(OPride) – On June 27, Ethiopia’s council of ministers approved a new draft law on Oromia state’s long-neglected “special interest” over Addis Ababa. Far from clarifying an already vague, 26-years-old constitutional provision, the new proclamation has drawn the ire of Oromo activists.
On the surface, the new law attempts to articulate the intent behind four broad provisions in the Ethiopian constitution’s article 49 (5), which 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.”
Here is a direct (word-to-word) translation of those “particulars” that the Council of Ministers referred to the House of People’s Representatives for ratification. As written, the Amharic language draft, which is being denounced as master plan 2.0, is devoid of substance, vague and otherwise misleading.
On the provision of social services
The term social services encompasses public benefits such as education, food subsidies, health care, police, fire service, job training and housing. In this regard, the draft legislation stipulates the following:
Education: The Addis Ababa city administration shall facilitate and pay for the establishment of educational facilities where the city’s Oromo residents can educate their children in Afaan Oromo.
Health care: Oromo residents of towns and rural areas surrounding Addis Ababa shall be entitled to access health care services at government hospitals and medical facilities like any resident of the city.
Culture, language and arts:
- To ensure that Oromo residents in the city can benefit from the “special interest” provisions stipulated in this proclamation, Afaan Oromo shall serve as a working language of the City Administration.
- To reflect Oromo people’s identity and to commemorate historical events relevant to the region’s people, the original names of public squares, roads and neighborhoods could be restored as deemed necessary.
- The city administration will facilitate conditions for the construction and promotion of theaters, entertainment venues, and cultural and art centers that reflect Oromo culture and history in the city.
- The city administration will work with Oromia state authorities to make sure that museums in the city carry books and other artifacts on Oromo history and culture.
- There will be a condition whereby public media broadcasts in the city will be made available in Afaan Oromo.
- With relation to Oromia state, the city’s previous Oromo name, Finfinne, will have equal legal recognition as the name Addis Ababa. The particulars on the usage of the two names will be determined by a regulation.
On the utilization of natural resources:
- The Oromia state will be given land on which it can erect buildings for government activities and public services free of lease payment.
- The city administration shall provide drinking water, covering the cost, to towns and rural areas in Oromia that are located near the source of Addis Ababa’s potable water supply and along the route of the water pipeline.
- The provision of urban bus and taxi services as well as the train services and railtrack expansion shall take into account the surrounding urban centers of Oromia.
- Youth residents of Oromia towns and rural areas surrounding Addis Ababa will be made beneficiaries of the job opportunities in the city.
- Youth residents of Oromia towns and rural areas surrounding Addis Ababa will be made beneficiaries of the job opportunities that arise from water development, waste disposal, recycling, basin development, transport services and the likes.
Provision of Market places:
- The city administration shall establish market places, covering the cost, where farmers’ cooperatives from Oromia can sell their produce.
Condominium housing provision:
- Officials and employees of Oromia will be included, having a certain quota, in the lottery drawings of government-owned condominium housing in Addis Ababa.
Compensation and permanent rehabilitation
- Farmers in the city administration, who are displaced due to development activities, shall be entitled to compensation adequate for “permanent rehabilitation”.
- Farmers in the city administration, who were previously displaced due to development activities without adequate compensation, will be provided with rehabilitation services supported by a study.
- An agency that will oversee the implementation of farmers compensation and permanent rehabilitation support will be established.
- The city administration will cover the cost and facilitate basin development in towns and rural areas of Oromia located on the source of Addis Ababa’s potable water supply and along the route of the water pipeline.
- Oromia towns and rural areas surrounding Addis Ababa have the right to be protected from environmental pollution and harms caused by city’s solid and liquid waste disposal.
- Environmental impact assessment studies will be conducted on Oromia towns and rural areas surrounding Addis Ababa and necessary adjustments will be made to protect them from harms caused by the city’s solid and liquid waste disposal.
- Oromia towns and rural areas surrounding Addis Ababa shall be entitled to seek compensation from Addis Ababa for harms caused to humans, animals and the environment due to solid and liquid wastes disposed unprotected, uncontrolled and beyond the specified standard.
- Mining areas used for Addis Ababa city development will be rehabilitated to prevent pollution and restore their soil properties.
- Areas for the disposal of Addis Ababa city’s solid and liquid waste will be designated by joint study of the city administration and Oromia and it will be administered in a scientific manner.
On joint administrative matters
- A joint council in which the Addis Ababa city administration and Oromia state government will consult and decide on provisions and stipulations of this proclamation and related matters shall be established.
- The Joint Council shall be accountable to the federal government.
- The seat of the Joint Council shall be Addis Ababa.
- The objective of the Joint Council will be to monitor, assess and support the implementation of Oromia’s special interest, as laid out in art 49 (5) of the constitution and stipulated in this proclamation, with respect to the provision of social services, the utilization of natural resources and other similar matters, as well as joint administrative matters arising from Addis Ababa’s location within the state of Oromia.
- The members of the Joint Council shall be drawn in equal numbers from the Addis Ababa city council and Oromia’s council of representatives.
- The Council of Ministers will issue another regulation on the organization, powers, term limits, budget and other aspects of the Joint Council.
- All individuals and parties shall abide by or respect the implementation of this proclamation and subsequent regulations and guidelines issued by the council.
- No other law or ruling that opposes this proclamation and hinders the execution of matters stipulated herewith will be implemented.
* (Translation by OPride.com and HornAffairs.com).