Statement: Patriotic Ginbot 7 Movement for Unity and Democracy
The last three months (December, January and February) have been the most dramatic triplets of month in Ethiopia since the TPLF/EPRDF regime took power in May 1991. The seemingly endless EPRDF and member party meetings, the resignation of PM Haile Mariam Desalegn, and the proclamation of the second state of emergency (SOE) in as many years all took place between December 2017 and February 2018. The most dramatic of the three, the proclamation of the state of emergency, was approved by the Ethiopian parliament yesterday in the most bizarre way never heard and never seen in the history of parliamentary democracy.
The other eccentric drama that is uniquely Ethiopian is that, last week when news came out that the parliament will convene on March the second to approve the state of emergency, Ethiopians outside and inside the country flooded the email accounts and phone lines of their MPs asking them to disapprove the state of emergency. The TPLF/EPRDF regime strongly condemned such a healthy and necessary communication between the electorate and their representatives, and issued a press statement warning both MPs and the public to not participate in what is otherwise a pure legal and democratic process.
On March 2, 2018, the Ethiopian parliament convened and voted on the fate of the newly decreed state of emergency. To begin with, every vote related information that came out of the parliament yesterday was as confusing as the TPLF/EPRDF government itself was in the last three months. In his official announcement of the outcome of the voting process, the Speaker of the House said that, there were 539 MPs in the meeting out of which 346 MPs voted for the bill, 88 against the bill, and there were seven abstentions. These official numbers as stated by the Speaker have two serious fallacies: first of all, the numbers he mentioned add up to 441, not to 539 (the number of attendees he initially mentioned). Secondly, the 346 MPs who supported the bill do not constitute the constitutionally required two third majority of the parliament. Therefore, the state of emergency decreed by the Council of Ministers must have been annulled.
Just hours after the House mysteriously passed the state of emergency bill, another drama unfolded, and this time, the Deputy Communications Director of the parliament said that, there was a mistake in the official vote count, and he came up with another cooked-up number. According to his revised vote count, 395 MPs voted for the bill. Just for the record, how can a parliamentary vote count and recount vary by as much as 49 votes? There are many other important questions to be raised here. For example, why did the voting process that should have been transparent to the public took place behind the scene? Who should the Ethiopian people trust on what happens on the floor of the parliament? The Speaker of the House, the Deputy Communications Director of the parliament, or the executive branch of government? What about when all are flatly wrong?
The Ethiopian constitution stipulates that, the Council of Minister has the power to decree a state of emergency, but the decree will be nullified unless it gets a two third parliamentary support. The inexplicable issue here is neither the Speaker of the House nor the Deputy Communication Director of the parliament clearly told the public the total number of MPs present in yesterday’s meeting. Due to such lack of clarity, confusion and devious number manipulations by the TPLF/EPRDF government, a totally undeserved state of emergency is imposed on the Ethiopian people in the most unjustified manner.
Regardless of what happened in the parliament yesterday, the Ethiopian people have already defied the state of emergency, and continued their struggle for justice, freedom and democracy. And on the other hand, the regime’s security forces who take direct orders from the Command Post are mercilessly killing peaceful demonstrators, and the death toll in Ethiopia is rising at an alarming rate.
Patriotic Ginbot 7 once again reminds the Ethiopian people to firmly stand together and continue the struggle until freedom, justice, and democracy are parts of everyday life in Ethiopia. Patriotic Ginbot 7 strongly believes that when people peacefully ask for justice, the answer should be justice, not violence and more injustice. The international community, especially western governments who are making a futile effort to save the inevitably dying regime must understand that what saves Ethiopia from disintegrating and becoming another Somalia is an all-inclusive transitional process, not yet another state of emergency.
Victory to the Ethiopian people!
Patriotic Ginbot 7 Movement for Unity and Democracy.
March 2, 2018