Abyssinia Law - Made for the People

Log in Register

Log in

Or sign in with your account on:

Not a member yet? Register
You are here: Home Blog Posts Opinion/Critiques/Public Lecture Commentary on the draft proclamation of special interest of state of Oromia in Addis Ababa city
22 Nov
Written by 

Commentary on the draft proclamation of special interest of state of Oromia in Addis Ababa city

INTRODUCTION

The advent of a modern constitution in Ethiopia goes back to the 1931 Constitution which was designed to fortify an absolute monarchy. It was revised in 1955. Unlike its predecessor, the Revised Constitution had a section on the “Rights and Duties of the People” devoted to several human rights and democratic freedoms. Another constitution came in 1987 under the military dictatorship. On paper, the 1987 Constitution guaranteed civil and political rights and personal freedoms though, in practice, none of these were protected in any manner. All three constitutions made sure that the issues of group rights, such as the interest of Oromo People in Addis Ababa City, were not raised.

In 1991, the Transitional Charter was issued to establish the Transitional Government (1991-1995). Enacted during the Transitional Period, a proclamation to provide for the Establishment of National/Regional Self-governments, proclamation number 7/1992, Article 3(4) reads:

The special national interests and political right of the Oromo over Region 13 [Harari] and Region 14 [Addis Ababa] are reserved.  These regions shall be accountable to the Central Transitional Government and the relations of these Self-governments with the Central Government shall be prescribed in detail by a special law.

Pursuant to the article of this proclamation, the People of Oromo Nation have interest and political right over Addis Ababa and Harari. In legal parlance, the addition of political right was a redundancy unless it was used to avoid doubt for the sake of clarity. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th edition, 1990, interest is a synergy of rights, powers, immunities and privileges. Special interest contains political power and ownership right. During the Transition, a special law to determine the accountability of the regions to the Central Government was not enacted.

The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was adopted on December 8, 1994 and came into force on August 21, 1995. This Constitution establishes a federal and democratic state structure, comprised of nine states; Articles 1, 2, 46, 47 and 50. Chapter three, Articles 13-44, of the Constitution has dedicated guaranteeing human rights and democratic freedoms.

Article 49(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia states:

The special interest of the State of Oromia in Addis Ababa, regarding the provision of social services or the utilization of natural resources and other similar matters, as well as joint administrative matters arising from the location of Addis Ababa within the State of Oromia, shall be respected. Particulars shall be determined by law.

In the last quarter century, the Parliament has issued thousands of other legislations, including two Charters for the City.   The law that would determine the special interest of Oromia in Addis Ababa, a constitutional requirement, was never enacted. In 2009, an attempt was made to determine the particulars of Article 49(5). However, the proposed legislation, which contained 12 articles, did not become law.

The latest attempt to stipulate the special interest of Oromia in Addis Ababa was a draft proclamation that was announced in June, 2017.  Because it was introduced a few days before recess, the enactment of the draft proclamation was postponed to the next parliamentary session. It has 24 articles divided into six sections.

This commentary is intended to highlight the omissions, silences and misinterpretations of the draft proclamation assuming that the Parliament will reconsider it when it reconvenes. It is presented as a critique of specific provisions that defined the special interest in a manner that contradicts the intent of the constitutional provision or in such ambiguous ways that it would make implementation difficult. My commentary on the provisions of the daft proclamation flows from the following three premises:

  • Addis Ababa is not a member of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
  • Addis Ababa has always been historically, geographically and legally an Oromo City that happens to be a metropolis.
  • Special interest is a prominence given to a totality of the ownership right and power of Oromia and the immunity and privilege of the People of Oromo Nation over Addis Ababa City.

PRIMA FACIE

From the outset, the draft proclamation does not include the essential components of a bona fide proclamation. Firstly, it does not contain section on general provisions that at least state the proclamation does not abridge the general provision of Article 49(5) of the Constitution. Secondly, it should also incorporate guidelines which are central to realizing the totum of the proclamation.

PREAMBLE

The preamble of the draft proclamation hardly tries to indicate the rationale for the enactment of the law. It had better include the historical, cultural and socio economic ties of Addis Ababa to Oromia. Both of these elements must be included in the preamble to provide context and rationale to understanding the provisions and as a reference in case interpretation is required.

SECTION ONE

GENERAL

Article 2(4). This sub article states what constitutes “special interest”. The definition given for “special interest” does not serve the imperative of particularity that the Constitution requires. It restates the language of the general provision of the Constitution. The draft was meant to define the particulars, not repeat the framework of the Constitution. Likewise, the phrase “other similar matters” should not be restated in the draft law. The generality in the Constitution must be defined in particularity, leaving nothing to ambiguity, along with other explicit catalogues of special interest.

Article 2(5).  This pertains to the definition of ownership of the special interest. According to the Constitution, the Oromia National Regional State is the sole owner. The Oromo People, without exception, are the owner of Oromia. This is explicit in the preamble of the Revised Constitution of Oromia, proclamation number 46/2001, as well as in the preamble and Articles 8, 39 and 47 of the Federal Constitution with complementary provisions from the State Revised Constitution. The Revised Constitution of Oromia, Article 39(6), defines “the People of the Oromo Nation” as follows:

For the purpose of this Constitution, the expression “the People of the Oromo Nation” shall be construed as meaning those people who speak the Oromo language, who believe in their common Oromo identity, who share a large measure of a common culture as Oromo’s and who predominantly inhabit in a contiguous territory of the Regional State.

Contrary to the Federal Constitution, which defines the State of Oromia as owner of special interest par excellence, the draft proclamation defines the People of Oromo Nation as the beneficiary of the special interest and then redefines the People of Oromo Nation different from the definition given by the State Constitution. This sub article of the draft proclamation defines the People of Oromo Nation:

“The People of Oromo Nation” means including all People of Oromo Nation   residing in Addis Ababa City and the surrounding.

In the language of the draft proclamation, the definition is not qua Oromo and is strict. First, it reduces the interest of the People of Oromo Nation to the right of the Oromo People who live as minority. It nullifies the special interest when the new definition, in effect, is referring to the original natives of Addis Ababa, the Oromo clans of Galan, Abbichu, Deka and Gulalle, who were evicted by force.

Second, the definition is strict; it is time and place specific. Only those residing in Addis Ababa and the surrounding areas are identified as beneficiaries of special interest. In this definition, only a few, if not none, are beneficiaries. The term “residing” is difficult to decipher. It requires criteria beyond the mere fact of living in and environs of the City. In particular, in order for one to be identified as “resident” of the City one needs to have a resident’s identity card.

Third, extending the scope of special interest to the areas surrounding of the City is unconstitutional, as will be discussed later under Article 3 of the draft. Overall, there is no legal justification or any other rational for defining the People of Oromo Nation in a manner that contradicts the Constitution.

Article 2(6). This one deals with boundary delimitation. The delimitation of Addis Ababa’s boundary as the “boundary in between Addis Ababa City Government and Oromia Regional Government” is contrary to the constitutional provisions concerning boundary delimitation.  Article 2 of the Constitution emphasizes the territorial jurisdiction of Ethiopia is comprised of the territory of the members of the federation. Article 47(1) exhaustively lists nine members of the federation. By design, Addis Ababa is not listed as a state. Thus, the City cannot be a territorially defined entity within Ethiopia as of a state with a separate delimited territory. 

Further, Article 48 provides for demarcating boundary in between states and allows each state to draw administrative boundaries within its defined jurisdictions. In delimiting the “boundary in between Addis Ababa and Oromia”, the draft proclamation, in effect, carves out Addis Ababa from Oromia and elevates it to state’s status. This provision not only undermines the Constitution but also portends far reaching political repercussions.

The Constitution names and recognizes “Nations, Nationalities and Peoples” of Ethiopia as having sovereignty within their regional states. The Oromo People are among these sub nationals who have bundles of rights, inter alia, right to self-determination including secession; Article 39. However, the residents [the Amharic version of the same article says the Administration] of Addis Ababa have only the right to self-government; Article 49(2).

The Revised Charter of Addis Ababa City Government, proclamation number 361/2003, has defined what constitutes the residents’ right to self-government. Article 7 provides:

1). Without prejudice to the Constitution…, the residents of the City have the right to seek and receive information, forward their opinions, raise questions, and receive replies concerning decisions relating to the City.

2). Residents have the right to get services to be rendered by City Government in accordance with the principles of equality, transparency and equity.

3). Policies, budgets, plans and directives of the City Government be publicized to the residents.  

Based on the articulation of the Charter, the residents of Addis Ababa possess the right to self-government, which according to Fredric Kirgis, Degrees of Self-determination in the United Nations Era, 1994, is one version of self-determination. This means, residents of Addis Ababa have the right to self-government which is narrower in scope than the right to self-determination that the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia possess. Strictly speaking, the residents of Addis Ababa cannot enjoy all of their constitutional rights unless the City is part and parcel of Oromia. In effect, the draft proclamation disenfranchises the residents of Addis Ababa. The practice of carving out Addis Ababa as a territory to elevate the City to the status of a state does not guarantee the residents of Addis Ababa their full constitutional rights. There is no unconstitutional way of guaranteeing citizens constitutional rights. 

Delimiting the boundary of Addis Ababa should not be a continuous process that has no end. The expansionist scheme has gone on for a century. It should not be a national preoccupation anymore. The City has a legally defined territory. According to Article 2(1) of proclamation number 87/1997, the territory of the City includes existing urban areas and twenty three rural localities. It could not, legally, acquire more areas than what has been delimited and demarcated.

There have been attempts to expand Addis Ababa City limits beyond the boundary defined by the aforementioned law(s). One such attempt was the Revised Charter, which in violation of prior legal authority, tried to annex land from the outskirts of the City. Article 5 articulates:

Without prejudice to the existing one, the boundary of the City shall be delimited by an agreement to be made between the City Government and Oromia Regional Government or pursuant to the decision of the Federal Government.

The phrase, “Without prejudice to the existing one” is a plea to expand boundary of the City unimpeded. This intent was, once again, reflected in the Addis Ababa and the Surrounding Oromia Special Zone Integrated Development Plan, 2014-2038, commonly called the Master Plan. The Plan could have expanded the City which was aborted after strong opposition from the Oromo People.

In sum, the administrative boundary of Addis Ababa City and its surrounding has already been demarcated by proclamation number 87/1997. The administrative boundary of the City may be redrawn as deemed necessary for effective governance. However, there can be no new lawful boundary between Addis Ababa City and the State of Oromia, in practice or in nomenclature. In addition, the power to lawfully demarcate the boundary within the jurisdiction of Oromia belongs only to the Oromia National Regional State. By the same reference, Oromia should be the primary legal authority to resolve any boundary conflict between Addis Ababa and its neighboring towns, rural localities and zone(s).

Article 2(7). The inclusion of the Special Zone of Oromia Surrounding Finfinne in the scope of application of the special interest, as per the draft proclamation, is not defensible by any means. This will be dealt with further in a comment on Article 3 of the draft.

Article 3. According to the draft proclamation, the scope of application of the special interest provision extends beyond Addis Ababa, the only objective scope as per Article 49(5) of the Constitution. It extends into the Special Zone of Oromia Surrounding Finfinne. The notion that envisions expanding the scope beyond Addis Ababa is unconstitutional for the following reasons:

  • It is out of the scope the Constitution stipulates for special interest. The Constitution is pretty plain; “The special interest of the State of Oromia in Addis Ababa …shall be respected.” The scope of special interest is in Addis Ababa, solo and unaided.
  • The Federal Government has no power to legislate a law on State matters. The Federal Constitution has made a dichotomy of Federal vis- ả -vis States powers and that dichotomy of power has to be respected; Article 50, 51 and 52. The House of Peoples’ Representatives, the organ of Federal Government, has no legislative power over Special Zone of Oromia Surrounding Finfinne, one of the 20 zones of Oromia.
  • If the expanded scope of special interest is taken as defined by the draft proclamation, the Addis Ababa City Government will have a special interest over Special Zone rather Oromia having same rights over Addis Ababa. The Addis Ababa City Government, for instance, will have a joint administration interest over the Special Zone that is commensurate with that of the State of Oromia.
  • If, following the logical implication of the draft proclamation, the Special Zone is an object of special interest for Addis Ababa, then it follows that Oromia too will have only special interest over the Special Zone. By extension, Addis Ababa City will have joint administration interest over the Zone. In this vein, the Special Zone for all practical purpose becomes part and parcel of Addis Ababa City.

If the Constitution is to be respected, the proposition of the draft proclamation to extend the scope of application of the special interest and to carve out a new boundary of Addis Ababa cannot be constitutional.

SECTION TWO

THE SPECIAL INTEREST OF THE STATE IN THE CITY GOVERNMENT CONCERNING PROVISION OF SOCIAL SERVICES

Article 4. This article allows the People of Oromo Nation residing in the City to attend schools whose instructional media is Afaan Oromo, their mother tongue. It is not nondiscriminatory to open the Afaan Oromo schools for Oromo People residing in the City. These kinds of schools only serve an exclusion purpose. The better way around is to incorporate the education policy of Oromia into the education policy of the City at all schools in the City. The incorporation of the education policy of Oromia into the education policy of the City, applicable to all schools, is the inclusionary as a policy and enhances social interactions across linguistic lines.

Article 5. This article deals with provision of health services. Most people go to health institutions for things beyond their control, not because a constitutional special interest provision requires it.  Allowing access to Oromo residents of towns and rural localities surrounding Addis Ababa the same health care  services available to the residents of the City, as special interest is facetious from a legal stand point if not totally unwarranted. This provision does not belong in the law unless the City Government has the intention of denying access to people coming to the City from other regions of the country.

Article 6(1). This sub article defines the issue of language, which is a core means to the provision of social services. The draft proclamation mentions Afaan Oromo as a working language of the Addis Ababa City Government to deliver special interest services, only for the implementation of those covered in the draft proclamation. This is restrictive. Making Afaan Oromo the co-equal working language of the City Government answers the longstanding quest for equality and facilitates the delivery of social services without discrimination on the basis of one’s residence.

Article 6(2, 3, 4 and 5). The permissive provisions should be made mandatory.

Article 6(6). The original name of Addis Ababa, Finfinne, is an Afaan Oromo term and attests the abundance of hot springs. As per this sub article, Finfinne is recognized a legal appellation on an equal footing with the name Addis Ababa. However, the sub article also makes Finfinne the preferred reference used by Oromia. The name of the City should not be optional, preferential or interchangeable. It should be a legal requirement. This provision should be revised to make it binding so that everyone recognizes the equality of the name when referring to the City. In other words, the official name of the City in all cases would be  Finfinne/Addis Ababa.

SECTION THREE

THE SPECIAL INTEREST OF THE STATE IN THE CITY GOVERNMENT CONCERNING ECONOMIC PROVISION

Article 7. This article stipulates that Oromia has a right to land free of lease in Addis Ababa. It is not satisfactory to recognize the right of Oromia to acquire land in Addis Ababa for construction of government offices and public buildings free of lease. That is self-evident. The law defining the special interest of Oromia must provide specific implementation guidelines to the process in which Oromia acquires land within Addis Ababa.

Article 8. This article indicates the only sources of drinking water for Addis Ababa City is from the towns and rural communities surrounding the City. It conveys the provision of drinking water to those towns and rural communities through which the water lines pass across. It goes without saying that water should be provided to communities beyond those the City Government uses as servant tenement for its water lines. In fact, water should be distributed to all communities in need. 

Articles 9-11.  These provisions deal with creating job opportunity as element of special interest. A general reading of these articles suggests there are two kinds of activities which are listed as job opportunity. One is the general job opportunity in the City which is stated cursorily. Another is the drilling of water wells, disposal of wastes, provision of transportation, arrangement of market place and other similar activities.

One has to note whether these activities are special interest in the strict sense of the term. A creation of job opportunities is a subject to the government’s economic capacity and law of economics. If job creation is to be considered as a special interest, a fixed number of jobs, out of the total jobs, in the City should be held in reserve for the designated beneficiaries. Otherwise, these articles have to be deleted together as obfuscation of reality. They do not have actual bearing on the urban problem they purport to resolve.

Article 12. It provides the State employees and officials will be provided with condominiums in the City. This clause is inserted by self-interested State officials against the interest of Oromo People under the State of Oromia. It is clever to deal on special interest at level of personal interest disregarding the same interest which could be extended to the general public under the ownership of Oromia.

Article 13. This article sets provisions of adequate and sustainable compensation with respect to eviction. The article identifies two types of evictions in relation to time. One type of eviction covered by the article is the past displacement and exploitation; Article 13(2). Another is the potential for future displacement; Article 13(1). Both types of evictions are subjected to adequate and sustainable compensation. Sub article 3 indicates the establishment of an implementing agency with its own force.

However, the article is not comprehensive. It has no additional provisions on determination of adequate and sustainable compensation; basis and amount of compensation. Or there is no cross reference made to another related laws. The draft proclamation has not organized an implementing agency pursuant to Article 13(3) nor does it define the agency as the Joint Council; Article 16.

Another appraisal on this article is whether permitting eviction under the guise of an adequate and sustainable compensation is a matter of special interest. Providing compensation for lost property is an appropriate legal remedy; it is not a special interest. In fact, what amounts to special interest is to ensure that the People will no longer be evicted. Ensuring against eviction prima facie is not feasible without legal guarantee.

Laying a legal guarantee against eviction is justifiably a special interest for, but not limited to, the following reasons:

Firstly, unlawful evictions have so far resulted in the removal of an entire section of the Oromo People, consequently reducing majority inhabitants to a minority status in the City. The data of Central Statistics Agency, Housing and Population Census, 2008, shows only 19.50% is Oromo People from the total number of population, 2,739,551, of Addis Ababa City.

Secondly, the international community has repeatedly stated that [forced] evictions are a gross violation of human rights; United Nations Commission on Human Rights Resolutions 1993/77 and 2004/28.  Evictions that result in violation of indigenous peoples’ right to land constitute an international crime. Population transfers, mass expulsions, ethnic cleansing or similar practices which alter the ethnic or racial composition of the population and other practices involving the coerced and involuntary displacement of people from their homes, lands and other natural resources are prohibited; common Article 1(2) of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, social and Cultural Rights,  Article 2 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement [A/HRC/4/18, Annex 1]

Thirdly, development based on evictions are often planned or carried out to serve the “public interest”. The draft proclamation does not provide protection for the indigenous people. It does not respect procedural guarantees and due process. It results in people being pushed into extreme poverty and as such pose a risk to life itself; United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, Forced Eviction, Fact Sheet No. 25/Rev. 1, 2014. This is the case in Addis Ababa where the People of Oromo Nation have been evicted under the cover of development and infrastructure projects, such as large scale land acquisitions, urban renewal and city beautification. Development of Addis Ababa that does not involve the People of Oromo Nation as the core of the development process cannot be sustainable.

SECTION FOUR

THE SPECIAL INTEREST OF THE STATE IN THE CITY GOVERNMENT CONCERNING UTILIZATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

Articles 14 and 15. These articles of the draft proclamation determine the ways in which the surrounding towns and rural localities can benefit from the water basin development and management of waste.  The provisions of these articles are not compatible with the titles of the articles, watershed development and the right to be protected from environmental pollution respectively. The incompatibility can be expressed as follows:

1). It is more of to use the surrounding of the City as water lines tenement; Article 14

2). It is a scheme of letting waste out of the City despite adverse effect on the environment per se; Article 15(1 and 2).

3). It allows dumping the waste beyond the outlet capacity against compensation without forwarding any objective determinants or without reference to any other related law; Article 15(3).

4). It allows the City to get raw materials from the outskirts for its construction; Article 15(4) and

5). It requires the State Government to enter concession with the City Government to deal on disposal and recycling of the dump; Article 15(5).

When the Constitution mentions the utilization of natural resources of Addis Ababa as special interest of State of Oromia, it conveys the usus element of ownership of Oromia over the natural resources in Addis Ababa City. The provisions of the draft proclamation, on the contrary, adopt the schemes of the interest of the City in the natural resources of the surrounding area of the City and try to reduce its impact. On no account can the Federal Government enact this kind of proclamation under the guise of defining the particulars of special interest. It is not less than providing special interest of the City over the State.

In a way, these articles can be considered a small Master Plan, which allows the City to expand to 40 to 100 km radius surrounding the City. It is generally understood by the public at large that the Mater Plan had no positive benefit or a spillover effect for Oromia. The draft law is a plan to make the outskirts the landfill of the City. In particular, these articles of the draft prolong and legalize the dumping of the wastes which will result in pollution of rivers, soil, grazing land, lives and the total environment of the surrounding cities, towns and rural localities in exchange to delivering the smallest unit of special interest.

SECTION FIVE

JOINT COUNCIL

Articles 16 and 17. The Joint Council is established by the draft proclamation as a channeling body working on special interest covered and uncovered by the same. The head office of the Council is unquestionably to be located in Addis Ababa.

The Council is made accountable to the Federal Government. This is not in accordance with the federal arrangement the country is following. This Council is established to channel Addis Ababa and Oromia on special interest. It is true that as per Article 49(3) Addis Ababa is responsible to the Federal Government. It is true that Oromia is a self-determining State where its Government is accountable to the Oromo People and no one else. Moreover, it is about the interest of Oromia. Therefore, in order to seek a balance between the accountability of Addis Ababa City to the Federal Government and Oromia as the self-determining State in relation to the special interest of the State in the City, the Joint Council of the special interest should be an independent body. My own view is to make the Council accountable to the Government of Oromia. Regardless, the status of Addis Ababa as self-governing City should not be overlooked.

Article 18. The need for and the purpose of Joint Council cannot be reassigned. It follows up, executes, administers and supports the implementation of special interest of Oromia in Addis Ababa City as per the Constitution. In doing so, the draft reveals its shortcoming that it is not well prepared. On one hand, Articles 4-16 miss the purpose to determine the contents of special interest following the Constitution. On the other hand, Article 18, while listing the functions of the Council covers the contents of special interest to the extent that the Constitution permits, beyond which the provisions of the draft is committed to dissipate.

Articles 19 and 20. The Joint Council is composed of delegates from both the City Government and State in equal numbers. The number of members, structure, mandates and responsibilities, tenure, session formality, ethics of members and budget of the Council are postponed to be synchronized by regulation of Council of Ministers. It is not common practice in any promulgation to postpone the task of determining in a future date the definite number of members, working term and mandates and responsibilities of established organ as far as it is established by the same. The number of members, tenure and mandates and responsibilities must be clearly defined.

SECTION SIX

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

Articles 21-24. This section of the draft proclamation has provisions on different matters. In common practice, miscellaneous provisions include, inter alia, transitory provisions, repealed laws and amendment and its procedure.

The proclamation determining the particulars of special interest should include provisions on repealed laws. It should repeal the application of all laws which endanger the contents and implementation of the special interest. In particular, it should revoke the applicability of proclamation number 455/2005, Expropriation of Landholdings for the Public Purposes and Payment of Compensation, with its subsidiaries.

Moreover, the draft proclamation should include provisions on amendment and its procedures. It should add that the proclamation on special interest may be amended when any amendment is proposed by the Joint Council of special interest, approved by the joint session of the City Council of Addis Ababa and the Caffee of Oromia and forwarded to the House of Peoples’ Representatives.

 

ACTION POINTS

The concept of special interest entered the Ethiopian legal lexicon in 1992, in the Transitional Government Period. A proclamation enacted to establish National/Regional Self-governments, Article 3(4) of proclamation number 7/1992, reserved special national interests and political right of Oromo over Harari and Addis Ababa.

Article 49(5) of the Federal Constitution recognizes the special interest of the State of Oromia in Addis Ababa regarding the provision of social services, utilization of natural resources, joint administrative matters and other similar matters. The Constitution purposely employed the phrase “special interest” to imply ownership of the State of Oromia over Addis Ababa City. Special interest is a totality of ownership right and power of the State over the City and the immunity and privilege of the People of Oromo Nation not to be evicted from the City.

Further, the second proviso of Article 49(5) of the Constitution dictates that the particulars of special interest shall be determined by law. Therefore, it is the recommendation of the writer that the upcoming [law] proclamation should determine the following:

  1. Provision of Social Services

Access to housing, education, health, water, transport, social security, the addition of Afaan Oromo making the City a bilingual metropolis and other matters needed for achieving adequate living standards constitute social services. So, the legislation should unequivocally determine provision of social services.

  1. Utilization of Natural Resources

Water, forest, minerals, stones and everything else naturally found in Addis Ababa are natural resources. However, one may note that there are no natural resources within the City except land and other limited resources at outlets, which the City may offer to Oromia. The recognition of special interest concerning utilization of natural resources is an implied acknowledgement of ownership of Oromia over Addis Ababa; common Article 1(2) of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, social and Cultural Rights and Article 2 of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

  1. Joint Administrative Matters

Administration is an organization and direction of the policy making and policy implementation. In effect, its function involves and starts from representation in the Council of the City. In the Constitution, the word “joint” is important as it conveys fifty per share administration of the City. It implies equal representation in the City Government.

  1. Other Similar Matters

The phrase “other similar matters” on Article 49(5) of the Constitution indicates the elements of special interest are illustrative and not exhaustive. The aforementioned phrase has no objectivity. Thus, the following two lines of interpretations can be accorded.

The narrow line of interpretation argues the phrase is meant to show matters that are immediate to and necessary for the implementation of those expressly mentioned. Accordingly, it includes land administration, free access to infrastructures, buildings, halls, industry, naming of the City and sub cities, security matters, participation on policy matters affecting the special interest and the like. This argument has flaws. The provision of Article 49(5) is broad and there is no similarity in general sense between provision of social services and utilization of natural resources. There is no impartial correlation between provision of social resources and joint administrative matters. There is no objective parallelism between utilization of natural resources and joint administrative matters.

The second line of interpretation is comprehensive. It includes automatic representation without election or allocation of permanent seats of Addis Ababa City Council with all its paraphernalia, levy and collect revenues and taxes and the like. This position is plausible from the generality nature of the Constitution as a single word in the Constitution is not without purpose. In this regard, the coming proclamation should include provisions which enable the State of Oromia to share the fiscal power [levy and collect fee, profit, excise, turnover, stamp duty, value added, charge, royalty, capital gains, income,  etc.] of the City pursuant to the Revised Charter; Article 52.

  1. Addis Ababa as Part of Oromia vs. Independent City

During the Transitional Government, Addis Ababa was a City State as proclaimed under proclamation number 7/1992, Article 3(1). This proclamation was repealed by the Federal Constitution, whereby Addis Ababa is ceased to be a State; Article 47(1).

The Constitution spells out the residents [the Administration] of Addis Ababa have full measure of self-government and shall be represented in the House of Peoples' Representatives; Articles 49(2 and 4). These two sub articles give an impression that Addis Ababa is an independent City. It is under the same impression the Charters of the City were proclaimed, establishing the City Government; proclamations number 87/1997 and 361/2003.

The same Constitution emphasizes the location of Addis Ababa is within Oromia. In line with this scenario, Article 2(1) of the Revised Constitution of Oromia, proclamation number 46/2001, defines Oromia as an “...  uninterrupted territory ...” The quoted phrase is intended to convey Oromia as a contiguous landmass, the territory of which is connected from one point to the next without being interrupted. It, in effect, asserts Addis Ababa as part and parcel of the State or City within Oromia.

The above narratives are from different points of view. The comprehensive reading of the Constitution directs to the conclusion that Addis Ababa is a self-governing City within, part and parcel of, the uninterrupted territory of Oromia; Articles 2, 8, 39, 46, 47, 48 and 49. The proclamation is expected to entertain and harmonize the status of the City as self-governing City while determining the special interest of Oromia. In other words, the relation of Oromia with Addis Ababa should be defined as rights, powers, immunity and privileges while that of the residents are already defined by the Revised Charter; Article 7.

  1. Spillover Effects

In one way or another, as the minute of the Constitution confirms, the recognition of special interest is a due acknowledgement to the existence of [negative] spillover effect. The proclamation, while determining the special interest, should also include a mechanism to address the spillover effects such as the adverse environmental pollution the people at peripheries of the City are suffering from.

  1. Intergovernmental Relations

Federalism inevitably implies intergovernmental relations. Let alone the existence of the interests of Federal Government and Oromia over Addis Ababa, the recognition of special interest, joint administration in particular, of Oromia in the City Government, a self-governing City, necessitates the existence of intergovernmental relations.

The recognition of special interest of Oromia despite the fact that the City has full measure of self-government vis- -vis its accountability to the Federal Government necessitates a mechanism to manage the intergovernmental relations; Article 49(2, 3 and 5). The proclamation should ascertain these interrelations and establish a channeling institution, Joint Council, among and in between them.

The Constitution is general by its overall nature and Article 49(5) is not an exception. As the Constitution has the foregoing connotations to accomplish, the determining proclamation should prescribe the particulars of special interest in detail. Short of the anticipated particularity, the draft proclamation remains to be a claw back law, i.e. taking back or reversing the special interest that has been recognized by the Constitution.

 

Download this article with citation and the draft proclamation 

Betru Dibaba

I am a Lawyer, Bachelor Degree in Law, graduated from Mekelle University, College of Law and Governance in 2012. Since Jan 2013, I am working at China Hyway Group Limited, Ethiopian Branch as a Lawyer.