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The House of People’s Representatives endorsed the state of emergency proclamation, despite a significant number of votes against the measure. During the extraordinary session on March 2, House Speaker Abadula Gemeda chaired the session.
The state of emergency, which has been in effect since it was endorsed by the Council of Ministers in mid-February, was first approved with 346 votes for 88 against and seven abstentions. Later the number was corrected to 395 votes
There were fears that the proclamation would be refuted by the representatives. When the speaker announced that the law was approved by a majority vote, it was accompanied by heavy applause from those who supported the endorsement.
Opposition leaders, especially those in the Diaspora were advocating for the parliament to vote against the state of emergency. According to the Speaker, because there were 8 of the 547 members not present 339 votes were needed for a two-thirds majority. There were concerns raised that 98 votes were of the 539 potential votes were unaccounted for. Only 441 votes were recorded during the session at first. However this number has also raised to 490 later.
This was confusing because most of the members attended the session. The outgoing PM and the potential future PM from OPDO did not attend but there were very few others who were absent, according to observers.
Before the parliament went to vote several questions and opinions on the proclamation were debated by members. One parliament member asked if the state of emergency period could be reduced to three months rather than six , but Attorney General Getachew Ambaye did not address that question..
The state of emergency proclamation suspended the practice of most of basic rights like peaceful demonstrations. Another member raised the issue of the upcoming local elections in May. The parliamentarian felt that this would limit the amount of campaigning people could engage in.
Getachew agreed that the state of emergency would affect the city elections but said it was crucial to bring peace to the country. He added that they would address the issue later.
A week ago Workneh Gebeyehu (PhD), Minister of Foreign Affairs, hinted that the martial law would be lifted when the new PM was elected.
A parliament board to oversee the emergency measures was also criticized by some of the members, but approved by majority vote, with nine against and 24 abstentions.
Most of the members served during the previous state of emergency period which ended last August. Tadess Hordofa, was tapped as chairman of the parliamentary board formed to oversee the emergency measures.
Many western nations have expressed concern about the state of emergency.