The House of People’s Representatives (HoPR), which has been criticized for its sluggish response to the Oromia and Amhara protests and Gambella massacres, defended its position by saying that it preformed its duties in accordance with the law citing jurisdictional limitations.
Abadula Gemeda, House Speaker, and Asmelash Woldesilassie, Government Whip, during a joint press conference held at the Defense Standing Committee conference hall on Thursday, said that the recently concluded first year of the current parliament has given a “relatively better” emphasis to the dire questions raised by the public through respective standing committees apart from strengthening its supervision and legislative activities.
However, the House Speaker did downplay criticisms that accused lawmakers for failure to take immediate actions on the aftermath of the protests that took place in Oromia and Amhara.
Up until Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn appeared before parliament back in March, the House neither called an emergency session nor raised the issue at its regular sessions.
“Whenever there are clashes or protests in any particular place, the House does not rush and interfere in regional administration matters. The Constitution does not allow us to do so. Regional states have their own councils, executives and administration and we are not mandated to interfere. However, if things go beyond control, there should be steps that should be followed through a committee. So it is not legitimate for us to step into regional matters for every incident,” Abadula told reporters.
“Still, the House’s main objective is not hearing death reports. We want to see our nation enjoying peace. We do not want to hear of a single death,” he said.
With regards to Gambella, Abadula said that the House had to wait for a few days to gather accurate information and declare national morning.
“It was difficult for the House to convene and pass decisions at the early stages since various media outlets have been coming out with conflicting reports,” Abadula said, adding that incidences may still occur in the future and that does not mean that the House would rush or make quick decision for every incident.
Meanwhile, Asmelash commended the House for entertaining public questions, which, according to him, was more than the parliament that had one-third opposition MPs.
Despite the parliament being fully occupied by ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its affiliates, the Government Whip said that the House has performed better in dealing with public issues.