ADDIS ABABA. — Ethiopia’s upper parliamentary chamber, House of Federation (HoF), has approved an extension to the mandate of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s parliament as well as regional parliaments and councils.
“The House of Federation has approved a decision to extend the term of all assemblies until international health institutions have deemed the threat from coronavirus to be over,” the Ethiopian News Agency reported.
The HOF during a session approved the Council of Constitutional Inquiry’s (CCI) recommendations submitted to the Constitutional Interpretation and Identity sub-committee in late May this year. The approval has 114 members voting in favour, four voted against with one abstention.
The move lays to rest the question of what happens to the mandate of the current parliament which expires in October this year. Elections meant to reconstitute a new parliament have been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The general elections were originally to take place on August 29.
The CCI’s recommendations included that terms of office of the House of Peoples Representatives, HoPR, the HoF, state councils and the executive at federal and state levels be extended for as long as Covid-19 pandemic continues to be a threat to public health, and a current State of Emergency (SOE) remained in place.
It also argued for elections to be held within a year after the relevant authorities declare that Covid-19 pandemic is no longer a threat to public health.
Reacting to the resignation of its speaker Keria Ibrahim as the house met to decide on the recommendations, deputy speaker, Mohammed Rashid, said the resignation had no effect on the working procedures of the HoF.
Mohammed further chided Keria for the manner in which she announced her resignation. He bemoaned her decision to publicise the resignation instead of submitting it through the appropriate channel.
Some opposition leaders have called for a caretaker or transitional government to guide the country to elections, a suggestion Abiy dismissed as unworkable during a question and answer session on Monday with lawmakers.
Dawud Ibsa, chairman of the opposition Oromo Liberation Front, said yesterday that the House of Federation vote “does not have any constitutional basis”. He said his party would meet soon to figure out how to respond.
If major opposition parties reject the recommendations from the Council of Constitutional Inquiry, “protests or election boycotts could become a reality, reducing the chances of successful competitive polls in 2021,” said William Davison of the International Crisis Group (ICG), a conflict-prevention organisation.
“That would mean more political instability and undermine the planned democratic transition,” he said. — Africa News.
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