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Mahlet Fasil

Addis Abeba, March 02/2018 –  Ethiopia’s ruling party controlled members of parliament have this morning approved the controversial state of emergency imposed by the council of ministers on February 16. The emergency decree will last for six months.

According to the state affiliated media, FanaBC, of the 546 members of parliament, 346 have voted in favor, while 88 voted against, and seven have abstained. Despite the approval, however, the number of parliamentarians who opposed and abstained against the decree is unprecedented and can be taken as a sign of the changing political dynamics in Ethiopia. According to the weekly newspaper, Fortune, 441 members of parliament were in attendance.  But the Facebook page of the parliament said 490 members were in attendance.

The parliament was summoned from its recess to hold today’s extraordinary session as the 15 days constitutionally mandate period for the council to enforce the decree would have ended.

The council of ministers have announced the latest round of state of emergency, the second in a year and half,  a day after the unexpected resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

However, the announcement came under criticism both from Ethiopia’s key ally, the US, which stated its strong disagreement. It was also criticized by local opposition party members, activists, academicians and international rights organizations. Although to a lesser extent than the US, the state of emergency has also drawn widespread criticism and reservations from many of Ethiopia’s traditional western allies including the EU, The UK, Germany, Norway and  Sweden.

On February 27, the Command post established to oversee the emergency decree said its patience against what it called anti-peace elements in the country has run out and it no longer tolerates any form of disruptions of public peace; it said it instructed security forces “to take necessary measures to restore peace.”  AS

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