A draft aimed at defining the special interest of the State of Oromia in Addis Ababa was announced in in June, 2017. Having read its contents, I would like to exercise my freedom of conscience per art. 29 of the FDRE Constitution and forward my humble and guileless opinion on major issues regarding the draft.

FIRST: The draft SHALL INCLUDE A CLEAR AND UNEQUIVOCAL GEOGRAPHICAL Boundaries of ADDIS ABABA in all directions. So far, this is not determined by the constitution, AA city and Megeleta Oromia. This is required to determine the geographical application of the draft because the draft itself, presumably, is about the interest of Oromia Regional State Govt (ORSG) in Addis Ababa – not about the interest of ORSG in Oromia. A clear demarcation alone would protect the interest of ORSG and its people. I hope no one would dare to call such demarcation a special interest of Oromia in AA!

SECOND: The draft, in my opinion, NIETHER GIVES NOR CREATES any special right to ORSG and its people, as illustrated as follows. (1) It provides that AA city administration shall open Schools that teach in Afan Oromo. Give me a break!! Is this a special interest or right. ORSG has already opened schools that teach in Amharic and Tigrigna for its Ethiopian residents who do not speak Afan Oromo. If AA Administration is not as democratic as ORSG to launch Afan Oromo School in this regard, ORSG can open such schools in AA since the city is part of the region and its capital too. (2) It recognizes the official use of the name “Finfine” by ORGS – not the Federal Government. This too is funny because it is already called like that by the ORSG. The state does not need authorization from the Federal govt. Even if it also became official for the Federal government, this should not be construed as a recognition and enforcement of the special interest of Oromia in AA because it is merely a reinstatement of the original and historical name of the city – Finfine. (3) It proclaims that residents of Oromia living in the so called “special zone?” shall have a right to clean environment; shall get public transportation that connects them to AA; shall have access to water and health services and shall get adequate compensation when they are evicted for investment shall have the right to clean. Seriously? These ones made me laugh like hell. I have been a legal professional for a decade and I would say that calling these as a “special interest” is a mockery of our legal system since they are simply legal rights of all Ethiopians recognized under our laws. All levels of the govt apparatus are required to respect and enforce them. We have a right to clean environment under art. 44 of the Constitution; the Federal government has an obligation to build highways and railroads that connect regional governments; and both AA city and Oromia Administration have obligation to provide access to health and other public services to all of their respective residents without discrimination based on race, gender, religion or any other status. Why on hell does the draft talks about expropriation of land in Oromia and a compensation therefor? On the one hand, this is not even about the interest of Oromia in AA, rather it is about the interest of Oromia in Oromia. I REALLY DO NOT GET IT!??? On the other, Oromia already has expropriation and compensation law (e.g. Oromia Proc. No. 130/1999 and 131/1999) and the Federal Government does not have a legislative mandate to govern expropriation in Oromia under the guise of the draft……

THIRD, the DRAFT SHOULD NOT DELEGATE LEGISLATIVE POWERS TO THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OR TO ANY COMMITTEE. Part of the major problems of art. 49(5) of the constitution is that it was, albeit deliberately, vague and left particulars to be determined by law. Because of this, it is not implemented for twenty five years. AA city charter provides that the territorial boundary of AA shall be set by agreement b/n the city and ORSG which never happened and due to this the alarming horizontal – not vertical – expansion of AA to Oromia not only failed to respect the special interest of Oromia but violated rights of its residents through evictions that made them homeless. Now too, the draft states that a joint committee composed of representatives of the city and ORSG which jointly administers the city will be established and that the powers and duties of this committee will be determined by regulations to be issued by the council of ministers. This is HIGHLY CONTENTIOUS, ANNOYINGLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO ABUSE, UNASHAMEDLY NON-TRANSPARENT AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL. It is so b/c: (1) why is the committee needed without clearly demarcating the territory of AA and in the absence of any “special interest” accorded to Oromia? (2) delegating a power to enact law to an executive organ on this issue would enable the council to, intentionally or unintentionally, give an abusive power to the alleged group of persons who form the committee, having the effect of undermining what should be the true object of the alleged draft. (3) They say “history repeats itself.” The past has shown us that such laws do not even get legislated or, when they do, are dotted by pitfalls. (4) Finally, the task does not demand delegation for determining the power and duty of the committee does not create unmanageable load of work for the HPR would not be a huge task. Especially because, for some reason it appears that the committee kind of acquires a maker or breaker role on the matter since the draft is devoid of any real and substantive rule that provides for a real special interest.

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