Immigration clarified, Jawar needs to have citizenship certificate

Following clarification from Immigration Department that applicants for Citizenship need to get a certificate of citizenship, National Election Board of Ethiopia sent inquiry to Oromo Federalist Congress Party to produce Jawar Mohammed’s citizenship certificate within ten days.

Ethiopia _ Immigration _ Jawar
Jawar Mohammed during press conference sometime in August 2019. Photo credit : Tiksa Negeri/Reuters via VOA Amharic

February 20, 2020

The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has been undertaking numerous reform measures for several months now to conduct credible elections in Ethiopia.

And they do not seem to be leaving any stone unturned, including the eligibility of individuals to be party members.

The legislation that governs the Board, which also governs political parties as it relates to election matters, states that only Ethiopian Citizens can join regional or national political parties.

There has been a controversy between the Board and one of the major political parties operating in the Oromo region of Ethiopia – Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC).

It is about the Ethiopian Citizenship status of Jawar Mohammed – former director of Oromia Media Network (OMN). He also calls himself a master of Qeerroo (Oromo youth) and as leader of the “second government” although  PM Abiy Ahmed rejected in the past that there is only one government in Ethiopia.

The party argued that it accepted Jawar as a party member in December 2019 after verifying that he has renounced his American Citizenship and applied for Ethiopian Citizenship. It also asserted that he is now living in Ethiopia and that it is enough evidence that Jawar is an Ethiopian citizen.

On February 11, Ethiopia’s Election Board sent a letter to the Immigration Department requesting detailed clarification, within ten days, concerning administrative and legal procedures to acquire Ethiopian Citizenship again.

Amharic Service of the Voice of America reported on Thursday that Immigration had sent a detailed response to the Election Board’s inquiry.

Renouncing Citizenship from another country and applying for Citizenship is not adequate by itself to obtain Ethiopian Citizenship, Immigration informed NEBE (a practice in many other countries.)

Immigration Department clarified that a committee within the department looks into the application for Citizenship. If it deems the application eligible, it will recommend to the decision-making unit, and then the person who applied for Citizenship will be issued with a certificate of Citizenship.

Jawar seemingly bypassed some of the legal procedures, but he and his party’s chairman, Merara Gudina,  argue that the “Immigration Department is not right.” Merera argues that he “read the law himself.”

Jawar himself believes that the Board is creating unnecessary complications.  But the Board seems to demonstrate persistence in enforcing political party ethics.

 The Board wrote to Oromo Federalist Congress, according to the VOA Amharic report, requesting that the party needs to produce Jawar’s certificate of Citizenship within ten days.

What it means is that Jawar has to get Citizenship Certificate from the Immigration Department, as required by the law, or do something about his membership, which he wants to run in the upcoming general election.

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