The Prime Minister of Ethiopia said the constitution of the country has gaps about the formation of new regions in the country and lacks clarity about who takes power after the voting.
“There are a lot of gaps in the constitution… The constitution didn’t clearly state about the implementations ……It has a lot of gaps. For instance, if we take Article 47-3D of the current Ethiopian Constitution, after stating how one region can be formed, it says ‘the regional council will hand over its power to the people’. What does that mean? Does that mean each individual will go and take power of the presidency? Or will there be election and the power will then be handed over to those elected? It is not clear..This needs legal translation and discussion,” PM Abiy said.
He made the remark this afternoon at the Ethiopian Parliament responding to the questions the members of parliament raised about how the federal government is handling the demands coming from different zones of the Southern Region of the country to become an independent regional state.
He stressed that consultation is needed on how to address the demands of some zones in Southern Region of Ethiopia to conduct referendum and become independent regions. The people of those zones who are demanding for referendum to become region have to take into consideration if it is feasible for the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia to conduct ten referendums in such a short time and limited capacity, while it is been busy working to handle the general election this year.
He also indicated that the people in the Southern Region should be aware that upgrading zones to regional state status increases administrative cost and the number of civil servants, which will reduce the limited amount of budget that used to be directed to development projects.
“We will face major problem if we continue creating new regions and increase the number of civil servants,” he said, mentioning the problem of South Africa as an example. He noted that it is not the same to become self-administrative and to become a region. “…If we think that self-administration and becoming an independent regional are same and one, then Ethiopia needs 80 regions,” PM Abiy said. He noted that without not necessarily becoming a region, people can become self-administrative at zone or even wereda (district) level. He also stated that the federal government has no intention of making the Southern region a single region by any means.
It is recalled that one of the zones in the Southern Region of Ethiopia, Sidama, which is named after the Sidama ethnic group, which claims to indigenous people in the the zone, has become a new region of Ethiopia after conducting referendum. Following that referendum about ten ethnic based zones in the Southern Region have also demanded to hold similar referendum and become independent regional states. Among them are Welaita and Gurage zones.