Is there still a state of emergency in Ethiopia?

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by Awol Kassim Allo

If only 346 MPs voted in favor of the emergency proclamation, then, there is no state of emergency in Ethiopia, since that vote took place. Here is why: according to the Constitution in whose defense this emergency is imposed, a state of emergency declared by the Council of Ministers should be repealed forthwith unless approved by a two-thirds vote of all MPs. Note that the constitutional requirement is not two-thirds of the votes present and voting. It is two-thirds of the votes of all MPs. The requirement set forth under article 59 (1) does not apply to the state of emergency – an extraordinary situation governed specifically by article 93. Please also note that the Amharic version of Article 59 (1), which is the controlling version in case there is a conflict, does not make any distinction between ‘members present and voting’ and ‘.members voting’

Given this discrepancy between the Amharic version and the English version of article 59 (1), one could conclude with absolute certainty that Article 93 requires the vote of two-thirds of all the 547 MPs, not a vote by two-thirds of members present and voting. Hence this state of emergency requires a vote of 365 to pass. With 346 votes, parliament is clearly expressing its intent to reject it.

If the report that only 346 MPs voted in favor is accurate, then, there is no state of emergency in Ethiopia.

4 Responses to Is there still a state of emergency in Ethiopia?

  1. Ademo,

    You and Tsegaye A. are blabbering on something you do not seem know very well. Below is what I shared with Tsegaye on the other page. It will help you correct your glaring mistakes about the Constitution.

    THe first issue is about quorum.

    Article 58 (1) of the Constitution specifies that “the presence of more than half of the members of the House (of Peoples Representatives) constitutes a quorum.” No matter how serious the issue of state of emergency is, the Constitution does not make exception regarding quorum.

    It does not require all members of the House (i.e. 547 or 539 of them) to be present to reject a decree of state of emergency passed by the Council of Ministers for the first six months as specified in Article 93 (2) (a) OR to reject the decree for renewal as specified in Article 93 (3).

    As a matter of procedure, the first thing the Speaker of the House verifies is if there is quorum which is the number of members of the House duly assembled and legally competent to vote.

    Based on Articles 58(1) and 93, with 441 MPs present, there was quorum to make a legally binding vote. And two – thirds majority vote of 441 is 294.

    Unlike what you guys say, the Constitution is not talking about two-thirds votes of approval of the state of emergency decreed by the Council of Ministers. On the contrary it requires two-thirds votes to reject it. So, if the vote that rejected the decree is 88, where is the two – thirds vote that can prevent it from becoming law of the land? In fact, 294 rejecting vote was needed to defeat it from becomeing law.

    Either way, by approval (346) or lack of rejection (294 votes) the decree of the Council has become law of the land.

    Leave the law to serious lawyers and get back to your agitation.

    Shegitu Dadi
    March 2, 2018 at 7:34 pm

  2. Dr.Awol,
    You are right in that the votes are not legally binding.
    Tigray Front’s tactics never change. A year earlier it incited
    a conflict between Somali and Oromo resulting in over a million
    of the latter being forced from the region. Did you note what Tigray
    Front proposed as a solution? Resettle many of those in Addis Ababa area!
    This was identical tactic when it incited in Gumuz-Benishangul and Gambela!!

    Protests and civil disobedience must continue regardless. Never should
    citizens wait for ethnic party leaders. A new leadership already is emerging at the grassroots level. This is the only way to bring the already frightened and confused Tigray Front to its knees.

    March 3, 2018 at 11:06 am

  3. Dear All Ethiopians. We believe we must work out strategy as urgent as possible together and implement without delay. Now our enemy clear-A TPLF mercenarie. I would urge Oromo and Amhara leaders in particular to put aside eany difference and work together to end this regime. But To save our country, and our people, Let us make honest and trustful commitment under the moto “People first” and work hard to end this very very fragile regime. We have good number of people in the military, in the police as well as in the ruling party that need immediate change.
    I would specially urge, those Oromo leaders who need to stop their nationalistic agenda and politics and work with all to save all our Ethiopian people. I assure you very well. we are even underground within the EPRDF and tell you- EPRDF is dead. TPLF is dead and doesn’t have any poer to take action. They run out of energy. We therefore need a smooth transition of power and transitional government to take over.

    Ethiopians problem is too minor and can easily be fixed. Out of ignorance and selfishness, we have been making it bigger. No, Very minor differences and challenges. Indeed, the poverty level is so severe that need to be addressed immediately. this needs first and for most, a change of the current government. It is now more working and it can’t further. If any person would like to share with us, let us know.
    We are Oromo groups working under “Ethiopia and her People first” great God is With us

    March 4, 2018 at 12:59 am

  4. I think your opinion is way off the mark.

    The confusion on numbers came from the speaker of the House who was supposed to know what Article 93 of the Constitution provides.

    For those of you who have not seen the said Article, below is a copy of it.

    “2. A state of emergency declared in accordance with sub Article 1(a) of this Article:

    (a) If declared when the House of Peoples’ Representatives is in session, the decree shall be submitted to the House within forty-eight hours of its declaration. The decree, if not approved by a two-thirds majority vote of members of the House of Peoples’ Representatives, shall be repealed forthwith.

    (b) . . .

    3. A state of emergency decreed by the Council of Ministers, if approved by the House of Peoples’ Representatives, can remain in effect up to six months. The House of Peoples’ Representatives may, by a two-thirds majority vote, allow the state of emergency proclamation to be renewed every four months successively.”

    This means there was no need for the Speaker of the House to call for vote to approve the decree declared by the Council of Ministers. Instead, since this is a new state of emergency decree, the vote should have been to reject it. The Constitution’s terminology is “not to approve”. Once MPs vote to reject the decree fails to meet the two-thirds vote required, the Speaker of the House should have declared the decree stands. Again to use the Constitution’s terminology, the Speaker should have simply announced that it not repealed.

    Since the MPs who voted against the decree are reportedly 88 which is way below the two-thirds vote required to repeal the decree, it automatically continues to be the law of the country. That’s why Article 93 (3) calls it Proclamation once it is published on the Negarit Gazeta by the president.

    The vote for “approval” which was not stipulated by the constitution but carelessly called for by the Speaker of the House is the source of all kinds of wrong allegations of vote rigging. I think the Speaker should have sought legal assistance on the matter before he moved the motion for votes or stopped by MPs on violation of procedure.

    As somebody said above, what is needed to have quorum in the house is a simple majority. Article 58(1) of the constitution confirms this. The presence of more than half of the members of the House is the presence of 50% +1. If 441 (now reportedly 490) out of 547 or 539 MPs were present at the session, they are well over 50%+1. To be exact, 50%+1 of 539 is 270 which would have been enough to conduct the session.

    All things considered, the decree has not been rejected and continues to be the law of the country.

    As the saying goes, rather than “cry on spilled milk”, the opposition might be better off if it works to increase the number of MPs who voted to reject the decree. Once the six months lapse and if the Council decides to continue with the state of emergency, it needs to obtain renewal of the proclamation by two-thirds vote of the House members. This time, it is vote for approval to renew as opposed to the first vote which was to reject. It is sad that the opposition is releasing misleading information that undermines its credibility rather than think in terms of six months and beyond.

    More importantly, it is necessary to realize that Article 93(4) gives the House a role in matters of enforcement of the state of emergency. The House can overlook if the Council of ministers have “all necessary power to protect the country’s peace and sovereignty, and to maintain public security, law and order.” All necessary power suggests some kind of limit on the possible use of unnecessary power.

    The House can also supervise if certain rights the constitution says cannot be suspended even under a state of emergency are actually suspended and force the Council to lift the suspension. The House is required by the constitution to establish a State of Emergency Inquiry Board with the power to make public the names of all individuals arrested with the reasons for their arrest; to inspect and follow up that no measure taken during the state of emergency is inhumane; to recommend corrective measures in case of inhumane treatment; to ensure the prosecution of perpetrators of inhumane acts; to submit its views to the House on a request to extend the duration of the state of emergency.

    So, what would the opposition do? Release false and misleading information just to make some people in the government mad or work within and out of the system for the betterment of the lives of people in the country?

    Let’s wait and see.

    Hinna Debela
    March 4, 2018 at 1:39 pm

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