The Sidama Referendum and the Preconditions of the Ethiopian Election Board: A reverse authority?

The Sidama Referendum and the Preconditions of the Ethiopian Election Board: A reverse authority?

Kinkino K. Lagide
The Sidama Referendum and the Preconditions of the Ethiopian Election Board: A reverse authority?

The illegitimacy of the preconditions put forward by the Ethiopian Election Board concerning the Sidama referendum were established beyond any shadow of doubt. The most respected constitutional lawyers painstakingly elaborated on various occasions why such preconditions were illegal.

Nevertheless, the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) which appears to operate outside of the realm of the constitution of FDRE, insists that the preconditions should be fulfilled by a revised date of 30 September 2019 EC.

1) A legal or an administrative document be prepared on the status of the city of Hawassa;
2) A legal and administrative document be prepared to safeguard the rights of individuals of non-Sidama ethnic background living in Sidama, and
3) A by law be prepared governing how assets can be shared between the Sidama Region and the old region up on divorce

A reverse authority? A constitutional mandate to conduct a referendum to establish a new regional state is a purview of the Regional State in which the nation or people demanding to create their own region reside, in the case of Sidama, the SNNPRS. The NEBE conducts the referendum as instructed supposedly by the administration of the SNNPRS. A letter sent to the NEBE refers.

The Ethiopian Electoral Law both the old and the new, approved in August 2019 reiterate in article 11 (2) The Board, on the instruction of the body authorising the referendum, shall hold the referendum by organizing the polling stations in a manner conveinient to execute the referendum. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Our question to the NEBE is this. Where does your authority to instruct the SNNPRS and the Sidama administration originate? Which law empowers the NEBE to instruct state organs empowered by the constitution to organize the referendum to formulate laws which have nothing or very little to do with their mandates?

What we have been hearing in the past two days point either to a wilful negligence or a conspiracy?

The Sidama administration confirmed on media that it will never develop a law on the status of Hawassa nor on the rights of individuals of other ethnic groups living in Sidama. The rights of the latter are already guaranteed in the constitution of the FDRE. No additional laws can and will be developed.

Hawassa has been the capital of Sidama since 1978 GC. It is a Sidama land without any spatial connection to the rest of SNNPRS. Thus once Sidama establishes its own regional state, Hawassa will be automatically spatially disconnected from the rest of the SNNPRS. The SNNPRS will therefore be forced to relocate. The discussion is not if the SNNPRS will leave Hawassa but when. The Somali Region can not choose to adopt Nazereth as its capital. It is as simple as that.

The timing of the departure of the SNNPRS from Hswassa and the sharing of assets are matters that can be discussed up on the conclusion of the referendum.

The Sidama administration, if there is one, should communicate in writing to the NEBE that those laws will not only be required to conduct the Sidama referendum but demanding by the NEBE to prepare them is unconstitutional.

Failing these implies a grand conspiracy by willing actors at all levels reminiscent of the July 11 2012 EC tragedy.

By: Dr Wolassa Lawisso