Etenesh Abera @EteneshAb
Addis Abeba, May 06/2020 – In a seven pages statement released today, Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (Ezema), led by Berhanu Nega (PhD), says its preferred solution to navigate through Ethiopia’s looming constitutional crisis due to its deferred elections is through constitutional amendment.
The statement by Ezema said that it has been conducting “extensive discussions” with constitutional lawyers over the past months in an attempt to find constitutional way out for the constitutional vacuum due to the decision by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) to postpone the 6th general elections, originally scheduled for August 29.
The party said any attempt at solving the problem should be one that will help the country fend off both the constitutional and political crisis in a short period of time and that solutions must create opportunities to strengthen institutions. It also said the solution should be one that will help stabilize and lead the country towards a stable election and should be one that is not financially too costly for the country and as well as one that considers the shifting regional geopolitics.
To that end, Ezema said after deliberations on all the four options presented by the government: i.e Dissolving the Parliament; Declaring a State of Emergency; Amending the Constitution; and seeking Constitutional Interpretations it has opted for the option of amending the constitution based on the principles under Articles 104 and 105/2 of the constitution.
The statement elaborated that although Ezema believes an overall amendment of the constitution is necessary, that should be a gradual process and raising that as an issues now doesn’t serve the purpose of the pressing matter related to the differed election.
Therefore the constitutional amendment option should be taken only to navigate through the constitutional consequences of the deferred election and in order to amend Article 58/3 of the constitution which deals with the term limits of the Parliament. Article 58/3 states that “The House of Peoples’ Representatives shall be elected for a term of five years. Elections for a new House shall be concluded one month prior to the expiry of the House’s term.”
Amending this article will have the purpose of enabling “the Parliament to postpone the election for not more than one year” with a clear stated goals of guarantying the continuation of the incumbent. But this should be accompanied by unambiguous and clearly stated role of limiting the power of the interim government and restraining it from conducting “major and consequential activities” of a normal government until elections are duly conducted, according to the statement. “We found that by amending this part, providing a straight, constitutional, final and legitimate solution is important.”
Ezema also dismissed as “difficult” calls from other political parties for a formation of a transitional government and cited as reason the horizontal relationships among, and the large numbers of, these political parties.
The decision of the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) on May 04 to approve the option of constitutional interpretation was not the right decision because it is an option whose outcome is unpredictable for such a pressing matter, Ezema said. Due to the current circumstances, the final decision may also bounce back to one of the other three alternatives, it added. But now that the Parliament has approved that option, the party cautioned that the process should not be influenced by political interference.
“Although Ezema believes that this was not the better alternative, if it is going to be implemented, during the process the Council of Constitutional Inquiry (CCI) should be free from influences both from the government and other entities,” the statement said. AS