Conference on the Future of Ethiopia: Transition, Democracy, and National Unity



Noting many disturbing events taking place today in Ethiopia, particularly in the Oromia Region, Vision Ethiopia, an independent network of Ethiopian academics and professionals, in collaboration with Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio (ESAT) is convening a two-day long conference in Georgetown Marriot Hotel, Washington, D.C., March 26 and 27, 2016 under the topic and theme of “Transition, Democracy, and National Unity”.

The goal of the conference is to open a forum for reflection and bring together different political and civic organizations, religious and community leaders, and activists as well as independent scholars and professionals to deliberate on the critical themes of ways and means of resolving conflict and maintaining the national unity of Ethiopia.

The conference is divided in to six sessions addressing six different questions.

  1. How could faith institutions, civic movements, and social organizations help in conflict resolutions and facilitating democracy, unity and transition to a peaceful and democratic post-conflict Ethiopia?
  1. What could Ethiopians learn from the US policy towards Africa and the experiences of African countries in transitions to democracy?
  1. How should Ethiopian political organizations be understood? What are their roles and contributions in shaping the democratic struggle of the Ethiopian people and assuring peace and unity of the country in post-conflict Ethiopia?
  1. What is expected of Ethiopian women in the struggle and conflict resolutions to facilitate democracy and unity during the transition to a post-conflict Ethiopia?
  1. How should the current    economic, political, and social turmoil in Ethiopia be conceptualized, explained, and synthesized, and what are the most important ideas for shaping the future of Ethiopia?
  1. Quo Vadis? Where are we going? Who should do what to guarantee democracy, transition, and unity in post-conflict Ethiopia?


Saturday, March 26, 2016

9:00: Welcome Coffee and Registration

9:30: Welcome by MC

Ms. Birtawit Girmaye: Studio Manager, Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio (ESAT), Washington, D.C.

9:45: Opening Remarks

Vision Ethiopia: Professor Getachew Begashaw, Chairman


ESAT: Mr. Gizaw Legesse, Producer of “Ethiopia Nege” Show

10:00: Session A

The Roles of Faith Institutions, Civic Movements, and Social Organizations in Conflict Resolutions and Facilitating Democracy, Unity and Transition to Post Conflict Ethiopia

Moderator: Dr. Ashenafi Gossaye: Former Asst. Professor at Addis Ababa University, Fulbright Fellow and Faculty, University of Washington, Seattle, and Professional Urban Planner.

Blessings:Faith Organizations (Orthodox, Protestant, and Muslim)

Panelists: Dr. Assegid Habtewold: Coach, Consultant, Trainer, and Speaker and Former President of Addis Ababa University Students Union and EDP Leadership.

Mr Obang Metho: Executive Director, Solidarity Movement of New Ethiopia, and Human Rights Advocate.

Mr. Gashaw Gebre: Human Rights Advocate and Researcher, Virginia

Mr. Abiye Yassin Ibrahim: Activist and Coordinator, Addis Mieraf Team, Belgium.

Dr. Erku Yimer: Former Executive Director of Ethiopian Community Association in Chicago and Human Rights Advocate, Chicago, Illinois.

1:00 Lunch

2:00 Session B

The Role of the US Policy Towards Africa and the Experiences of African Countries in Transitions to Democracy: The Lessons for Ethiopia

Moderator:Professor Minga Negash: Professor of Accounting, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Colorado and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Panelists: Professor George Ayittey: Professor of Economics, American University, Washington DC, and President of African Freedom Foundation.

Dr. Anuradha Mittal: Executive Director, The Oakland Institute,

Oakland, California.

Professor John Harbeson: Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Graduate Center, City College of New York in CUNY and Professorial Lecturer, Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

3:30 Coffee Break

4:00 Session C

Understanding Political Organizations: Roles and Contributions of Political Organizations in Shaping the Democratic Struggle of the Ethiopian People and Assuring Peace and Unity of the Country in Post Conflict Ethiopia. 

Moderator: Professor Getachew Begashaw: Professor of Economics, Harper College, Chicago, Illinois.

Panelists: Mr. Aklilu Wendaferew: Member of the Executive Committee of Shengo,

Mr. Lencho Bati: Memebr of Executive Committee, Oromo Democratic Front

Mr. Neanin Zeleke: Foreign Relations Officer and Member of the Leadership Committee, Patriotic Ginbot 7.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

9:00: Welcome Coffee and Registration

9:30 Session D

Women’s Voice: Women’s Share in the Struggle and Conflict Resolutions to Facilitate Democracy, Unity, and Transition to Post Conflict Ethiopia.

Moderator: Ms. Lulit Mesfin

Panelists: Ms. Elsabeth Lakew:  Political Science Student, Howard University and Organizer at Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition

Ms. Sewasew S.Johannessen: Manager, The Ark of The New Covenant Healing Ministry, Norway.

Ms. Asayesh Tamiru: Human Rights Advocate, Frankfurt, Germany.

Ms. Wessen Debela: Human Rights Advocate and member of Center for Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW), Washington, DC and

11:30 Panel E

Ethiopian Scholars Forum 1: Conceptualizing, Explaining, and Synthesizing the Current    Economic, Political, and Social Situations, and Ideas for Shaping the Future of Ethiopia.

Moderator: Mr. Gizaw Legesse: Manager, IT Division, Department of Labor, Washington, DC

Panelists: Mr. Ermias Legesse: Former Deputy Minister of Government Communication, Author, and Human Rights Advocate.

Dr. Mesfin Abdi: Former Lecturer at Addis Ababa University and Researcher.

Professor Seid Hassan:  Professor of Economics, Murray State University, Kentucky


Professor Ezkiel Gebissa:  Professor of History, Kettering University, Michigan, President Elect, Oromo Studies Association

1:30:  Lunch Break

2:30: Session F

Ethiopian Scholars Forum 2: Quo Vadis? Where are we going to? 

The Un-Answered Questions: Who Should Do What to Guarantee Democracy, Transition, and Unity in Post Conflict Ethiopia?

Moderator:Professor Minga Negash: Professor of Accounting, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Colorado and the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Panelists: Professor Teshome Abebe: Former Provost and Academic Vice President, Eastern Illinois University and Professor of Economics, Illinois.

Dr. Beyan Asoba: Lawyer and Human Rights Advocate and Member of the Oromo Democratic Front.

Professor Alemayehu Gebremariam (Al Mariam): Professor of Political Science, California State University, San Bernardino, Attorney at Law, and weekly blogger on Huffington Post.

Professor Messay Kebede: Professor of Philosophy, University of Dayton, Ohio.

Closing Remarks on behalf of Vision Ethiopia

Dr. Ashenafi Gossaye

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