Feature Analysis: President opens Parliament, HoF joint session amidst increasing calls for inclusive national dialogue. What’s at stake?

President Sahle -Work Zewde delivering her speech at today’s joint session of both Houses. screesnhot

By Medihane Ekubamichael @Medihane  &

Bileh Jelan @BilehJelan 

Addis Abeba, October 05/2020– Despite the growing calls for an all inclusive national dialogue and an establishment for a transitional government from various opposition parties, President Sahle-Work Zewde has announced the new start of the incumbent’s mandate to govern, after its extension was recommended by the Council of Constitutional Inquiry and approved by the House of Federation. The President in her speech delivered to the joint session of the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) and the House of Federation (HoF) kick started the incumbent’s mandate by outlining key policy areas for the 2020/2021 Fiscal Year.

The president’s speech at the joint session of the two Houses, which was held at Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office conference center, also came shortly after Tigray Regional State said it was pulling off all its representatives from both Houses in protest against the start of a new mandate by the incumbent, which the government of Tigray region would be “illegitimate” as of today, which would have marked the end of the five year term limit.

The disagreements between the Federal government and Tigray Regional State has grown to a level that drove Tigray to undertake its own election and show its preparedness to defend the constitutional right of the people through series of military parades and peaceful demonstrations at different towns in Tigray. Whereas the federal government, persistently has been warning Tigray regional state through direct speech of the Prime Minister. The speech that underlined “a possible intervention of the government and fatal outcome that may leave mothers in sorrow” provoked a massive opposition especially from Tigray. He later also made a loose expression of his view to the Tigray election, but said that the result of the election cannot end up with different winner other than TPLF.

In its recent announcement about measures to be taken against the Tigray Regional State to control actions that endanger the constitution, the HoF indicated that there are constitutional grounds to deploy federal security organs following to suspension of the legislator and the executive of the region and establishing an interim government accountable to the federal government.

Tigray Regional State has called off its 38 representatives from the HoPRs and 8 representatives from HoF. According to Liya Kassa, Tigray Communication Affairs Head, who spoke Addis Standard said “Tigray will not put representations at the joint meeting as an elected and legitimate government has not been established.” Additionally Liya said “The fact that calling 6th year 1st round meeting by itself is illegal as it contradicts the constitutional 5 year governmental term.”

Meanwhile a call for national dialogue is increasingly growing requesting the government to arrange a national dialogue that incorporate all stakeholders in the fate of the country. The Oromo Federalist Congress OFC through its announcement has also urged the ruling party to immediately setup a genuine dialogue to avert the coming danger.  The Ethiopian Democratic Party/EDP through its Executive Committee urgent meeting has announced it has put a direction to continue putting pressure so that a national dialogue can be made. His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church through his speech at opening ceremony of September 26, 2020 Demera, pleaded with all Ethiopian political elites to set their differences aside, come together for a dialogue under one roof to avert the danger the country is facing.

The Tigray Executive Committee member, Getachew Reda, in his October 03, 2020, discussion with Tigray TV, indicated that national dialogue being an ultimate solution to resolve the country’s political situation. Meanwhile, he assured Tigray’s firm stand for a clear understanding that bureaucratic procedure including rule of law, judiciary, the diplomatic institution of essential missions, national security, tax collection, basic services and auditors, all civil service works and etc shall continue in the federation even after October 5, 2020.

According to Getachew, the principal lifetime of an elected government ends in 5 years and a newly elected government should have summoned its first joint meeting by the last Monday of the month of Meskerem [October 5th] of the Ethiopian calendar maintaining the federation of the country proceeds while the existing government political administration ends. “The basis for the end of the legitimacy on power is merely constitutional,” he said.

Getachew elaborated that state bureaucratic functions and integrity of the federation shall continue while the political representation of the PM, the Vice PM, the Cabinets, the House of People’s Representative, and the House of Federation ends at the end of the fifth year according to the constitution. Accordingly, their decisions and effects would not be abiding in Tigray Regional State and that of any of the regional states. The House of Federation could not exist as the representation of the member regional delegates expirees as of October 5.

With regard to the joint session meeting summoned by the HoPR which was held today, Getachew discussed that it is unprecedented starting from its identification being “the 5th representatives’ joint meeting for 6th-year commencement of work” that by itself indicates loss of legitimacy of the system. He said “The ruling executive on the contrary is boldly moving forward regardless of consideration for calling for a national dialogue to have common agreement to fill the vacuum of legitimate power. The contrary move to extend the political power in front of an escalated uproar, however, makes the situation dangerous.”

While speaking about the fate of the country with the political turmoil, he said “The country at crossroads along with the ending political legitimacy of the ruling party that has also brought continuing problems compounded by instabilities created as the Prime Minister tries to reshape the country in his own context.”

“The fate of the country predominantly lays on the commitment to come to dialog despite all the irregularities that came along with improper use of power in which basic rights of the people are violated. Furthermore, the government also announced that election shall be held this Ethiopian year, after actually having opposition party leaders in jail. Locked party leaders should be released.” Said Getachew.

Getachew criticized saying “President Esayas never made a single fruitful substance to Eritrea and therefore won’t be of any good to Ethiopia as much as the trust he earned from our Prime minister that probably is more than Ethiopians”. “This, in fact, makes it difficult to positively determine Ethiopia’s fate with foreign hands inserted inside national affairs,” says Getachew.

Tigray is determined to the continuation of basic shared responsibilities to the federation including submission of taxes and inter people interactions. Finance, telecom, diplomatic affairs shall continue regardless. But Tigray won’t recognize any correspondence from the PM, HoPRs, or HoF as it says “their legitimacy expires as of October 5, 2020”.

According to Getachew, “the joint session summoned for October 5 and the subsequent separate meetings to be held over next days is an act no more than a college reunion party that will have no effect on the status of the members”.

“Flexing muscle by showing military parade over different ceremonies that has no connection what so ever with military matters was the result of being insecure and it was aimed to pass a message.” said Getachew and expressed the shows as “prematurely demonstrated” mentioning that all these could best be described with a known proverb in Tigray saying “An empty barrel shouts louder.”  He said that the strength of the government should have been answering the question of the nation and the youth, rather than showing armored military parade that came out of insecurity.

Getachew said “Tigray chose not to spend unnecessary effort to argue over the allegation of the government for the involvement of the State of Tigray on a terrorist act that claimed to be intercepted by the government intelligence and security service on September 26, 2020”. Getachew expressed this allegation as “part of poorly portrayed drama” and chose to disregard it. AS

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