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Parliament suspends planned meetings
The Ethiopian Parliament

Parliament suspends planned meetings

GERD visitation canceled over COVID-19

The House of People’s Representatives canceled at least three important meetings and events scheduled for this week and next week, to curb COVID-19 outbreak in Ethiopia, The Reporter has learnt.

Following the guidelines issued by the government on Monday, several regular activities such as education institutions, public gatherings and mass activities have been halted as part of a nation-wide precautionary measure to contain the spread. Similarly, this measure further forced the country’s legislative body to cancel both of its regular sessions and its standing committees meetings.

The Reporter has learnt that among the high-profile meetings that had been scheduled to be held includes a meeting of the Foreign Relation and Peace Affairs Standing Committee that planned to summon the Minster of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Water and Irrigation and relevant individuals, who have taken part in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations with Egypt, and Sudan.

“The meeting was intended to hear the current affairs and outstanding issues from ministers and negotiator’s regarding the US government’s recent statements as well as the ongoing diplomatic pressure mounted against Ethiopia,” the chairman of Foreign Relation and Peace Affairs Standing Committee of the House, Tesfaye Daba confirmed to The Reporter.

The Chairman further confirmed that the standing committee had informed the planned meeting along with agendas and specific questions that require clarifications and reactions from the negotiators to House Speaker, Tagesse Chaffo. The House Speaker, in his part had approved it to go ahead, before the Coronavirus outbreak forced the standing committee to cancel the meeting.

In addition, the outbreak has also prohibited the parliament to hold another important extra-ordinary meeting, which had been planned to be held by the Trade and Industry Affairs Standing Committee. The meeting was said to look at the current market inflation and surging prices on consumer goods, allegedly exacerbated by greedy business people who have resorted to take advantage from the spread of the virus. However, the meeting has been cancelled, as the guideline imposed by the government prohibits gatherings.

Beyond the cancelation of meetings, the measure has also prevented a team of MPs headed by Tagesse Chaffo, from traveling to Guba to visit the GERD.

Tesfaye explained that this high level parliamentarian visit had been arranged based on the recommendation by Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed (PhD). Hence the visit was scheduled to take place in the next two weeks whereby the House Speaker, Deputy House Speaker, all of the Standing Committees and top government officials would be visiting the country’s USD four billion flagship project.

 It is to be recalled that while presenting his government’s report before the House last month, PM Abiy had urged lawmakers to visit the dam to witness the projects progress.

According to Tesfaye, having taken the PM’s call into consideration, the office of the House speaker requested the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to provide a Helicopter to fly to the Construction site, near Sudan boarder.

Even though the MoD expressed its readiness to offer its flight service, the visit has already been suspended due to the same reasons.

The Ministry of Health and Ethiopian Public Health Institute jointly reported the country’s first coronavirus case on March 13. Since then, the number has increased to nine, with an additional 117 people who have come in contact with the first case now under quarantine. later on, announced by the officials [on Wednesday 18 March], at least 75 out of the said 117 individuals who had been quarantined, have been released and freed to go home after they have been cleared of the virus.