Ethiopian parliament approves controversial state of emergency decree

As Ethiopia celebrates the 122nd anniversary of its victory over Italian invasion at the Battle of Adwa, its parliament approves the six month state of emergency the Ministers of Council passed two weeks ago.

Out of the 539 MPs presented on Friday 346 of them voted accepting the state of emergency. While 88 vote against and 7 MPs abstain. Later Saturday evening the Speaker of the House told state tv that he was mistaken about the yes figure and said, the Yes vote was 395.

This is the first time for the ruling party to witness such a huge opposition in the parliament since it declare wining 100% seat of the Parliament along with its partners in May 2015.

To be implemented a state of emergency needs to get two third vote of the Parliament, which has 547 members, according to the constitution. This morning session 8 MPs were absent and the law has managed to get above the minimum vote required – 339.

But the bill has faced a challenge and opposition, especially from some of the MPs of Oromia Region who expressed their concerns claiming that excessive power is given to the command post to implement the state of emergency.

“The command post is given excess power to take control over resources beyond dealing with the peace and stability of the country,” said an MP from Oromia Region, who noted the mandate of the command post shouldn’t be dealing with administrative issues such as, land and investment.

“For instance the Oromia Regional State has recently cancelled some investors’ projects and created jobs for the youth. What is the command post involves in this issue and change it?” he posed, the question though he didn’t get direct reply for it.

Some MPs also expressed their concern about the exclusion of regional government presidents and local administrations in the command post.

Responding to the issues raised Getachew Ambaye, Federal Attorney General stated that bringing back the peace and stability of the country needs taking corrective measures on any issue that has been done illegally whether it is about land or investment.

Justifying why the regional government heads are not included in the command post, Mr. Getachew posed a question to the House saying, if they are included who are going to do the usual day to day administrative activities in their region?

This morning discussion on the state of emergency has signaled the growing difference between the Oromia Regional state led by the Oromo Peoples Democratic Organization (OPDO) and the ruling coalition. Some of the concerns raised by the Oromia MPs also signals that there is already measures taken by the command post against zonal administrators.

One MP, who indicated that he represented the a people from Nekemt area of Oromia where a death of one civilian and wounding of several peoples was reported in the past few days, said that the mayor and the deputy administrators are arrested at the moment.