By Abb. Abiy A Ashenafi
Before going to the PM’s statement and my remarks, let me briefly sketch the general context of the matter.
The Federal Constitution of Ethiopia establishes 9 regional states. Ethnic groups which do not have their own states are economically and politically marginalized. In the present dispensation, power and resources are allocated along ethnic lines. Given that most members of the Federation are determined to maintain this, any attempt to reverse it does not seem possible in the foreseeable future.
The Constitution recognizes ethnic groups’ right to set-up their own states. However, although establishing their own states gives them more rights, any move to initiate this demand had been systematically suppressed until the coming to power of Abiy Ahmed. After Abiy’s appointment as Prime Minister a year ago, he put an end to the longstanding repression of human rights in the Country. Following the liberalization, activists mounted pressures on Zonal Councils to invoke the constitutional right of self-determination and to demand statehood. About a dozen of Zonal Councils in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) unanimously decided to establish their own states. However, the SNNPR has not taken concrete steps to respond to their demands. Peaceful rallies were made in Hawasa and Wolaita Sodo, urging SNNPR to facilitate referendums timousely. Similar rallies are planned in Hadiya.
The Prime Minister’s response
While responding to a question posed by a member of the House of Peoples’ Representatives, he said:
- that peoples which demanded to establish their own states must be patient until the SNNPR, after examining the issues, notifies the final result; and until the National Election Board (The Board) notifies that it is ready [to conduct the referendum].
- these peoples shouldn’t only demand their rights, but they must also convince the SNNPR; and
He warned that if they do not abide by this, they will face the same thing that happened in Somali region. By that, he meant the intervention of the federal government, removal of leaders and appointment of individuals more loyal to the Federal government. Furthermore, he hinted about amending article 46 of the Constitution, which deals with the delimitation of states.
I now turn to responding to his statement.
Time and patience:
According to article 47(2) of the Federal Constitution, ethnic groups have ‘the right to establish, at any time, their own states’.The procedure for statehood requires the State Council to organize referendum within ONE YEAR since receiving the demand for statehood.
We have made it clear that we want to establish our state no latter than one year since this demand was received by the SNNP State Council. Yet, no clear action has been taken by the Council to hold referendum within the prescribed time.
The reason is nothing but a lack of political will to enforce the provisions of the Constitution. So, I ask, why and until when should we be patient while the Council is dragging its heels?
Convincing the SNNP State Council:
There is simply no such requirement in the Constitution. The role of the State Council is limited to facilitating the establishment of the new states by organizing referendum. It has no power to dictate how we are supposed to establish our state. Being the holders of an unconditional right to self-determination, we have no duty to convince the SNNPR.
Until the Election Board is ready:
As the PM said, the Board now has a new Chairwoman, a deputy and all members. It is staffed with professionals, and it has been allocated more budget than ever. So there is no excuse for delay.
The threat etc:
The people have waited patiently. Even at times of crisis, they have proved that they are law abiding. Therefore, there is no legal ground for the Federal Government’s intervention etc. The threatening and disparaging manner in which the PM spoke are offending, and must not be repeated.
Abb. Abiy A Ashenafi is a LLD candidate at the University of Pretoria
4 thoughts on “Some Remarks on PM Abiy’s Report to the House of PR (pertaining to statehood)”
Very good news because of our people still with life we get to selabrate for this chance i want thanks profeser beyene petrose
Thank you Berhanu
You people are not real Hadiya, you are Sidama who lived under Hadiya Sultanate. The real Hadiya are the Muslims who ruled the sultanate, namely the Halaba, Qabena etc. Maybe you should fix your names before calling for a state, if you’re not Muslim you are not Hadiya in its true essence.
I appreciate your remarks on our website. You have brought up a very interesting point worth discussing.
To me, the truth is never a scary thing. I would not be devastated if I found out today, with a good evidence, that we are not the descendants of the ancient Hadiya Sultanate.
Please provide your sources, evidences, etc.. to help me see what you state.
I am not a historian, but I have done some amount of reading on the ancient history of our people. I hope you are willing to have a positive discussion on this issue since I remain open and curious.
Couple of things I want caution you against at the outset are: The current predominant faith of each nation, Haidya, Halaba, Qabeena, Silte, (and some that are totally assimilated into the Oromo) should not be thought of as continuation of the ancient Hadiya Sultanate’s Islamic faith. Scholarly Anthropological research has concluded that these communities belonged to the same Islamic kingdom (as slightly heterogeneous people especially linguistically – Semitic/Kushitic), then they were disbursed and separated from one another due to external pressures/conquests from the Ethiopian Empire and others.
Most were also removed from their Islamic faith and were assimilated into other religions or into the traditional ones. It was centuries later (in the 19th century) that Qabeena, Halaba, Silte, and currently Oromo-ized Hadiya who RENEWED their ancestral Islamic faith. The Islamic missionaries from other parts of the country were to be credited, at least partly. It makes a good sense for that faith is part of the Hadiya heritage. I always tell young people that our heritage is Islamic despite the dominance of Christianity in the current Hadiyaland. There is nothing wrong with being proud of your heritage regardless of your current faith.
Another thing I would note to you also is the fact that the oral traditions of each of the above groups say the same thing according to the Anthropological study I will mention below. They all claim their origin somehow to Arabian peninsula, they all claim to have descended from Hadiya either as single person progenitor ancestor, ethnic group, nation, or kingdom (or some or all of the above)
I have many sources that I can point our to you. For now, let me give you a couple. Have you read a book called History of the Hadiyya in Southern Ethiopia by Ulrich Braukamper? The late German professor lived in the midst of Hadiya, Qabeena, Halaba, Oromo (among the descendants of ancient Hadiya), Silte, etc… for 4 full years. Then he made more short trips to Ethiopia later. He has done the most complete, robust, thorough, and deep research on Hadiya. There is no other researcher that focused on the Hadiya people and the ancient kingdom as much as he did. It is on Amazon, but let me know if you want to read the book from other sources.
Braukamper also has extensive writings on the Islamic history of the Northeast Africa and elsewhere in Africa. I have a copy of a book called Fandaanano: : The Traditional Socio-Religious System of the Hadiyya in Southern Ethiopia? He shows that the now-extinct Hadiya religion in the current Hadiya area mixed Islamic practices of its ancient Hadiya Sultanate with the traditional ones. And that includes fasting Ramadan.
I love discussions like this. I enjoy them. Feel free to let me know of the sources you used to get to the conclusion you mentioned.
Also, I am a person behind hadiyajourney.com website where you can find much about the Hadiya people – past and present.