Thursday, December 20, 2018

Ethiopia approves boundary commission to resolve disputes

Kalkidan Yibeltal, BBC Amharic, Addis Ababa

Ethiopia’s parliament has approved a controversial bill that allows Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to set up a commission to resolve conflicts triggered by identity and border disputes between regional administrations.

The bill was fiercely resisted by some members of the parliament, who declared it unconstitutional. It was eventually approved with a majority vote.

More than 1.4 million people are currently displaced as a result of ethnic conflicts within the country.

The new Identity and Boundary Issues Commission will be tasked with studying the causes of such conflicts and providing solutions to lawmakers.

Most of the opposition to its establishment came from MPs representing the Tigrayan region in the northern part of the country, where the optimism that follows Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reform measures is weaker than elsewhere in the country.

Currently, ethnic disputes and identity questions are expected to be resolved by the lower house of parliament, which renders the commission irrelevant, the dissenting MPs argued.

The formation of the commission might widen the rift between the new administration and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front party, a member of the ruling coalition.