Dispute over Ethiopia emergency rule vote after footage posted online – Reuters

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Dispute over Ethiopia emergency rule vote after footage posted online

(Aaron Maasho)

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Footage of an Ethiopian parliamentary session posted online on Saturday appeared to contradict official reports of the number of votes cast to validate the state of emergency, though government officials dismissed the discrepancy as a mistake.

FILE PHOTO – Abadula Gemeda, Speaker of the Parliament addresses an extraordinary meeting on the state of emergency in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 2, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

On Friday, the House of People’s Representatives held an emergency session on state of emergency legislation imposed on Feb. 16, a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s surprise resignation.

The state-run Ethiopian News Agency said on Friday that 395 lawmakers voted in favour of the bill, putting the government comfortably within the two-thirds majority needed to validate the state of emergency, which bans demonstrations and restricts publications that could incite violence.

But footage made public by the privately-owned Addis Standard news website showed parliamentary speaker Abadula Gemeda stating at the end of the session that 346 parliamentarians had voted in favour.

Abadula also appeared to have made a mathematical mistake, saying 339 was the required two-thirds of 539 seats.

In fact, a vote of 346 would be below the threshold needed if the two-thirds rule applied to the total number of seats, rather than the number of parliamentarians present. It was not clear from the constitution how the two-thirds rule was meant to be applied.

The discrepancies sparked claims of vote fraud from the opposition.

FILE PHOTO: Former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn

“It is nothing less than rigging – another example of the workings of the ruling party,” Beyene Petros, an opposition party leader and former parliamentarian, told Reuters.

Speaking to state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation late on Saturday, parliamentary speaker Abadula said 395 was the correct number of votes in favour of the legislation.

The dispute could become yet another battleground in a country where unrest was triggered over land rights, before broadening into protests over marginalisation.

After years of anti-government protests, diplomats are closely watching developments in Ethiopia, a Western ally in the fight against Islamist militancy, the region’s biggest and fastest growing economy, and Africa’s second most-populous nation.

The government has struggled to placate simmering anger among the country’s two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara, who complain that they are under-represented in the country’s corridors of power.

The prime minister’s resignation followed two years of anti-government protests in which security forces killed hundreds of people in Oromiya province, the country’s most populous region.

The ruling EPRDF’s council is expected to announce Hailemariam’s successor next week following a vote, with many analysts expecting an Oromo to take the reins.

Editing by Katharine Houreld and Robin Pomeroy
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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One thought on “Dispute over Ethiopia emergency rule vote after footage posted online – Reuters

  1. Two thirds of the votes in the parliaments is calculated based on the total no. of seats (voters) in the parliament, i.e., 547, which is365. The 2/3rd requirement is not conditional on the number of voters who attend a meeting, rather it is fixed. Since the 2/3rd is fixed, at least three-fourth of members of the parliament should attend in meeting s so that the bills could get the 365 yes votes and get passed. Thus, regardless of our knowledge of the no. parliamentarians needed to make the quorum legitimate to hold every meeting in the parliament, 346 voted yes out of the 441 PMs who attended the meeting. However, the required yes votes is 365 (2/3) out of the 547 votes in the parliament. As such, the draft bill is repealed forthwith for failing to meet the constitutional requirement set forth in Article 93 (Declaration of State of Emergency), sub article 2 (a) such that:

    ‘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.’

    Let lawyers help us know in detail about this and other similar issues. Thanks.


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