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Category Archives: Federalism

Federalism and Interstate River Water Governance in India – Observer Research Foundation

Posted: January 17, 2021 at 9:12 am

Set up in 1990, ORF seeks to lead and aid policy thinking towards building a strong and prosperous India in a fair and equitable world. It helps discover and inform Indias choices, and carries Indian voices and ideas to forums shaping global debates. ORF provides non-partisan, independent analyses and inputs on matters of security, strategy, economy, development, energy, resources and global governance to diverse decision-makers (governments, business communities, academia, civil society). ORFs mandate is to conduct in-depth research, provide inclusive platforms and invest in tomorrows thought leaders today.

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Federalism is the answer, after all – Part 12 – Guardian

Posted: at 9:12 am

Events unfolding in the twilight of Donald J. Trumps presidency, especially the triumph of strong institutions against the Capitol Hill insurrection, have again reinforced our position on true federalism. Whereas politics and shenanigans are global, in federalism abounds the steering wheel-power for democrats to explore institutions to whip an intransigent personality into general-will and create a system that works for all. Clearly, the American democratic bragging right has been demystified, but their faith and commitment to organic federating units, attendant independent judiciary, credible legislature and press freedom have not been misplaced for Nigeria to learn from.

Nigeria borrowed quite a lot from the U.S. when it switched from the parliamentary to presidential system of government. At becoming a Republic in 1963, Nigeria technically switched from unitary to federalism. But it was a symbolic federalism that was not meant to be in substance. Nigeria has indeed practised quasi-federalism, which has concentrated all the powers at the centre and bred strong personalities over governing institutions. So, when the U.S. Congress erupted in Trump-instigated violence the other day, Nigerians back home could readily relate with the event that was all-too-familiar with the Nigerian political experience. What Nigerians hardly see in their own clime was how the American institutions rose to the occasion to salvage their democracy.

Indeed, Trump is not any different from average Nigerian politicians that would arm-twist the entire system for personal gains. Since the November presidential election ended, Trump has been sulking over unsubstantiated stolen elections to mask his defeat at the polls. He had made frantic efforts to cancel the result like few power brokers did with the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election that Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola won in Nigeria. Trump has been up to all sorts of peccadilloes that are not presidential and un-American at the same time. Having failed in court, he incited American mob to stampede the Capitol the meeting place of the United States Congress and the home of the legislative branch of the American government to forcefully ditch the confirmation of Joe Biden as the 46th American president ahead of the January 20 inauguration. The TV footage showing a Trump supporter lounging in the Speakers chair at the Capitol made American democracy a laughing stock of the world.

But the stronger institution, however imperfect, rallied back remarkably to save American blushes and her place as the bastion of democracy in the world. Despite Trumps ugly legacies, unquestionable is the importance of strong democratic institutions, federal constitution and conscious citizenry and Nigeria should learn critical lessons here. Within hours of the Capitol Hill invasion, the police were deployed to restore order in line with the constitution. Unlike the scenes in this clime, police are not a weapon and law unto themselves. We did not see the deployment of maximum force by the police, nor did we see opposition figures being arrested over trumped-up charges. The security agencies have clear roles in the constitution and within their jurisdictions. They are also defenders of democratic rights but do not have to rely on Washington D.C, irrespective of who the occupant is, to take orders like Nigerian Police depends on Aso Villa and ultimately the sitting president. The Nigerian system has consistently made mockery of federalism without regional and state police. Meanwhile, it is the same system that would order with impunity maximum force against unarmed #EndSARS protesters. It is one of such abuses that have described Nigeria as having one of the most powerful presidents in the world in a democracy where power should reside with the people, not strong men and opportunists in democratic garb.

In the American experience, we also saw that the vice president is not a yes-man even over what constitutes a major personal loss. Trump had surprisingly urged the Vice President, Mike Pence, to block electoral votes. Mike Pence, I hope youre going to stand up for the good of our constitution, and the good of our country. And if youre not, Im going to be very disappointed in you, I will tell you right now. Pence still presided over the ceremony in which his electoral loss was certified, according to normal constitutional guidelines. He did so despite immense pressure from the president, misinformed citizens, and conspiracy theorists to deny the truth. Such are the gains of a true federalism that clearly states the functions of officeholders and not leave them at the whims of the Commander-in-Chief.

Similarly, the legislative arm of government, where lawmakers are not rubber stamps, has again shown that it can and should save the day from tyranny and clueless leadership running the country to the brink. In this case of reference, the legislators, independent judiciary and media stood up to be counted. Most U.S. legislators accepted the result of the Electoral College vote, and most Republican members of Congress also admitted that Americans made their decision, and accepted it. All through this phase, the courts remained independent. Leading up to the election, the state of Texas and the Trump legal team had attempted to invalidate the votes of tens of millions of Americans in four states where Trump lost Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Wisconsin by suing the states at the Supreme Court, but the court struck the case down citing a lack of legal standing for Texas to sue other states over their local election laws. Indeed, the judgment reiterated the importance of American federalism, and the independence of states. This is remarkable, especially given that three of the nine judges on the nations highest court were appointed by Trump. Unlike in our case where the presidency had in 2019 curiously removed Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen, then Chief Justice of Nigeria from office through an Administrative Tribunal headed by a non-judicial officer, the U.S. system constitutionally authorised justices to retain Supreme Court positions for life, to deepen their independence and uphold democratic ideals. That was federalism and constitutionalism in action.

What is more remarkable, the media in the U.S. system is constitutionally allowed to do its job as the Fourth Estate of the Realm. Unlike in Nigeria, where the Federal Government could impose fines on media houses for reporting the states violent crackdown on #EndSARS protesters in October 2020, the U.S. government generally respected journalists right to cover the riots objectively. More so, at no time did the U.S. disrupt the Internet connectivity. Instead, citizens access to social media was preserved as some legislators even leveraged platforms to confirm their safety on that dark Wednesday at the Capitol Hill.

In contrast to the norm around here, social media high-tech companies have been exercising their duty to the state by blocking their sitting president from further inciting followers via caustic messages. That is what makes democracy the best system of government despite its flaws. It is also what makes true federalism and constitutionalism the best bet in a diverse democracy aiming at truth, justice, fairness, peace and progress. Nigeria cannot afford to be an exception.

Lest we forget, what would have happened to the Georgia electoral votes if the Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger,who the president had reportedly called to find 11,000 votes at all cost, was answerable to even an appointee of the President of the United States? There was no connection between the Secretary of State and the U.S. Election Commission, a central body. The power of the Georgias Secretary of State over even a presidential election outcome is as given only by the constitution of the state as a federating unit. And the powerful president of the United States cannot arbitrarily do anything to alter the sanctity of that provision to remain in office. In Nigeria, even a Federal High Court in any jurisdiction in the country could have given a ruling to annul a free and fair election to favour a high-profile office holder. This is part of the travesty and travail of federalism in Africas most populous nation.

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The Blessings (and Curses) of Federalism – The Wall Street Journal

Posted: January 9, 2021 at 3:39 pm

Recent weeks have provided a crash course on the advantages and disadvantages of federalism. In U.S. politics, the powers of local governments are delegations from the states, but the powers from the state arent delegated from the national government. Rather, they exist independently, as secured by the Constitution. The line between federal and state powers is sometimes contested, but in many matters its clear.

For example, the 15th Amendment gives the federal government the right to enforce the equal right of every citizen to vote, regardless of race or color. But other parts of the ConstitutionArticle I, Sec. 4 and Article II, Sec. 1assign states the principal role in determining the rules for electing the president as well as members of the House and Senate.

These constitutional realities were the crux of Sen. Tom Cottons refusal to join a dozen other Republican senators in challenging the results of the 2020 presidential election. The Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the statesnot Congress, Mr. Cotton said. They entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral Collegenot Congress. And they entrusted the adjudication of election disputes to the courtsnot Congress.

To be sure, the Electoral Count Act of 1877 provides Congress a mechanism for challenging slates of electors under certain conditions, but these conditions have not been met this year. No state has sent dueling slates of electors to Congress, and every state met the legal deadline for certifying its results.

If the Constitution had established a unitary system for administering presidential elections, the two months since this years election could have played out very differently. Rather than pressing governors, legislators, secretaries of state and state electoral commissions to alter their results, President Trump could have tried to suborn a single national institution, with better prospects for success.

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Grande: Federalism is the only answer – INFORUM

Posted: at 3:39 pm

The country is sharply divided on the presidential election and the certification of electors, so is Congress. Many in Congress (North Dakotas delegation included) said they could not protest the certification of presidential electors, that doing so would be unconstitutional. At least someone read the Constitution, we should be happy with that. But who knew we had so many strict constructionists in Congress?

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Members of Congress were inundated with letters and messages against this position. You cannot blame the voters confusion. Standing on the Constitution may have been better received if it wasnt so, so unusual in our capitol.

For years our representatives sat on their hands (and on their constitutional authority) allowing government agencies to interpret laws and make rules far beyond the intended scope of the statutes they passed. Federal agencies have exercised more and more power over our lives ignoring the authority of each state. We witnessed, time after time, a single federal judge make law for the entire country. EPA ruled that each time you and I exhale we are poisoning the environment. I could go on. Yet in each instance our strict constructionists said and did nothing.

Yes, Article XII is clear. Congress does not have the authority to override state certified electors. It is also true that the actions of one or more states can harm the citizens of other states. This was the point of the Texas lawsuit joined by North Dakota that was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case was not rejected on the merits, it was rejected because the Court said Texas lacked standing. Question, if the Constitution limits the authority of Congress over the electoral process and the court does not allow a dispute among the states to be heard, where do we go from there? This question will need to be answered for the sake of the republic.

Beyond that, the people of North Dakota should closely follow the constitutionalists in Washington. What will Congress do if (when) the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule comes back? How about when the Obama era methane rule is resurrected, and fracking is banned on federal land? Will the strict constructionists in Congress object when an agency asserts any amount of federal land in a spacing unit means that federal policies apply to the entire spacing unit? Not far-fetched, this was the position of the prior administration.

But, environmentalists argue, you cannot leave issues like fracking or methane regulation to each state because those issues affect people in other states. Interesting, that is exactly the issue Texas raised, that the election process in six other states impacted the people of Texas.

Federalism, recognizing the authority and autonomy of each state, is the only answer for our divided republic. And, the Constitution is not a convenience to be pulled out only when it suits.

Grande represented the 41st District in the N.D. Legislature from 1996 to 2014. She is CEO of the Roughrider Policy Center, an "innovation over regulation" think tank. She is a wife, mom, grandma, lover of life and Jesus. Opinions are solely her own.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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Threat to democracy and federalism – Greater Kashmir

Posted: at 3:39 pm

The BJP has conducted 25 webinars in the last week of December 2020 to propagate the idea of one nation, one election. This came in the background of Prime Minister Narendra Modi making one of his periodic pronouncements about the need for one nation, one election. The latest was at the 80th Presiding Officers Conference on November 26, which happened to be the Constitution Day.

The BJP webinars trotted out the now well-known arguments for the need for simultaneous elections of the Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections: that it will save a lot of expenditure; repeated elections bring the Model Code of Conduct into play which hampers development work and divert officials attention and so on.

In one of the webinars, Bhupendra Yadav, a general secretary of BJP, stated, Election is just a means in democracy, but repeated elections show that it has become the only objective of a democracy. Governance lags behind.

The underlining message is that too many elections are not good for democracy; more important is governance. This is in line with what the CEO of Niti Aayog, Amitabh Kant, said that there is too much democracy in India with regard to the farmers struggle. The message is as clear as daylight the call for one nation, one election is a logical extension of one nation, one leader and the leader has declared that this is not a matter of debate but a necessity for India.

The holding of elections at all levels together (some BJP leaders want the local body elections to be held also along with state and national elections) and the constitutional changes that will be required to bring it about will fundamentally change the character of parliamentary democracy and destroy federalism in the country. To hold the Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections together would require tampering with the constitutional scheme of accountability of the government to the legislature.

Under the Constitution, if a government is voted out on a no-confidence motion, or loses a vote on a Money Bill, it is bound to resign and if no alternative government can be formed, the House is dissolved and a mid-term election is held. There is no fixity of tenure enshrined in the Constitution either for the Lok Sabha, or, for the state Assemblies.

A set of proposals have been made by the Niti Aayog in its discussion paper in 2017 and the draft report of the Law Commission in 2018. They all amount to shortening of the tenure of some of the existing state Assemblies, or, extending the life of some, so that they can be synchronised with Lok Sabha elections, or, at least to hold only two sets of elections in a five-year period. Both, the reduction of the term of an Assembly, or, its extension are profoundly anti-democratic and violate the basic rights of citizens to elect their legislators.

To avoid mid-term dissolution of the House and consequent elections, fixity of tenure is prescribed. The implications of this are dangerous. In one of the proposals in the Niti Aayog paper, it is stated that if the dissolution of the Lok Sabha cannot be avoided and the remainder of the term of the Lok Sabha is not long, then a provision can be made for the President to carry out the administration of the country on the aid and advise of a Council of Ministers to be appointed by him/her till the next House is constituted.

This outrageous proposal would make the President head of the executive. This is bringing in an Executive President through the backdoor. The same approach is suggested for state Assemblies, where the governor can take over the administration for a short period.

Fixity of tenure would mean that a ruling party which has a stable majority in the House cannot recommend for dissolution of the House and hold early elections. It is also proposed by the Law Commission Report that if a no-confidence motion is moved in the Lok Sabha, it must be accompanied by a resolution naming the new leader to run the alternative government. This is termed as constructive vote of no confidence.

What this means is that even if a government is voted out by the members of the House, there has to be some alternative government, or, even a coalition government which is unrepresentative of the peoples choice. Primacy is given to stability through fixity of tenure and the electoral choice becomes irrelevant.

Centralised control of state legislatures and state governments will be established in such a system. After truncating the powers of dissolution in the event of a government losing its majority, the fixed time of five years would require the formation of an alternative government. Such a government would be dependent on the sole whim of the governor who can decide which leader to call upon to form a government. The fixed term will also be a license for legislators to switch sides wholesale without the fear of facing an election.

With governors like Jagdeep Dhankar, Bhagat Singh Koshyari and Arif Mohammad Khan, one can only imagine the havoc that would be created when they act as partisan instruments of the centre.

To bring about simultaneous elections to Parliament and state assemblies, there will have to be a major constitutional overhaul. There will have to be amendments to the Constitution in Article 83 (duration of House), Article 85 (dissolution of the Lok Sabha), Article 172 (duration of state legislatures), Article 174 (dissolution of state legislatures), Article 356 (failure of constitutional machinery) apart from amendments to the Representation of the People Act and other Rules.

The BJP has been consistently putting out the idea of one nation, one election since it appeared in its election manifesto in 2014. Both the President and Vice President of India have endorsed this concept in their official capacities. The current thrust and campaign of the BJP presages a serious effort in this direction. It will be a mistake to think that the constitutional amendments and changes to enable this would pose major obstacles to the ruling partys authoritarian drive. We have witnessed the constitutional chicanery which was indulged in to dismantle the state of Jammu & Kashmir.

Prakash Karat is Member, Polit Bureau of CPI (M).

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Federalism is the answer, after all – Part 11Opinion – Guardian

Posted: at 3:39 pm

The nation woke up yesterday to reports and photographs of a cross-section of police and special constabulary officers and their passing-out parade at the Police College in Lagos.

The authorities in Nigeria would like the people of Nigeria to accept their fact that the present administration has launched community policing in the country. This newspaper would like to reiterate its long-held view that what was launched on Tuesday is not what we have consistently advocated.

The governing party in their manifesto we have consistently quoted here promised restructuring and their document generated in fulfillment of this includes the state police, not community policing faade the federal police seems to be foisting on a docile federation without federalism.As we have repeatedly noted, the recurrent issue of federalism within the contextual discussion of restructuring has become a metaphor for the curious failure of state actors to do the right thing about nation-building at the right time.The issues that have been shaping and even triggering discussions on the much-needed federalism have been dominating political debates across the country.In fact, it is fast becoming a Frankensteins monster a thing that becomes terrifying or destructive to its maker.The governing party promised a qualified one they even called true federalism.They prepared the blueprint in January 2018 and told the nation publicly.

But sadly, execution the discipline of getting things done has been curiously elusive as both the president and the vice president have been speaking in tongues about the same public-interest issue called federalism.They have been conceptually divided about the crossroads they both hit on the volatile issue they cant eventually escape as state policing is an idea whose time has indeed come.

The reasons are again not too fat to seek. The current level of violence and insecurity in the country, calls for new thinking about our security policy and architecture. But the clincher in all this begins with federalism, a restructuring genre that will allow different regions to tackle insecurity and other concomitant challenges with their local policing arrangement. Kidnapping, marauding killer-herders in the Middle Belt, and perennial acts of brigandage in other parts of the country have made it imperative for us to go back to the drawing board and do things in a different and better way.

This newspaper believes that as a federation, as proclaimed in the 1999 Constitution, we ought to begin the process of creating different levels of policing in the country in consonance with the spirit of federalism.

By definition, the police force is expected to perform investigations, detection of crimes, and protection of the citizenry as routine duties.This onerous assignment makes them first line in the security apparatus of the country.They are legally in charge of internal security. And so, they are usually expected to be close to the environment where they maintain law and order and protect lives and property.Besides, the police officers and operatives need credibility, respectability, and acceptability in the community or town where they serve.

Sadly, the Nigeria Police as currently constituted is not near any of these ideals. The average policeman in the country is poorly remunerated, despised by the people, seen as friends of criminals, poorly armed, and very corrupt.The nation is still smarting from a devastating protest (#EndSARS) mounted by young Nigerians who could no longer endure their brutality. The police force hasnt recovered from the opprobrium the remarkable protest triggered for their image. Even the Nigerian soldiers drafted to quell the revolt of the youth because the police could not cope, are still facing a presidential commission of inquiry on why they had to fire shots at young protesters at an open tollgate.

Often our policemen are seen as aliens or an occupation force because they receive instructions from commanders who are politically, geographically, and culturally distant from the people.

They are also seen as agents of a Federal Government that are virtually resented by the people in different states.As a result, the police-is-your-friend slogan of the Nigeria Police is treated with derision and received with disdain.As much as possible, whether citizens are right before the law or not, they simply avoid the police as much as possible.

We are deconstructing a countrys police setting whose men and officers collect gratification from both the complainant and the accused.The effect of these anomalies is that we have a very crude and inept police force in a flawed federation.

The Inspector-General takes instructions from the President of the country even if the orders are inimical to the overall interest of the nation. Indeed, he (IGP) is beholden to the President. For, as we know, our public officers would rather be loyal to the appointing body than the Constitution.

At the state level, although the elected governor is described as the chief security officer of the state, the police commissioner is not obliged to take orders from him. It has come to be that State Commissioners of Police are often at odds with State Governors on security matters. This inanity cannot and should not be allowed to continue.It is against this background that we once again reiterate our call on the Federal Government to tinker with the political structure of the country.And so Abuja can begin this with legal decentralisation of police operations as once suggested by the Vice President. The unitary system that gave birth to the unwieldy federal police has failed the nation. It is not sustainable anymore.

As this newspaper has often noted, the states, particularly the ones that can afford it, standing as constituent parts of the federation should be allowed by law to have their own police force.

The elected representatives in the National Assembly once saw the wisdom behind this advice and opted for the creation of State Police.This has not been a reality as the presidency has been unyielding to the political restructuring suggestion that can save the nation from the brink it is at the moment.

Some cynics have expressed fears that state governors would use the police under their control to threaten and intimidate opponents.This argument does not hold water. The rule of law and independence will be thus tested if there are abuses of power. Its introduction should be part of our political development. Until we give it a trial we cannot be so sure of its effectiveness or otherwise.

At the moment, the country is under policed. With a population of 180 million citizens, Nigeria has 350,572 men and women, at a ratio of 205 per 100,000.A significant percentage of these men are attached as guards to holders of public office and some wealthy private citizens.These officers are under the control of an IG that is located in Abuja, the nations capital.The result is that there is a palpable alienation. Policemen in the states do not see it as a constitutional duty to protect the citizenry.Elsewhere in the world, for example, in the United States or the United Kingdom, the police command is localised.The Sheriff is the local police chief whose tenure in office is dependent on a good performance.The U.S. has a total of 794, 300 policemen across the country at a ratio of 254 per 100,000. TheNew York City alone has the NYPD with a force strength of 40, 400 officers.These police officers are not under a general or federal command.Therefore, the duty bearers in the country should not get it twisted, the future of our nation depends on how its current managers handle the clamour for federalism. And so institutionalisation of state police in this context is critical to the survival of our convoluted federation whose leadership seems unconcerned about federalism, which is now a desideratum.

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Provincial structure is heart of federalism, says CM Rai – The Himalayan Times

Posted: at 3:38 pm

DHARAN, JANUARY 7

Province 1 Chief Minister Sherdhan Rai has described the provincial structure as the essence of federalism.

We were familiar with the central and local levels, but the provincial structure is rather a new practice, said the chief minister.

He was speaking at the Ministry of Financial Affairs and Planning today.

Just as the provincial structure is the heart of federalism, MFAP is the heart of the provincial government. I have come to know that this heart of the provincial government is not doing well, he said, upon being briefed about the financial scenario of the province.

I have got to know how this heart that was performing well in the first year landed in this chronic condition in the second year; now that weve diagnosed the problem, the process of healing the ailing heart has started, he added.

During his presence at the ministry today, Rai instructed the staffers at the ministry to set right all the wrongs happening in the ministry.

The latest political development in the country might have brought some confusion, but I urge all of you to perform your duty with full sincerity, he said.

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News: OFC says, again,very difficult to participate in election under current conditions; cautions threat to multinational federalism dangerous move -…

Posted: at 3:37 pm

Members of OFC: From left Bekele Gerba, vice chairman, Merera Gudina, Chairman, Jawar Mohammed, member, Hamza Borana, member, and Dejene Tafa, 2nd vice chairman in charge of political affairs. All but Merera are currently facing both, terrorism and criminal charges . Picture: Bale Robe during campaign trip in 2019. Social media

By Medihane Ekubamichael@Medihane

Addis Abeba, January 09/2021 Opposition party Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) has released yet another statement last night saying that the party will find it very difficult to participate in the coming general elections scheduled to take place on June 05/2021.

The statement, the second in as many weeks, said that repeated the calls that it will be very difficult for us to participate in the election, as our leaders, members and supporters, who would be participating, coordinating and observing, have been arrested and others have been displaced and our offices have been forcibly closed.

The party has made a similar call on December 09 last year in which it said it finds it extremely hard to take part in coming elections under the existing conditions in the country whereby many of its leadership as well as rank and file members remained jailed, most of its offices are closed by the government, and the free movements of its members are restricted.

As the OFC has repeatedly expressed in the past, it finds it extremely difficult to take part in the election when the majority of its members from federal to Kebelle (small districts) level who are competing, coordinating, and observing elections are imprisoned, and majority of its offices, except for its headquarters, are closed.

The OFC has requested an immediate effort to reach at a national consensus before holding the elections, a call it repeated in its latest release yesterday despite falling on deaf ears.

In addition to calls for national consensuses and the release of its members, OFCs latest statement also warned that the growing calls by right-wing forces that oppose the constitution and the multinational federalism [and] push forward with threat to it was reverberating among those in control of the scepter of power who are also seen working to reverse the federal structure. it said, and cautioned OFC understands that this is a dangerous move.

It is to be recalled that on September 30 last year OFC had called for genuine national dialogue and warned that Ethiopia has entered a new year with all its heavy political burdens with both hope and despair. And without a shadow of doubt, the hoped-for democratic transition is disturbingly failing.

The expansion of the political space is crucial for our political problems as well as for free, fair and democratic elections!

Statement from the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) on current affairs of our country

Since its inception, the Oromo Federal Congress has been anorganization that believes in peaceful dialogue and negotiation and hasstressed the need for dialogue, discussion and negotiation to solve ourcountrys political problems. It isknown that it has been working for free, fair and democratic elections with theaim of holding public office.Accordingly, many of our members have made great sacrifices in our yearsof bitter struggle against the EPRDF-led government for the democratization ofthe federal system, interference in the autonomy of the states and theabolition of the caretaker administration.

OFC leaders, members, and supporters from the center to thelower echelons were killed, arrested, tortured, deported, and persecuted. Still today, countless OFC members andsupporters, from the top to the bottom, are being tortured and imprisoned invarious concentration camps, including police stations, special forces camps,corporate offices, prisons, and classrooms, simply because they stand up for therights and freedoms of their people.

On the other hand, using the current Ethiopian crisis, right-wing forces have begun to push political parties established based on the constitution and identity out of the political space by claiming that the the multinational federalism we got in its shape is too much.There are more and more organizations working on condemning the question of nations together with the TPLF, forgetting that it was raised before the formation of the TPLF.We say that these right-wing forces should be warned on time.

The purpose of the Oromo Federalist Congress is to ensure that the people of the Oromia region are represented only in the federal system of the people and in democratic elections, and that their basic democratic right to self-determination, without being ashamed of their identity, neither being lesser nor greater than anyone, is respected in accordance with international principles. However, while the right-wing forces that oppose the constitution and the multinational federalism push forward with threat to it, those in control of the scepter of power are also seen working to reverse the federal structure. OFC understands that this is a dangerous move.

OFC has been urging to resolve political differences through national dialogue, fearing that a war alternative could harm our poor country and benefit of our people, and thereby hasten the downfall of our country. Neither the government nor the ruling party are listening to us.

What is more surprising is that the government, the ruling party, and the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) have set a timeline for the sixth general election, leaving aside efforts to bring about national consensus that has been ongoing for three years from Addis Abeba to Arba Minch and Bishoftu. It is known that competing parties, the Ethiopian people, and international observers have denied that all five previous elections were free, fair, credible, and did not meet international standards.In the current situation, with the treatment of the government and its allies, it seems naive to expect the next election to be free, fair and credible.

Therefore: The Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) has called for participatory negotiations and discussions on the complex problems of our country and the transition to democracy despite falling on deaf ears, the part will still present the following questions and suggestions.

1. The FDRE government, in accordance with the human and democratic rights enshrined in the Constitution and the international law adopted by our country, should immediately release our party leaders, members, supporters and other sections of the society who have been imprisoned for their political positions and ensure that political parties operate freely. We also strongly urge that our offices, which have been closed by government forces, be reopened. We would like to inform the people of Ethiopia and all concerned bodied that it will be very difficult for us to participate in the election, as our leaders, members and supporters, who would be participating, coordinating and observing, have been arrested and others have been displaced and our offices have been forcibly closed.

2. We urge the government and the ruling party to urgentlyfacilitate the situation so that the leaders and members of the police, specialforces and militias engaged in different parts of the country workindependently of party politics and respect the democratic and human rights ofcitizens.

3. The state-run media is only reflecting the interests ofthe ruling party. Some so-called privatemedia outlets that have close ties to the government sing a single melodycalling for the government to use force to destroy ethnic and nationalistparties. Such an approach will not benefit our country. Therefore, we respectfully request all mediaoutlets to work diligently to provide information to Ethiopians so that thepublic can understand the general situation of our country and fulfill theirprofessional duties.

4. Law is enacted to protect and guarantee the security of citizens, whereas development and prosperity are unthinkable by just only saying them repeatedly in a country where law and order are not respected. Extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, displacements, and intimidation are taking place in various areas outside of the provisions of the Constitution. The police rearrests a citizen whose release of had been ordered by the courts under unidentified authorization. Government officials who commit crimes under the guise of government shall not be prosecuted. There are very few, though. We therefore call on the courts, the criminal investigation department and the police to be independent of any party or group and to support the efforts to build good governance and democracy.

5. We entrust the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC)to monitor the inhumane and undemocratic activities in various parts of thecountry and fulfill its legal obligations and play its role in saving ourpeople from massacre.

6. We are at a critical juncture in which our countryspolitical forces can narrow our differences and create a national consensus andachieve a successful democratic transition.We urge the government, the ruling party and the National ElectoralBoard of Ethiopia to put an end to their policy of holding free, fair and acceptableelections and to create a conducive political environment.

In conclusion: What we want to leave to the people of Ethiopia and history is that we have failed to develop and modernize our politics for the past fifty years and we have been struggling from one crisis to another, from one transition to another. The result is being seen. Unfortunately because we have not learned from our recent history, we are in a situation where our priests, sheikhs, Aba Gedas, and elders find it difficult to bring about national consensus for the past three years. We are seeing the pros and cons with the Ethiopian people.

For the past three years, we are struggling with a dream of bringing about a peaceful, free and fair election without a national consensus and agreement on a common roadmap for a successful democratic transition. Therefore, to avoid that this is not becoming a fools marathon,our organization respectfully calls on all Ethiopian political forces and the Ethiopian people, who are truly organized for the rights and freedoms of your people, to work together to save our country from this difficult time.

There is no alternative than a national consensus to bring a successful democratic transition!

Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC)

Finfinne: January 8, 2021

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BJPs agenda of one nation, one election is a threat to democracy and federalism – National Herald

Posted: at 3:37 pm

The Modi government and the BJP are planning another serious assault on the Constitution and the very basis of parliamentary democracy in India. The BJP has conducted 25 webinars in the last week of December 2020 to propagate the idea of one nation, one election. This came in the background of Prime Minister Narendra Modi making one of his periodic pronouncements about the need for one nation, one election. The latest was at the 80th Presiding Officers Conference on November 26, which happened to be the Constitution Day.

The BJP webinars trotted out the now well-known arguments for the need for simultaneous elections of the Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections: that it will save a lot of expenditure; repeated elections bring the Model Code of Conduct into play which hampers development work and divert officials attention and so on.

In one of the webinars, Bhupendra Yadav, a general secretary of BJP, stated, Election is just a means in democracy, but repeated elections show that it has become the only objective of a democracy. Governance lags behind.

The underlining message is that too many elections are not good for democracy; more important is governance. This is in line with what the CEO of Niti Aayog, Amitabh Kant, said that there is too much democracy in India with regard to the farmers struggle. The message is as clear as daylight the call for one nation, one election is a logical extension of one nation, one leader and the leader has declared that this is not a matter of debate but a necessity for India.

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Ramachandra Guha: Under cover of Covid-19, Modi regime has stepped up its attack on Indian democracy – Scroll.in

Posted: at 3:36 pm

2020 has been a bad year for the health of Indians and for the health of Indian democracy too. The Modi-Shah regime, which is authoritarian by instinct and belief, has used the pandemic to further undermine the processes of constitutional democracy and strengthen its hold over State and society. In pursuit of its ambitions, the regime has launched a multi-pronged attack on the Indian Parliament, Indian federalism, the Indian press and Indian civil society organisations. Let us consider these in turn.

In the years he was chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi displayed a consistent contempt for legislative procedure. A report compiled after he had been a decade in office showed that of all the chief ministers of Gujarat since the states formation, Modi convened the least assembly sittings.

Months would pass in which the assembly would not meet; when it did, a day would be enough to dispose of matters at hand, with much time spent mourning members who had passed away. As is well known, apart from disregarding inputs from MLAs from the Opposition and even from his own party, Chief Minister Modi rarely consulted his own cabinet about major policy decisions.

Modi has carried this contempt for consultation with him to New Delhi. For him, Parliament is a place to make the odd stirring speech in, not a chamber for deliberative decision-making. The partisan attitude adopted by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the chairman of the Rajya Sabha is very much in line with their leaders way of thinking. Their deputies act in the same way.

Consider the manner in which the farm bills were passed through the Rajya Sabha, with the deputy-chairman of the House, Harivansh, violating all the rules and norms of Parliament by refusing to allow actual voting, and making the bills into law on the basis of his own sense of the House.

Of this departure from democratic practice, PDT Achary, the former secretary-general of the Lok Sabha, wrote, Parliaments systems are designed to enable the opposition to have its say and the government to have its way. If the former is not possible, parliament as a democratic institution cannot survive for long.

Those who are Modi bhakts, or who believe that the ends justify the means, have disregarded these violations and welcomed the bills as historic. On the other hand, supporters of the farm bills with more scruples and a deeper understanding of history have honourably alerted us to the awful consequences of such contempt for Parliament.

Thus, as the senior lawyer, Arvind Datar, writes, The enormous economic loss and the dislocation of normal life around Delhi could have been wholly avoided if the Bills had not been bulldozed through Parliament. The agitation teaches us the importance of following parliamentary procedure not just in letter but in spirit as well.

Union ministers may put the blame on urban Naxals, Khalistanis, and Opposition parties, but, as Datar points out, it is the extraordinary haste with which the farm bills were pushed through both the Houses [that] has created the present crisis, which can only exacerbate the economic woes caused by the pandemic.

More recently, the government cancelled the winter session of Parliament citing the pandemic, even as the Union home minister was addressing large political rallies in Assam and West Bengal.

As chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi claimed to believe in co-operative federalism. As prime minister, he has sought to savagely curtail the rights and responsibilities of states. Again, the farm bill can serve as an example. As Harish Damodaran has pointed out, since the Constitution clearly places both agriculture and markets on the state list, on these matters the Centre can encourage, incentivise, persuade and cajole states. However, it cannot legislate on its own.

Nonetheless, through a creative (mis)interpretation of an item in the concurrent list which covers trade and commerce in foodstuffs, the Centre had these bills passed, through the dubious procedure in Parliament described above, and without consulting the states at all.

The pandemic has witnessed a more general attack on the federal principle. The powers of the Centre have been strengthened through colonial-era laws and the National Disaster Management Act. Meanwhile, state governments run by Opposition parties have been undermined by bribing, cajoling, or intimidating legislators to switch their allegiance to the Bharatiya Janata Party.

A true marker of how much the BJP cares for power and how little for the health of Indians was that the prime minister waited for the swearing-in of the new government in Madhya Pradesh before imposing a draconian lockdown at four hours notice.

In its attack on federalism, the BJP has particularly targeted two large states West Bengal and Maharashtra. Here, governors more loyal to the ruling party at the Centre than to the Constitution and Central investigative agencies more loyal to their ministers than to the law have been used by the Modi-Shah regime to harass the non-BJP governments that currently rule these states. This intimidation has become so brazen that the BJPs once loyal and long-term ally, the Shiv Sena, was compelled to state: What if our Prime Minister is taking a special interest in destabilising State governments? The Prime Minister belongs to the country. The country stands as a federation. Even the states which do not have BJP governments, those states also talk about national interest. This feeling is being killed.

In his years as chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi was deeply distrustful of even the most non-political of civil society organisations. He has carried this distrust over to New Delhi. The year, 2020, had seen a tightening of the already extensive curbs on non-governmental organisations. The new amendment to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, argues one analyst, is designed to facilitate arbitrary, vindictive action by the authorities.

By curbing and confining NGOs, the bill shall have far-reaching consequences on the fields of education, health, peoples livelihoods, gender justice and indeed democracy in India.

Narendra Modi has never much liked journalists who think for themselves, as his refusal to hold a press conference in six-and-a-half years as prime minister shows. The year, 2020, saw growing attacks on the independence of the press in India. In the first two months after the lockdown was imposed in late March, some 55 journalists faced FIRs, physical intimidation, and arrest. The highest number of attacks on journalists were in Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh, which are all ruled or controlled by the BJP.

As a report by the Free Speech Collective noted, The year 2020 has been a bad one for journalists in India The killing and attacks on journalists have continued unabated. While self-censorship within the media remained an open secret, the government sought to increase regulation of the media, with media policies, funding and administrative mechanisms for online media.

India now occupies the 142nd place on the World Press Freedom Index, ranking well below Nepal, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, though the fact that we are three places above Pakistan may provide some consolation to deshbhakts.

Apart from attacks on Parliament, federalism, civil society organisations and the press, 2020 had also seen a further stigmatisation of Indias large and vulnerable Muslim minority. This stigmatisation has been overseen by two of the most powerful politicians in India. The hand of the home minister, Amit Shah, is most visible in the BJPs Bengal campaign and in the polices partisan handling of the Delhi riots and their aftermath and the hand of Uttar Pradeshs chief minister, Adityanath, in the incarceration of a growing number of Muslim men on charges that are shady, flimsy, or non-existent.

Notwithstanding the prime ministers recent speech at the Aligarh Muslim University, it is clearly Adityanaths majoritarianism that represents the deep, inner feelings of the party faithful, as manifest in the eagerness of other BJP chief ministers to enact the discriminatory laws and practices adopted in UP.

When the new laws regarding agriculture and labour were passed, there was a chorus of applause from free-market columnists crowing, the crisis has not been wasted. The chorus was credulous, because sustained economic growth requires both a level playing field and the rule of law. Neither does, or can, exist, in the Modi-Shah regime.

Capitalists who contribute more to the secretive electoral bonds scheme shall get preferential treatment over those who dont. Politicians who defect from other parties to the BJP miraculously have all corruption cases against them dropped. The police, the bureaucracy and even the courts allegedly act in the interests of their political masters rather than according to the law.

To hold the State and the private sector accountable, one needs the transparent gaze of a free press, informed debate in Parliament, and independent civil society organisations. With what transpired in 2020, we have even less of these than previously. Finally, one cannot have social harmony if the State and the ruling party treat those who are not Hindus as inferior to those who are.

For the prime minister and his party, political power, ideological control, and personal glory take precedence over the economic and social well-being of Indias citizens. They have, therefore, used, or rather abused, the crisis to weaken the institutions of Indian democracy and the traditions of Indian pluralism so as to further the construction of an authoritarian and majoritarian State, which they seek far more diligently than anything else.

Ramachandra Guhas The Commonwealth of Cricket has just been published. His email address is ramachandraguha@yahoo.in.

This article first appeared in The Telegraph.

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