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Hayalnesh Gezahegn

Addis Abeba, March 09/2019 – Office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed released statement announcing the formation of a committee of eight individuals to work to bring in suggestions and recommendations to help to “sustainably resolve” the boundary administrative dispute between Addis Abeba City Administration and the Oromia regional state.

The statement said that despite recommendations presented by a previous ad hoc committee drawn from both the city and the regional administrations, which was tasked specifically to solve the boundary administrative dispute, the issue remained unsolved and has become a source of growing tension.

The eight members of the committee are: Muferiat Kamil, Minister of Peace from the federal government; From Addis Abeba City Administration: Takele Uma, deputy Mayor of Addis Abeba, and two of his deputies: Endawek Abate and Dr. Solomon Kidane, social and economic cluster coordinators respectively; as well as Tesfaye Beljige, public coordination advisor to the deputy mayor.

From the Oromia regional state, the committee included: Tayiba Hassen, Deputy president of the Oromia regional state, and Ahmed Tusa, Oromia regional state urban development cluster coordinator with a ministerial rank, as well as Dr. Girma Amente, Oromia regional state rural development cluster head with ministerial rank.

This follows two days of region-wide demonstrations in Oromia regional state protesting Addis Abeba city administration’s decision to hand over thousands of condominium units built by Addis Ababa City Administration Savings & Houses Development Enterprise (AASHDE). The specific flashpoint of the protests are condominiums located in Koye Feche site one and two, which the regional state said were located “deep” into the administrative zone of the region which was established in 2008 and is called Oromia Regional State Special Zone Surrounding Finfinne. The special zone was formed to handle the fast expansion of Addis Abeba city into Oromia region in the absence of a legal framework to regular matters such as land grabbing, which is blamed for the displacement of thousands of farmers particularly since 2005.

The dispute further escalated when the Oromia regional state government issued a statement rejecting the city’s decision to hand over the condominiums. The statement called to freeze distribution of the condos until after the administrative boundary issue between the region and the city were addressed.

The statement from the PM’s office said that it is important to solve the dispute based on previous researches and public discussions. It added a “direction” has been established for the eight committee members to present recommendations on ways of addressing the dispute in a lasting and sustainable manner.

The administrative boundary dispute between Addis Abeba and Oromia regional state, which surrounds the city, has been a thorn in the flesh of the EPRDF led government in the past several years.

The City’s 2013 Master Plan to expand Addis Abeba’s territory into the surrounding cities and towns within Oromia regional state had ignited years of sustained anti-government protests in Oromia, which led to the eventual resignation of former PM Hailemariam Desalegn and the coming of Abiy as his successor. AS

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