by Bileh Jelan
Addis Abeba, December 23/2019 – In a letter written and signed by Mustefa Muhmud Omer, vice president of Somali regional state, and was addressed to the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and House of Federations (HoF) on December 10/2019, the regional state asked for equitable representation of parliamentary seats at the national parliament, House of People’s Representatives (HoPR).
In the letter, the vice president stated that based on the 1994 population and housing census of Ethiopia, which put the Somali population at 3, 198, 514, the regional state should have been represented by 32 seats at HoPR. However, nine seats were reduced and the region is now represented by a mere 23 seats. Therefore, the regional state requested for appropriate measures to be taken in order to make sure the Somali people get their “constitutionally guaranteed equitable representation” at the national parliament during the upcoming election in 2020.
Mohammed Olad, media & communication advisor of vice president Mustefa, told Addis Standard that the current arrangement didn’t follow the guidelines set by the constitution, and argued that the regional state’s request for new arrangement was a “constitutional request.” According to him, the issue was a long standing point of discussion in the regional council & among the wider Somali population. The Somali Regional State’s 23 seats in the HoPR is on bar with Addis Abeba and 15 seats less than the 38 seats allocated for Tigray Regional State while Somali region is more populous than both Addis Abeba and Tigray Regional State, Mohammed argued.
“We hope this will help address in some ways, the acute under-representation of Somalis in the House of People’s Representatives and to some extent, the federal bureaucracy,” he said, adding that in the past, despite repeated attempts, “no one dared or bothered to address this constitutional abrogation. For most part of the last three decades, the region was run by successive clientele administrations.”
The federal parliament has 547 seats currently all occupied by the ruling EPRDF and its allied parties including Somali Democratic Party (SDP). The EPRDF is now in the process of being renamed “Prosperity Party” and includes SDP.
“This is solely an independent initiative taken up by the Somali Regional administration based on our constitutional mandate, and on behalf of the Somali people, to advocate and look after their interest, Mohammed said, “however, we will not be surprised if other regions and communities raise similar constitutional demands that are always inevitable, regardless of whether our current efforts inspired them.” AS