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Parliament to break recess to deliberate on election law

The House of People’s Representatives (HPR), which is currently on recess, will be recalled to session in the coming weeks to debate on the Electoral and Political Parties draft proclamation, The Reporter has learnt.

According to the information obtained from the parliament’s Communication Directorate, the legislators will be summoned in the coming weeks to deliberate on the aforementioned proclamation, which it said requires an urgent endorsement so as to carry out the necessary preparation activities ahead of the upcoming elections.

The stated draft bill has come amidst the ongoing uncertainty and public concern over the possibility of holding the election based on the constitutionally designated schedule.

The upcoming general election is expected to be held on May 2020. However, many people raised their concerns in holding the election with the existing instability and unrest in various parts of the country.

It is to be recalled that due to security problems in the country, the elections of Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa as well as the National Census have been postponed by one year.

Despite the ongoing debate, the government is pushing the legislature to endorse the draft bill, which proposes broader provisions by merging the existing three separate proclamations legislating the election procedure, contesting parties as well as registrations related processes.

The draft bill was first presented before the House on July 4, 2019. However, the parliamentary year ended last week before the draft bill was endorsed.

Currently, the Justice, Law and Democracy Standing Committee of the House is reviewing the draft Electoral and Political Parties Law of Ethiopia.

On Thursday, the committee held its first public hearing sessions whereby by various stakeholders including the Head of Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) Birtukan Mideksa, leaders of political parties as well as experts have taken part in the debate. Besides that, the Committee has also called another public hearing for Monday, July 22, 2019 to extend public debates on the stated draft bill.

The Reporter has learnt that after the standing committee undertakes the revision and public hearing sessions, the draft bill is going to be taken back to the House to be endorsed in the expected extra-ordinary session.

“Upon the standing committee’s request, the House Speaker is expected to call MPs after one or two weeks,” Communication Team Leader of the Parliament Yacob Woldesenbet told The Reporter on Thursday.

Citing the law, Yacob explained that whenever there is an urgent issue that requires the legislator’s decision, the lawmakers are recalled at any-time during their recess period in accordance with Article 15(2) of the amended HPR Working Procedures and Members Code of Conduct No.6/2015. He further told The Reporter that in the coming weeks, the parliament will reconvene to endorse the draft bill.

After the extraordinary meeting is called, until the issue for which the meeting is called is resolved, the meeting shall be conducted at any days and hours of the week. According to the House’s regulation, the issue to which extraordinary meeting is held shall be determined on the basis of the Constitution while the meeting shall be conducted in the place where the Speaker deems suitable.  

During the concluded 4th year of the current [5th] parliament term, out of a total of 67 draft legislations that were presented before law makers in the year, the house has approved 62 new proclamations and two regulations while two decisions were also jointly endorsed with HPR and House of Federation (HOF).