In what can be referred to as the first-of-its-kind session ever since the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power, 88 members of the House of People’s Representatives yesterday displayed strong resistance to the reinstatement of the state of emergency proclamation by voting the highest number of nay votes.
The parliament approved the state of emergency with 395 members voting for it. Eighty eight members – most of whom were members of the Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) – voted against it while seven MPs abstained from voting.
The number of voters that supported the proclamation was first announced to be 346. But later, the communications director of the parliament told The Reporter that the number announced at the session was wrong and corrected it to be 395.
The state of emergency, which was announced a fortnight ago by the Council of Ministers, had to be presented before MPs within 15 days as the parliament was on recess. Had the parliament been on its regular sessions, the proclamation would have been presented to the parliament within 48 hours for approval.
Recently, a proclamation for the drivers’ license fell victim to nay votes. That specific proclamation saw 67 nay votes and 30 abstinence votes.
The government reinstated the state of emergency following the eventful week of February 12-16 that saw the resignation of the prime minister and the releasing of thousands of prisoners including a number of prisoners with political significance.
The state of emergency will stay into effect for the coming six months. If need be, the government can extend it by four months.
A week before the parliament converged for an emergency meeting, social media activists, especially from Oromia region, have been posting the phone numbers of MPs for people to call them and influence their stance.
The secretariat of the command post established for the implementation of the state of emergency gave a statement on Tuesday mentioning this incident. There were people that went to the extent of calling and texting the members on their private lines demanding their vote opposing the reinstatement of the state of emergency.
After the approval of the state of emergency, the parliament also assigned six members of the House to be in the investigative board to assess whether there are no human rights violations while the state of emergency is implemented.
Accordingly, Tadesse Hordofa and Genet Tadesse were chosen to be chair and deputy chair of the board while Nurya Abdurahman, Kimiya Juneidin and Kamil Ahmed were members of the board.