The Procedure for the Creation of New Regional States under the FDRE Constitution: Some Overlooked Issues

Author:Tessema Simachew Belay - Habtamu Simachew Belay
Position:Tessema Simachew Belay (LL.B., LL.M., Ph.D), Assistant Professor, Bahir Dar University, School of Law. Email: tessim43@gmail.com - Habtamu Simachew Belay (LL.B., LL.M., LL.M., Ph.D.), Assistant Professor, Wollo University, School of Law. Email: habtesim@yahoo.com We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful and valuable...
Pages:91-122
SUMMARY

The Ethiopian Federation which was created by the 1995 Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) Constitution had nine member states and one city administration. Apart from the creation of Dire Dawa as a city administration, no new state has been introduced in the Ethiopian federation since the adoption of the Constitution. However, several ethnic-based Zonal administrations in the country‟s ... (see full summary)

 
FREE EXCERPT
91
The Procedure for the Creation of New
Regional States under the FDRE
Constitution: Some Overlooked Issues
Tessema Simachew Belay and Habtamu Simachew Belay **
Abstract
The Ethiopian Federation which was created by the 1995 Federal Democratic
Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) Constitution had nine member states and one city
administration. Apart from the creation of Dire Dawa as a city administration, no
new state has been introduced in the Ethiopian federation since the adoption of the
Constitution. However, several ethnic-based Zonal administrations in the country’s
Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples (SNNP) region are now demanding to
form their own regional states. Apparently, the demands are justified under Article
47(2) of the 1995 Ethiopian constitution which follows a purely ethnic-centered
approach by giving “each nation, nationality and people” living in the nine States of
the federation “the right to establish their own States at any time.” However, since
this right has so far never been exercised in practice, the new demands are creating
anxiety in some quarters and drawing a growing attention to the constitutional
procedure for the creation of new states. This article aims to critically examine the
relevant constitutional provisions dealing with the issue of creation of new states.
Drawing insights from some other federations, we argue that the ethnic-centered
approach taken under the FDRE Constitution for the creation of new states
overlooks several important issues such as economic viability, administrative
efficiency, equity, sustainable peace, and resilience of the federal system.
Key terms:
Creation of new states · Ethnic federalism · Self-determination · Nation,
Nationality or People (NNP)
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.4314/mlr.v13i1.4
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-
NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)
Tessema Simachew Belay (LL.B., LL.M., Ph.D), Assistant Professor, Bahir Dar
University, School of Law. Email: tessim43@gmail.com
** Habtamu Simachew Belay (LL.B., LL.M., LL.M., Ph.D.), Assistant Professor, Wollo
University, School of Law. Email: habtesim@yahoo.com
We are grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their insightful and valuable comments
on the draft article. All errors remain ours.
92 MIZAN LAW REVIEW, Vol. 13, No.1 September 2019
Introduction
Federations have constituent units with substantial legislative, executive and
judicial power. The numbers of these component units, however, vary from one
federation to the other and are not necessarily proportional to the landmass or
the population size of the country. For example, India, a Federation of more
than 1 billion people, has 29 states and seven union territories1, while
Switzerland, a country of about 8 million people, has 26 cantons. The United
States has 50 states (plus two federacies), three local home-rule territories and
three unincorporated territories; Australia has six states (plus four administered
territories, three territories and one capital territory; Canada has ten provinces
(plus two territories); Malaysia has 13 states, and Nigeria has 36 states.2
Some federations have shown relative stability in the number of their
constituent units. For example, apart from the creation of Jura as a separate
canton in 1979, the number of cantons in Switzerland remained stable since
1848.3 By contrast, the territorial boundaries of other federations have gone
through frequent changes. For example, a series of state creation exercises in
Nigeria and India brought about numerous new states. Beginning with three
regions prior to the Nigerian Civil War (1966-70), the Nigerian Federation grew
to 36 states by 1996.4 India, on its part, which was reorganized in 1956 into 13
states5 has now 29 states.6
The Ethiopian Federation which was created by its 1995 constitution had
nine member states7 and one city administration.8 Apart from the creation of
Frequently used acronyms:
FDRE
NNP
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Nations, Nationalities and Peoples
SNNP
Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples
1 <http://www.india.gov.in/india-glance/profile> [Last accessed on July 19, 2019].
2 See R.A. Akindele (2001), „Nigeria in the Global Market of Experiments in Federalism,’
in J.I. Elaigwu and R.A. Akindele (eds.) Foundations o f Nigerian Feder alism. 1960-1995,
National Council on Intergovernmental Relations, Abuja, at p. 13.
3 See T.K. Reuter (2016), “The Right to Self-Determination of Ethnic Groups: The Canton
of Jura in Switzerland”, Interna tional Journa l on Minority and Group Rights, Vol. 23 No.
2, p. 260.
4 See Adewale Stephen Adeniyi (2004), “Quest for State’s Creation in Nigeria: an Harbinger
of Development or Underdevelopment?”, J ournal of Culture, Society a nd Development,
Vol.4, at p. 68.
5 See The States Reorganisation Act, 1956, Section 12.
6 Supra note 1.
7 See the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 1995, F ederal
Negarit Ga zeta, Pr oc. No. 1/1995, No.1, 1st year 1995 (Hereinafter: FDRE Constitution),
Article 47(1).
The Procedure for the Creation of New Regional States under the FDRE Constitution 93
Dire Dawa as a city administration which is accountable to the Federal
Government by a Federal proclamation9, in the more than two decades of the
Constitution’s existence, no new regional state has been introduced in the
Ethiopian federation. This might be surprising considering the Constitution’s
clear declaration that each nation, nationality and people has the right to form its
own state.10
However, it appears that the relative stability the federation has witnessed so
far in terms of the number of its member states is likely to change soon. Several
ethnic-based Zonal administrations in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and
Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) are now demanding to form their own regional
states.11 Against this background, this article aims to critically examine the
constitutional procedure for the creation of new states in Ethiopia.
Before delving into the details of the constitutional procedure for the creation
of new states, the first section of this article deals with the FDRE Constitution’s
general orientation that conceives Ethiopia as a consent-based marriage of its
diverse ethnic groups. It is argued that this ethnic-centered orientation is what
shapes and informs the main features of the Ethiopian federalism, including the
procedure for state creation. The second section of the article presents and
analyzes the constitutional procedure for the creation of new states as enshrined
in Article 47 of the Constitution as one of the aspects of the ethnic-centered
8 Accord ing to Article 49(2) of the FDRE Constitution “[r]esidents of Addis Ababa shall
have a full measure of self-government.” Sub-article 3 of the same provision further states
that “[t]he Administration o f Addis Ababa shall be responsible to the Federal
Government.”
9 The recognition of Dire Dawa as a city accountable to the Federal Government was a
temporary arrangement until such a time that the then claims of the Somalia and Oro mia
regions would finall y be resol ved.See the P reamble of Dire Dawa Ad ministration Charter
Proclamation, 2004, F ederal Negarit Ga zeta, Proc. No. 416/2004, 10th year, No. 60, 2004.
Since the FDRE Constitution did not as such talk about any city accountable to t he Federal
government other than Addis Ababa, some writers rightly note that the Dir eDawa situation
can be characterized as an instance of “constitutional amendment by legislation.” See
Nigussie Afesha (20 16), “The Practice of Infor mal Changes to the Ethiopian Constitution
in the Course of Application”, Mizan Law Review, Vol. 10, No. 2, at p. 387.
10 See Article 47(2) of FDRE Constitution.
11 “Demands for Regional Status Rock Ethiopia’s South Region”, 7Dnews,
https://7dnews.com/news/deamds-forregional-status-rock-ethiopia-s-south -region[last
accessed on March 27, 2019]; Brook Abdu, Sidama’s Quest for Statehood, The Reporter,
10 November 2018, https://www.thereporterethiopia.com/article/sidamas -quest-
statehood[last accessed on March 27, 2019]. Sidama’s quest for regional statehood is in
particular at advanced stage as a date for referendum is already fixed for November 13,
2019. https://www.africanews.com/2019/08/29/ethiopia-slates-november-13-for-sidama-
autonomy-referendum//.

To continue reading

REQUEST YOUR TRIAL