Ethiopia: Controversial Commission Gets Commissioner, Deputy

The House of Peoples' Representatives (HPR) has approved the appointment of a commissioner and deputy commissioner to the recently established commission, the Administrative Boundary and Re conciliatory Commission.

Tassew Gebre (PhD) and Ustaz Abubeker were named as commissioner and deputy commissioner of the Identity and Boundary Commission, respectively. Their appointment has come five months after approving the controversial draft bill to establish the commission, and four months after the naming of the members of the commission. MPs approved on Thursday a commissioner proposed by the Prime Minister.

Accordingly, Tassew was voted in by a majority as commissioner of identity and boundary commission with 25 "nay" votes in the House.

Ustaz Abubeker, who has served in the Ethiopian Muslim Council and was thrown in jail for years because of his stance in the affairs of Ethiopian Muslims along with his colleagues, was appointed as deputy commissioner. Not much is known about the new commissioner, Tassew Gebre, except that he was the president of Wachemo University, located in Hosanna, in the Southern Regional State.

In January 2019, the Ethiopian Parliament approved 41 members to the commission. The late Negasso Gidada, the first president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, was one of the members of the commission. PM Abiy Ahmed's (PhD) administration has not yet disclosed who will fill the vacant position.

Sixteen members of the Ethiopian parliament voted "nay" when members of the boundary and identity commission were named back in January 2019.

The Commission is tasked with resolving boundary and identity questions in "a peaceful, durable and impartial way," but has been controversial since its introduction in the parliament. The regional state of Tigray and many of Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) leaders, who are in charge of the regional state, have been vocal critics of the establishment of the Identity and Boundary Commission, for they saw it as a "violation of the constitution."

In the same session, the House also indorsed the appointments of Cardinal Berhaneyesus Suraphel and Yetnebersh Nigussie as commissioner and deputy commissioner of the Reconciliation Commission, respectively, in a majority vote with four against and 10 abstaining.

The proclamation for the establishment of Reconciliation Commission was approved by the House in December, 2018.

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