Finfinnee is NOT under Federal Jurisdiction by Tsegaye Ararsa



Finfinnee is NOT under Federal Jurisdiction

Some people argue that Finfinnee is a federal territory because the constitution hasn’t explicitly said that it is under the jurisdiction of Oromia . They also claim that because Ethiopia was a unitary state before resorting to Federalism, the city had become a federal territory then.

My quick response is the following:

  1. The fact that the constitution does not explicitly say that Finfinnee is under the jurisdiction of Oromia does not imply that it is not, or that it has become under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Government as a result. The constitution doesn’t say Mekelle is under Tigray, or BahrDar is under Amhara, either. So, does that make Mekelle or BahrDar a federal territory or make them otherwise fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government? It doesn’t. And it hasn’t. Why does it then make Finfinnee do otherwise?

  2. Yes, Ethiopia’s federalism was formed by a mixed process of devolution (1991) and aggregation (1995). Yes, Ethiopia had a unitary system before the federation. That does not make the (regional) State territories automatically Federal territories, especially when you know the inaugural violence meted out to wield Ethiopia into a state and how the constitutional arrangements since (1931, 1955, 1987) have only reenacted and perpetuated the inaugural violence throughout.

  3. The 1991 moment and the constitutional moment of 1994/5 (as seen in the preamble) are also projected as a moment of undoing that unitary past on the basis of the organizing principle that underpinned the constitution, i.e., self-determination. Evidently, that principle was directed at dismantling the infrastructure of (semi-colonial) oppression, domination, and wanton exploitation. Of course this illegible to Ethiopianist eyes for obvious reasons.

  4. Finally, and most importantly, their argument too often misses the fact that the Ethiopian government does not have its own territory that is automatically and directly under its jurisdiction (without being mediated by the States). This is bluntly stated in art 2 of the constitution as follows: THE TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION OF ETHIOPIA SHALL COMPRISE THE TERRITORY OF THE MEMBERS OF THE FEDERATION and…" This is further corroborated by art 8, according to which original (as distinguished from derivative) sovereignty rests with the “nations, nationalities, and peoples” rather than the federal government. The consequence is that the city is constitutionally within the jurisdiction of Oromia until it is explicitly designated as a “federal capital territory” via negotiation and subsequent referendum on the matter.

All other juvenile (sophomoric to be precise) reading of the constitution and the conclusion drawn therefrom to excise the city from Oromia’s jurisdiction is simply nonsense. I beg to be spared that nonsense.