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By our staff reporter
Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn responded to queries from members of the House of Peoples’ Representatives during its last session held on Monday July 7. He talked about next year’s election and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and Egypt’s position. The house also unanimously approved the next year’s budget.
Hailemariam spoke at parliament, hinting at a new chapter of mending fences between the two Nile-basin nations.
Hailemariam’s remarks came to show a thaw in ties between the two countries after they agreed last month to resume tripartite talks – also including Sudan – to discuss the construction of the massive dam.
The understanding came after Hailemariam agreed with recently-elected Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi during late June’s African summit in Malabo to resume talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
“The tripartite talks will not be simple and we expect some tough proposals from the Egyptian side,” Hailemariam said. “Ethiopia will keep its calm and follow through the tripartite engagement.”
Set up in 2011, a tripartite technical committee was tasked with studying the impact of the multibillion-dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the two downstream countries.
The tripartite agreement is expected to resume on July 21.
It is up to the Ethiopian people to make sure that the forthcoming national elections in 2015 are held peacefully, Hailemariam Desalegn has said.
He said the government is playing its part to actively engage the public in the whole process from pre to post elections.
The government is working with a commitment to make the elections free, fair and democratic, he said, and urged contesting political parties to contribute their share by operating as per the electoral code of conduct.
According to him, the governing and opposition parties as well as the actors in the election, therefore play an irreplaceable role in making the election democratic, fair and free.
The Political Parties’ National Joint Council is undertaking activities in this regard, he said, and called on non-members to adhere to thereby making the elections flawless.
In case there are forces that are planning to ruin the elections, the government will interfere to maintain law and order, he said.
He urged all stakeholders including the public, National Electoral Board of Ethiopia and political parties to play their part in making the elections faultless.
The parliament has also approved the 178.6 billion birr budget for 2014/15 fiscal year, a 15 percent increase from the previous year boosting the spending on education, health and roads.
The budget, unanimously endorsed by MPs, allocates more than 64 percent of the total amount for development. Of that, the government will spend 24.55 billion birr on education, up from 22.48 billion the previous year.
Health spending will rise 12 percent to 5.15 billion birr and 29 billion birr will be spent on road building.
Defence spending increased to 8 billion birr, from 7.5 billion.