Inquiry Council Recommends Term Extension for Upper, Lower Chambers Until Next Election
House of Federation will convene for meeting tomorrow to discuss the recommendations
June 9 , 2020
(Addis Fortune) — The Council of Constitutional Inquiry has recommended extending the terms of members of parliament, the House of Federation and regional councils as well as federal and regional executives until the state of emergency is lifted and the upcoming elections are held.
Chaired by Chief Justice Meaza Ashenafi, the Council also recommended the general elections be held within nine to 12 months after the Ministry of Health, the Ethiopian Public Health Institute and the science community are assured that the pandemic no longer poses a risk to public health and the parliament approves their suggestion.
The House of Federation, which has 153 members, is expected to hold a session tomorrow to discuss the two suggestions forwarded by the Council. The Council has been gathering legal opinions from experts to forward the motions to the House since the issue was referred by the parliament last month.
Following the recommendations from the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) for the extension of the general elections, the parliament referred the question of constitutional interpretation to the House of Federation to decide the fate of the upcoming election. The sixth general elections were set to be held by the end of August, and the result was also set to be announced between August 30 and September 8, 2020.
However, the Electoral Board has proposed the postponement of the election due to the effects of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the restrictions on public gatherings imposed by the state of emergency that would be an obstacle for the Board.
During the session when the parliament voted for the constitutional interpretation option as the way forward to decide the fate of the election, 25 members, mainly from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), voted against the option. Last week, the Central Committee of the TPLF released a statement denouncing the proposal of the Electoral Board to postpone the national elections and affirming its decision to hold elections at the regional level. TPLF’s statement also denounced parliament’s decision to refer the question of constitutional interpretation to the House of Federation. It sees it as a constitutional manipulation to cling onto power by the incumbent Prosperity Party.
“It has unilaterally postponed the 2020 national elections and has eventually started manipulating the Constitution . . . with the intention indefinitely prolonging its reign in power,” said a statement issued last week by the Tigray Regional State, addressed to the international community.
Keria Ibrahim, who was the speaker of the House of Federation for the past two years, resigned from her position yesterday, June 8, 2020, describing the measures taken at the federal level as “unconstitutional.”