while undermining the interests of the country and its peoples. The ESDP shall accept, respect and defend the Charters of the United Nation and the African Union and all other international conventions such as the UN Human Rights and agreements to which the Ethiopian Government is signatory to. The party will strive to consistently and determinedly conduct activities that would be exemplary in the process of implementing and abiding by the international conventions and agreements.
1. POLITICAL PRINCIPLES
Since Ethiopians have always been forced to bear the oppression of one ruler after another and had never been allowed to directly participate in the affairs of their country, no competent administration was established in all parts of the country at any time. The need for the establishment of an administrative system capable of protecting the rights of the citizens has remained an unfulfilled political agenda of the country. Hence, the Ethiopian Social Democratic Party believes that a system of government based on the following principles must be established in Ethiopia.
1.1. Establishment of Government
- The government’s political power will be based on democratic principles emanating from the will of the people as expressed through free elections and must be governed by the rule of law.
- The constitution, which shall be the supreme law of the land will be amended through referenda and will be preserved while the necessary amendments shall be made as needed in the future.
- A multiparty system shall be established on the basis of a popular democratic system and government power shall be secured through a free, direct and fair elections. The party or parties that emerge victorious from the election shall be determined through a system of proportional representation.
- An election executive body that is capable of implementing free and fair election with the full trust of all the parties will be established.
- Government shall be established on the principle of non-interference the center in the periphery and non-duplication of functions between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the administration.
- The legislative branch of government shall be established through free and fair elections and all who meet the criteria for candidacy will be free to compete in the elections without any hindrance.
- The legislative branch shall have two Houses. These are the House of People’s Representatives and the Senate.
- The House of People’s Representatives shall enact the Laws of the land, and these shall be ratified by the Senate.
- The President who will be the Head of State shall be elected by the joint meeting of the two legislative Houses and shall provide supreme leadership to the country.
- The House of People’s Representatives shall elect the Prime Minister who will responsible to the President and coordinate and lead the executive branch of the Federal government.
- Main policy matters, such as annual budgets, foreign loans, the appointment of government officials, shall be as approved by the House of People’s Representatives.
- The organs of justice administration or the courts will be established and led by professional lawyers that will be appointed on the bases of merit – competence, experience and good track record on the administration of fair justice.
- The judicial organs shall be free from interference and influence and will discharge their duties in accordance with the law. The Supreme Court shall have the authority to interpret the Constitution.
- The administrative shall be based on a Federal system that will take into consideration the developmental, geographic, historical, cultural and linguistic criteria. The population shall exercise self-government through autonomous Regional and Local administrations.
- A system will be established and strengthened so that the people will be able to elect their representatives to various administrative posts, control their activities and in case they lose trust in them, recall or dismiss them according to the law.
- Political parties that compete in elections and win more than 2.5 per cent of electoral support or seats in the legislative councils will be granted proportional representation in government both at the Federal and Regional levels, as the case may be.
- Relations between autonomous administrative Regions shall be based on equality and mutual cooperation and whenever disputes emerge, those will be addressed through mutual discussion and through assistance from the federal government, if found necessary.
- Disputes between autonomous Regions and the Federal government shall be dealt with as provided for in the Constitution and other relevant legislations.
1.2. Human and Democratic Rights
- The freedoms and rights of the individual, family, community and society will be respected irrespective of racial, gender, religious, political, regional or any other considerations.
- The rights of citizens to life, speech, assembly, organization, demonstration, faith and the right to leave the country and return, including the right of free movement within the country shall be respected.
- All persons are equal before the law.
- No person shall be deprived of his/her life without the due process of law.
- No person shall be detained, searched or investigated illegally. Their place of residence will not be trespassed, their telephone conversations will not be bugged, and the privacy of their postal and other correspondences will not be interfered with, without the consent of the concerned citizens.
- Citizens living in any part of the country will have the right to work, to legally acquire property, use, inherit, sell or buy property.
- The properties of citizens shall not be confiscated or transferred to others without the decision of pertinent legal authority.
- The government shall respect the rights of women to acquire property.
- The government shall protect intellectual property rights as per relevant national and international laws.
- Proclamations pertaining to human rights and adopted by the United Nations, the African Union and other international forums will be duly respected.
1.3. The Rights of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples
- Since Ethiopia is a country of many Nations and Nationalities and Peoples, which are also the basis of her unity and strength, special attention will be given to the task of building and strengthening a system whereby equality before the law will be guaranteed.
- Necessary measures will be taken so that all the nations and peoples of the country will strengthen their sense of unity and live together in equality, mutual respect and tolerance by developing a strong conviction, tradition and culture to this effect.
- The rights of minorities living among other nations, nationalities and peoples will be protected.
- The rights of Nations, Nationalities and Peoples for self-administration, development, the use of their languages and the preservation and development of their cultures will be protected.
- All Nations, Nationalities and Peoples will enjoy the right to equally participate in the political, economic and social life of the country without any discrimination, and government will ensure that their proportional representation in the central government is duly respected.
1.4. State and Religion
- There shall be separation of the State and religion.
- Citizens’ religious freedom shall be respected.
- The government will see to it that freedom of religion will not impinge upon the security of the country, the wellbeing of the whole population and the freedom of other citizens.
- The equality of all religions shall be respected.
- There shall be no interference by one religious institution in the affairs of another religious institution.
2. ECONOMIC PRINCIPLES
ESDP’s economic policy will be shaped in such a way as to preserve the interests of our peoples and will be based on social market principles in order to bring about speedy development by expanding the forces of production and infrastructures.
The role of the state in the economy will be limited while encouraging the participation of domestic and foreign investors, bringing about food self-sufficiency and promoting modern agricultural and industrial development. The Government will create a conducive environment for the unrestrained flow of capital as provided for by rules and regulations.
One of the main roles of the government in the economy will be to guarantee a fair share to all members of society from the wealth and income of the country.
2.1. The Agricultural Sector
- Land ownership will be determined in accordance with the acquiescence of the population conditional on the prevailing reality of each region.
- Land can be owned as the property of the individual peasant farmer, pastoralists, producers’ associations, producers’ cooperatives, the community or the State, as the situation may present, and shall be part of the general economic activity like any other property.
- Conditions shall be created for the fair distribution of land and farmers will be made to use modern technology and other agricultural inputs in order to boost the economy.
- Government will provide farmers with silos and pesticides and create markets for their produces and take market stabilization measures in the bid to consolidate the agricultural sector.
- Government will take the necessary measures to protect local plant species and crops against genetically modified varieties.
- Government will support pastoralist communities by providing them with modern livestock rearing facilities and by encouraging them to start sedentary farming activities. Grazing land will be the property of the entire pastoralist community.
- Regional and federal administrations will provide support for investors to get involved in the development of extensive and modern farming. Government owned lands those owned by others would be made available to the investors in a fair and transparent manner. Appropriate compensation will be paid or substitute land will be given to owners whose land is taken for investment and for other public utility.
- Appropriate condition will be created for investors engaged in modern farming by granting land through lease or contract without bureaucratic red tape and allow them to transfer their plots to another party that will put it to better use.
2.2. Trade and Industry Sector
- Appropriate policy will be enacted to promote the development of modern agro-industry.
- Cottage industries and small and medium-size enterprises that utilize farm products and other raw materials to manufacture goods that have better demands and market values, will be set up in all regions in a balanced manner.
- Special incentives will be provided to industries that utilize local raw materials to manufacture products geared towards earning hard currency or those that are engaged in industrial activities that promote the agricultural sector.
- The private investor will have the right to own land through lease or contract and has the right to mortgage, sell, give in inheritance or transfer their plots for those who would use them for similar purposes or for better investment.
- Heavy industries with strategic significance and have linkages with small industries and the farm sector will be set up at appropriate locations.
- Government will take part in the establishment of heavy industries that have strategic significance but are beyond the capacity of private investors.
- All necessary measures will be taken to expand foreign trade.
2.3. The Financial Sector
- The federal government shall have the authority for printing, distributing and controlling national currency.
- Banks and insurance companies can be established by domestic investors; through joint ventures between domestic investors and the government on the one hand, and domestic and foreign investors on the other.
- Banks and insurance companies will function in accordance with the principle of social market economy.
- Loan and savings institutions will be expanded for the benefit of the peasant farmers and the urban poor.
2.4. Infrastructure Sector
- Government will have a big share in large-scale mineral resources development, in large-scale dam construction and irrigation projects, in oil exploration etc. Domestic and foreign investors will be encouraged and provided with incentives to encourage them to engage in these activities.
- Government will have a sizable share in the development of the telecommunication, postal, electric, water, rail, airline and transnational highway services. Domestic and foreign investors will be encouraged and provided with incentives to engage them in these endeavors.
2.5 The Services Sector
- The federal and regional governments will create proper conditions so that forests, parks etc. will be utilized for development purposes.
- Appropriate care will be taken for the preservation of indigenous plant and animal species that have various uses and due attention will be given for the promotion of tourism.
- Government will create conditions for private investors to engaged in the development of air transport, travel services, modern hotels and the development of historical and natural sites for the growth of tourism industry.
- Government will expand Information and Communication Technology (ICT) so that it will expedite international and domestic communications to promote the economy through speedy services.
2.6. Urban Development
- Towns will be developed and expanded according to modern planning.
- A strategy will be put in place for narrowing the gap in the standard of living between the urban and rural areas.
- Citizens’ right to own private houses will be respected.
- Private investors will have the right to build residential houses for rent.
- Government will provide residential quarters to low-income residents with reasonable rents.
- Mass media services will be freely expanded. Private investors will have the right to own and set up private print and electronics media such as radio and television.
3. SOCIAL AFFAIRS
3.1. History and Culture
- The history and culture of the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia will be duly studied; and their cultures and traditions, music, literature and arts will be developed.
- Harmful traditional practices will be identified and practical measures taken to enable the society to properly understand and avoid them.
- The ancient and recent historical heritages of the country such as churches, mosques, archeological sites, etc will be preserved.
- Government will provide support for promoting the study of the language of each and every nation, nationality and peoples and for the development of its literature.
- Amharic will continue to serve as the common language of communication so that activities at the federal level will continue smoothly. Preparations will be made so that the Oromo language and other major languages will also serve as common languages in a similar manner.
- An educational policy will be enacted with the aim of expediting the political, economic and social development of the country with the participation of competent scholars and pertinent experts and the general public. The educational system will be geared to the prevailing international systems and would aim at alleviating the problems faced by the country.
- Children will receive primary education in their mother tongue or language of birth.
- Programs and campaigns will be launched to promote adult literacy education and handicrafts with a view to overcoming illiteracy.
- Regular schools will be expanded at all levels in an equitable manner. All citizens will be provided with free elementary and technical secondary education.
- Higher educational institutions will be expanded everywhere in an equitable manner in order to meet the skilled manpower needs of the country in all fields of endeavors. A system will be established whereby the cost of tertiary education will be partially covered by the students through loans.
- Appropriate support will be given to the communities, non-governmental organizations and private investors to facilitate their participation in the construction of educational establishments in the country. Proper supervision mechanism will be put in place to ensure of the quality of education.
- Appropriate measures will be taken for the establishment of centers of scientific and technological research that will expedite the economic development of the country.
- Basic health services will be provided for all. A mechanism will be put in place for the provision of advanced health services to citizens who are unable to cover the costs.
- Health services will be provided through sustained training and research and will be supported by modern technology.
- Hospitals, clinics, health posts, pharmacies and rural drug stores will be expanded in an equitable manner. Government will supervise the efficiency of their services and the distribution of medicaments.
- The participation of private investors and non-governmental agencies in the health sector will be encouraged.
- Appropriate support will be provided for scientific research on traditional medicines and to implementing the findings.
- Sports and recreational centers will be expanded throughout the country so that citizens would enjoy physical and mental health. Special attention will be given to the development of traditional sports.
- Provision of potable water, nutritious and balanced diet and a clean and healthy environment to the people, will be the ultimate goal.
- Programs will be designed and implemented for the prevention and treatment of communicable diseases and for the control and eradication of such diseases as malaria, HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, etc.
- A health care strategy based on prevention will be put in place; will have programs that would protect the population from narcotics and harmful cultural practices.
3.5. Social Security
- A social security system will be set up in order to curb disparities in the standard of living and to prevent the majority of the people from sinking into poverty while a few of them lead a life of luxury with the resources of the country. However, since work is virtue, all citizens should work hard in order to own property.
- Conditions will be created and support will be given for the rehabilitation of citizens displaced by man-made and natural calamities.
- Help and support will be provided under the relevant social security law for citizens who retire because of old age or bad health after serving their country honestly and trustfully. Pensions will be regularly revised by taking into consideration the cost of living and price fluctuations so that they will help meet the basic needs of life.
- The rights of trade unions to free organization, their rights to bargain for the betterment of the standard of living of workers will be respected.
- The rights of children, youngsters and women will be protected. Support will be given to orphaned children and the youth so that they would receive education and become productive citizens. Special attention will be given to the creation of employment opportunities for women so that they may not be forced to practice prostitution for lack of alternative means of livelihood.
- In order to bring about administrative justice, the employment, promotion, skill upgrading and other benefits will be based on merit and competence. By promoting development programs that would create more jobs, a strategy will be devised by the government for containment of unemployment.
- Since the family is the basis of a society, every care will be taken to ensure its overall wellbeing.
- Physically disabled citizens will be trained in occupations that are suitable to physical condition.
- Appropriate provisions will be put in place so that the elderly, the handicapped and orphaned children will receive the necessary care.
- Since it is quite obvious that government alone cannot shoulder talking the immense problems of poverty and backwardness the country is facing, various non-governmental and civic organizations will be encouraged and assisted to provide various services to the society.
4. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Appropriate measures will be taken to protect air, soil and water from pollution and degradation; the flora and fauna from destruction; minerals from wasteful usage to properly manage industrial waste; thus, making the environment safe habitat for the survival of human beings, animals and plants. To this effect:
- Protective steps will be taken so that the direct impact human beings and animals exert on the soil would not expose it to rain and wind erosion.
- Preventive measures will be instituted so that soil and air pollution will not result from the expansion of towns, population growth and from chemicals and industrial waste products.
- Measures will be taken to expand and conserve plants and vegetations so that they will continue to positively impact on the general environment and the climate of the country.
- Continuous precautions will be taken so that water and air that are among the foundations of life will not be wasted or polluted.
- Measures will be taken so that industries would not have negative impacts on the environment.
- Continued work will be undertaken so that environmental issues will gain awareness among the people.
- Continued educational and awareness creation activities will be conducted in schools, within mass organizations, factories, various work places and within religious institutions so that there will be a conscious popular commitment concerning environmental protection and preservation of natural resources.
- Policy will be devised and implemented for the preservation of natural resources and more particularly the preservation of forests, soil and water resources.
5. NATIONAL DEFENSE AND SECURITY AND THE POLICE
Since matters pertinent to the defense and security of the people and the country cannot be left to individual discretion of certain groups or parties, the organization of the army and practical principles and foundations have general characteristics.
5.1. National Defense
- A national defense force will be organized at the federal level with the objective of protection of the territorial sovereignty of the country and its allegiance will be to the people, the country and to the laws of the country.
- The recruitment, training, appointment and promotion of members of the defense force will only be based on potential military skills, competence and merit. Its composition will be from all regions and without bias to nationality, cultural background or religion…etc.
- The size of the defense force will be within the economic constraints of the country and will meet the critical defense needs.
- Members of the defense force will not have membership to any political party while they will have the right to elect or be elected individually.
- Basic military training will be provided on a voluntarily basis to citizens to enable them gain physical and mental strength.
5.2. National Security
- A national security institution, the responsibilities of which will only be ensuring the security of the country and the population, will be organized at the federal level.
- Recruitment into the institution and training of members will only be based on merit and will make no differentiation between citizens.
- Members of the national security cannot be members of political parties and their allegiance will only be to the laws of the land.
- The size of the security personnel will be determined by the need to preserve the security of the country and its people.
5.3. The Police Force
- The police force will be established at all levels of administration, based on the principles of crime prevention and investigation and with the mission of securing peace for the people and the country.
- Although the size of the police force will be determined in accordance with the needs deployment. Uniformity in recruitment and training will be maintained all across the country.
- A competent professional police force will be set up at the federal level with a preparedness or capability to work with regional and global police institutions.
- Members of the police force will not belong to any political party.
- In order to assist the judicial process more efficient, the police force will be organized professional in the use of modern technology in crime prevention and investigation.
6. FOREIGN POLICY
- The ESDP’s foreign policy will be based on the principles of upholding the sovereignty of the country and maintaining amicable relationships with other countries.
- It will be based on respect for the sovereignty of other countries, non-intervention in their internal affairs, and on respect for common interests and peaceful coexistence.
- It will be based on the principles of good neighborliness with neighboring countries and on promoting and consolidating relationships that will promote common interests on the basis of equality.
- It will be based on the principles of respect for the Charters of the United Nations and the African Union and other international conventions and agreements on and resistance to any form of undue pressure from the outside.
- The rights of Ethiopians living outside their country will be defended and protected.
- There will not be handing over or extradition of Ethiopian citizens to another government.
- The legal rights of foreigners living in Ethiopia will be respected.
- If found necessary, appropriate measures would be taken for abrogation of earlier agreements that have proved damaging to Ethiopia’s interests.
- Efforts will be made to make diplomatic relations with the developed countries an avenue of transfer of knowledge and modern technology.