Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and Tagesse Chafo, speaker of parliament, sit side by side at the second annual meeting of the parliament on October 22, 2019.

Last Tuesday, October 22, 2019, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) was in the House of People's Representatives for the fifth-year, second regular meeting to pass a motion on an agenda presented to both Houses by President Sahle-Work Zewde on October 7, 2019, outlining the government’s direction for the fiscal year.

Out of the 547 representatives, 375 attended the meeting and 16 members threw questions at the Prime Minister. Sahle-Work had highlighted the current situation of the country and listed the government’s plans to stabilise the political, social and economic challenges.

Sahle-Work identified preserving and broadening political and economic activities to be more inclusive, redressing mistakes committed in the past and guarding the interests and benefits of the coming generation as the core objectives of the government.

In addition, maintaining the unity of the country and ensuring the dignity and prosperity of the Ethiopian people were the overarching goals mentioned by the President.

Based on her speech, representatives sent their questions in writing on October 11, 2019,  and requested an explanation from the Prime Minister.

The majority of the questions focused on internal regional tensions, illegal gun trafficking, the 2020 election, the EPRDF coalition, displaced citizens and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The Prime Minister gave an assurance that the government will make an all-out effort to hold a fair and free election, though he intimated that it is not easy to conduct an error-free one. Some individuals are playing out a drama and working toward disrupting the peace between neighboring regions, said the Prime Minister at the second regular meeting.

He also said the government is working on projects like a bread factory, which is estimated to supply 10 million loaves of bread a day with the financial support of the King of the United Arab Emirates.

The delay of the construction of GERD created the current tension between Ethiopia and Egypt. If it was completed on time, it would not have been an issue, said Abiy.

Concerning the EPRDF coalition, the Prime Minister explained that at the last general assembly of the Front in Awassa, members agreed to complete the coalition process before their next meeting if all goes according to plan.

Abiy insisted that there were issues on the timeline but discussions are being held on how to achieve the coalition.

The Prime Minister also asserted that there is a difference between government and party, and they are not expected to agree on every issue.

Abeba Yoseph, a member of the parliament, raised a question on the role of the media in the coming election.

“Media should never be an instrument for hate speech and pushing political agendas,” said Abeba to Fortune.

It is important to work under the Broadcasting Service Proclamation to the betterment of the country, she added .

For the first time since 2015, a motion was met with an objection. There was one objection on the motion, while 19 abstain from supporting it.

It is not usual to see an objection on a supporting motion said Girma Seifu, a former parliamentarian and politician. "It would have been good to know why these members abstained and made an objection,” said Girma.

The politician also expected the issue of road blocking to be discussed in detail by the Prime Minister, but it was not mentioned as much as it should have been. "We might be able to see some differences of ideas in this year’s parliamentary session if EPRDF does in fact become a single party,” added Girma.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 26,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1017]

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