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Lawmakers endorse state of emergency proclamation

Lawmakers endorse state of emergency proclamation

Tadesse Hordofa to head Inquiry Board

A week after the commencement of its second year parliamentary term, the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR), ratified the State of Emergency Proclamation during its third regular session on Thursday.

The legislation, titled "The State of Emergency Proclamation for the Maintenance of Public Peace and Security," was endorsed with an overwhelming vote 12 days after the Council of Ministers announced the decree to bring an end to the violence that occurred in parts of Oromia and Amhara regional states.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn first declared a state of emergency, considered to be effective as of October 8, 2016, which came a week after the tragic Irrecha festival deaths that claimed scores of lives and subsequent violent protests spreading in Oromia.

While presenting the bill before the House, Amanuel Abrha, Deputy Government Whip, told MPs that the Command Post (CP), which is chaired by Prime Minister Hailemariam, had already begun discharging its duties. Siraj Fegessa, Minister of Defense, was also declared head of Command Post Secretariat. Siraj will be leading the implementation of the state of emergency.

The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia grants the Council of Ministers the power to decree a state of emergency in cases of external invasion, a breakdown of law and order which endangers the constitutional order that could not be controlled by regular law enforcement agencies and personnel, a natural disaster or epidemic occurs.

But the council should also notify the HPR about the declaration within 48 hours.

However, the state of emergency, before being implemented, requires the majority vote of MPs by at least a two-thirds majority vote.

A state of emergency would be effective for a maximum of six months. But with a majority vote in the House it can be extended for four months successively.

Meanwhile, the House on its part has the responsibility to establish a State of Emergency Inquiry Board. The Board, according to the Constitution of the republic, comprises seven persons to be chosen and assigned by the House among its members from legal experts

Hence, following the endorsement of the proclamation, the House revealed the establishment of the Inquiry Board. Seven members were presented by the House Speaker, Abadula Gemeda.

Accordingly, Tadesse Hordofa, who is the Chairperson of Higher Educational Institutions Affairs Standing Committee, was elected as the Chairman of the Inquiry Board while another MP, Genet Tadesse, who is Chairwoman of the Budget and Finance Affairs Standing Committee, was voted to serve as Deputy Chair of the Board.

Similarly, two other MPs, Muna Ahmed (Chairwoman of Works and Urban Development Affairs Standing Committee) and Nuriya Abdurahman (Member of Advisory Committee to the House), were also elected members of the Board.

The remaining three members of the Inquiry Board were also elected from the justice sector Kifletsion Mammo (a Federal Supreme Court Judge and Member of the Council of Constitutional Inquiry), Habte Fichalla (Head of the Office of the Deputy President of Federal Supreme Court) and Se’id Hassan (a Federal High Court Judge).

The state of emergency proclamation has a total of 12 articles, which are categorized under four provisional parts that include a General part, Emergency Measures and Prohibited Actions, the Establishment and the Responsibilities of State of Emergency Command Post and Inquiry Board and Miscellaneous Provisions.