People Need to be Heard

People Need to be Heard
People Need to be Heard

Ethiopian News, Dec. 14, 2015

Editorial, Addis Fortune

Student protests around Oromia dominated the headlines of mainstream and social media in Ethiopia over the past two weeks. The protests, largely involving students of higher education institutions and secondary schools, seem to oppose implementation of an integrated master plan between Addis Abeba and the surrounding special zones of Oromia, that has been on the drawing board for over four years now.

In response to their demands, protestors often met with the unrestrained powers of law enforcement. But the  demands go beyond the issue of the master plan; they include strict adherence to the Constitution, respect for identity, effective self-administration and regulatory clarity.

This is not the first time that there have been protests against the master plan. A year ago, the first round of protests took lives and damaged property. And that was perceived to be the end of it, as the Revolutionary Democrats expressed their will to give ear to the legitimate concerns of the protestors.

Give ear, they did. Regional and federal government officials went around the region to discuss the issue with the communities concerned. Top of the agenda was to bridge the gulf between the state and the community and restore mutual trust.

A second round of protests on the same issue, however, means that the convincing act of the EPRDFites was not as persuasive as it needed to be. It may also mean that the demands of the public have not yet been met. Either way, much remains to be said and done by the ruling elite.

Essentially, the instigation is coming from a development plan meant to harmonize the growth of the capital, Addis Abeba, with that of its surrounding localities. Even if Addis is a chartered city, with its own administrative structure, it also serves as the seat of Oromia’s government. But the two stakes are not guided by clearly defined laws of benefits. This, of course, is despite a constitutional promise that leaves the detail to further laws.

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