Ethiopia: News - Supreme Court Sustains the Right of Hararis Outside the Region to Vote for Harari National Assembly Members

An Ethiopian flag marks a polling booth in Hawassa (file image).

Addis Abeba — The Federal Supreme Court rejected a recent decision by the National Electroral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) to disallow Hararis living outside the Harari Regional State to vote for National Assembly members, a practice the Harari community enjoyed during the last five five general elections.

In its ruling today, the Supreme Court sustained the plea from the Harari National Assembly disputing the decision by the NEBE to disallow the voting.

The Harari Regional legislature is made up of two chambers: the first, Harari National Assembly (HNA), is a 14-member council made up of Hararis, voted in by Hararis; and the second, Harari Peoples Representative Assembly (HPRA), is a 22-member council open to all. "The HNA's powers are limited to issues associated with protecting the identity of Hararis in areas of language, culture and history. It should be noted, voting rights for Hararis living outside of the Harari region are extended only to the HNA," the Harari Council of Ontario said in protest against the electoral board's decision.

NEBE said its has decided against the voting practice because the constitution does not state that a minority ethnic group shall elect regional representatives while living outside of their regions to the level of its findings. The board also added that it couldn't find a decree in the constitution that makes an exception for Harari people to carry out the practice. The board argued that allowing this practice for Harari people but denying it to other minority ethnic groups would cast doubts on its fairness and impartiality. The board questioned the authenticity of documents that shows a decision made by the HoPR back in 1995 to allow Harari community to elect their representatives while living outside of the region.

Mohiuddin Ahmed, speaker of the Harari National Congress, argued that the decision by the NEBE violated a decision passed by the HoPR during the transitional government in 1995. He also cited Article 50 of the

Harari Regional State constitution, which allows members of the Harari National Congress to be elected by members of the Harari community living in and outside the region.

At the Superme Court, the Board argued that the decision needed to be made by the House of Federation (HoF) and not by the Court. However, the Court ruled in favor of the Harari National Assembly. AS

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