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House to grant amnesty

To extend Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa’ administrations’ terms

On its extra-ordinary session that is scheduled for today, the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) is expected to approve a new bill which will provide for blanket amnesty for any person(s) accused of wide range of crimes such as outrage against the constitution, obstruction of the constitutional order, involvement in civil war, attack on the political and territorial integrity of the state, impairment of the defensive powers of the state, treason, provocation and preparation for violence, incitement of violence, contravention of the State of Emergency (SoE) and contravention of the terrorism Act among others.

The draft proclamation was said to be essential to advance the democratization process in Ethiopia by widening the political space in the country. According to its preamble, the proclamation will be instrumental to create national consensus by “eradicating hatred and mistrust” and boost social, economic and political development.

The bill also notes that amnesty is a useful tool to bring about national reconciliations and unity. It also maintains that its application in the aftermath of some of the major wars in world has been quite successful.       

As stated in the scope of the provisions, the law will be applicable to persons or organizations suspected of or charged with crimes specifically prescribed under the provision and which is committed before May 2018.

On the surface, the most of crimes prescribed on the proclamation appears to be in one way or the other connected to the Ethiopian Constitution and the Ethiopian Constitutional order put in place since 1995.  

The bill is also believed to be important in realizing the ongoing efforts of fostering political consensus and reform launched by the current administration.

Article 6 of the proclamation introduces a provision regarding confiscation of property. According to this provision, any person who has been granted amnesty shall not have the right to claim property which is confiscated by the order of the court in connection to the case they were charged with before receiving amnesty.

But, any person granted the amnesty has a right to live a peaceful life with the community and seek reconciliation on a private capacity, if there is the need, as per the customs or the tradition of each locality.

Unlike most proclamations approved by the lawmaker, the latest bill does not have to be published on the Negarit Gazette to be enforced. It is rather effective from the very day of its approval by the House.

On other hand, a provision in the proclamation also stipulates an exception to the amnesty; it says individuals accused of contravening the terrorism act and are also accused of killing human life will not qualify to receive the amnesty.

This provision is expected to a bit controversial at House to day since most of those accused of terrorism has connection to dead bodies in one way or the other. Furthermore, given the talks with some of opposition groups in the country already, this provision is expected to make negotiation far more challenging.      

In another legislation, the House is also scheduled to approve two separate bills both provided to amend the Addis Ababa City and the Dire Dawa City Administration’s Charters.

The amendments of both charters have extended their respective governmental bodies until the upcoming election, sometime in the next year.

The draft law to amend the Addis Ababa’s charter was first tabled last week while Dire Dawa’s was submitted to the House on Tuesday.

In February this year, the House extended elections scheduled to take place in both federal cities. It was supposed to be carried out last month in May 2018. However, given the political unrest in the country, it was not possible to keep up with the original program.

Since the tenures of both governments are ending today (July 7, 2018), the approval of the HPR to enable the current officials and council members to keep executing their responsibilities until Election Day is paramount.

In addition to extending terms of both governments, the bill also amended the existing provisions which designated the Mayor and the Deputy Mayor of the city administrations to be elected only from their respective councils. The newly amended bill stipulates that Deputy Mayors for both administrations can now be member or non-members of their respective council.