Ethiopia: Mistaking the antidote for a toxin

January 4, 2019 Africa , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS



Addisalem Mulat



Recently, Ethiopia’s House of People’s Representatives approved a draft bill that allowed a green light for the establishment of the Identity and State Boundaries Studying Commission with overall responsibility of issues. The commission is responsible for providing technical recommendations as an input in sorting out claims of identity and boundary affairs between neighboring states.


After a heated debate and extended hearing, the proclamation was approved by a majority vote with 33 in opposition and 4 abstiners.


As people say, some members of the House of People’s Representatives were shedding their bravado over and over again, in addition to trading taunts now and then. As they did not have any leverage to force, engulfed by the majority they gave up hope at the end of the day.


A positive outlook was dominating the entire hearing though members of the unreformed group made a frantic bid to pour cold water on the nation’s most pressing problems.


It is public knowledge that conflicts surface on and off in the Northwest and North Central parts of Ethiopia regarding identity and state boundaries, thus many lives have been claimed. As some areas are on shaky ground, they do need a swift solution before the situation gets into uncharted waters. Almost all Ethiopians accept as true that the approval of the proclamation establishing the boundary administration and identity affairs commission is timely but not ominous.


Taking the complaints as a backdrop I approached scholars with a view to having their take on the bill.


Relating to the matter, speaking to parliamentarians member of the House of Peoples Representatives Atsiba Aregawi said, “As a public forum debate is not staged pertaining to the draft law, I have the nerve to say, it will breach the provisions or decrees of the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia without a shadow of a doubt. Furthermore, the draft bill has the propensity of eroding the authority of the House of Federation and that of executives. Worse still, it will end up making the general public powerless apart from spawning other related problems.”


He continued: “By the same token, as concerned bodies did not involve themselves in the draft bill, undoubtedly it will not be free from bias. Besides, I do not think the commission will be neutral. Moreover, the draft bill contradicts with the constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Approving it may seem as simple as shelling peas but the outcome may be hazardous.”


Dr. Gezahagne Abebe is an instructor at Addis Ababa University, department of Geography and Environmental Studies. He noted that it cannot be gainsaid that the approval of the proclamation establishing the Boundary Administration and Identity Affairs Commission helps sort out problems related to identity and regional boundaries. If those who voice a complaint against the draft bill had familiarized themselves with the nitty-gritty of the commission, they would not have uttered a single word against the establishment of the commission. The draft bill really plays a major role in getting to the bottom of problems related to identity and state boundaries as it recommends lasting solutions. the birth of the commission rather paves way for a sustainable peace.


“If one clearly understands the intended goal of the commission towards troubleshooting challenges with a cool head and discerning eyes, one will not utter a single word to dissuade others. The displeased ones should be able to probe into the bottom of the friction through discussion than impudently and adamantly disapproving the coming into life of the commission. If they are not apprehensive to be honest to themselves, fact finding must not be a point of wrangling. As the House of Peoples Representatives stand for the general public, it is not that significant to have a public debate on this matter. Whenever conflict arises, the government should take instantaneous action bringing into play a range of swift solutions. Likewise, the commission helps one listen to the heartbeat of the general public and answers their questions shortly. It won approval to serve as an antidote not a toxin to harm any citizen. Surely, the commission through a thorough investigation will unravel problems related to identity and state boundaries.”


Speaking in parliament Atnafu Getu, member of the House of People representatives for his part said, “As the draft bill does not breach the constitutional provisions of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, I would say, the measure is timely and relevant.”


He added that the commission will come up with fruitful strategies by investigating problems focusing on identity and stateboundaries; it will play a major role in warding off to-dos.


“We must heed the fact that when citizens were suffering agonies under the iron grip of the unreformed government, such skeptics did not utter a word about violation of the constitution,” he wrapped up.


An instructor of history who wanted to be unanimous said, “In the not distant past, problems related to identity and state boundaries have escalated death tolls aside from reportedly making people to be foreign to their birthplaces. The situation of state boundaries was falling from the frying pan into the fire time and again. The whole lot was getting out of the hands of citizens, especially living in hot spots. People’s lives were turning upside down. All Ethiopians know the truth. Nothing is hidden from the general public. I do believe the truth will be unearthed soon. The truth shall not remain hidden. However, in due course, the saying ‘empty vessels make the most noise’ came into my mind in the blink of an eye. They did not know that they were falling on their own swords.”


TesfayeDaba, foreign relations, peace affairs standing committee secretary in Ethiopian parliament said, “The draft bill will not contravene the decrees of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The commission is responsible for coming up with alternative solutions that sound plausible. They table options for decision but not decide. Furthermore, the draft bill does not contradict with the decrees of the Federal Constitution.” He made clear the Premier will name appointees of the commission for approval for the parliament.


Shamble Negassa, a parliamentarian, noted that instead of arguing why the commission must not come to life it sounds wise to show concern how it cautiously conduct studies. Giving it due support and monitoring its activities must be made a point.





Addisalem Mulat

A published author, journalist, translator, host of a newspaper interview, contributor to magazines and teacher from Ethiopia.  M.A holder in English from Addis Ababa University.

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