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Legislative Floor Hosts Rhetoric War

May 5 , 2020


Some MPs were keen in a war of words over the postponement of the elections proposed by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), chaired by Birtukan Mideksa, who told the public broadcasting service today that no one but the Board has the constitutional mandate to carry out elections.


Ethiopia's legislative floor has never seen such verbal brawling among its members as it did today. In a session convened to pass a motion on the fate of the upcoming elections, the rhetorical crossfire was unlike anything displayed in the past 20 years.

Close to 340 MPs witnessed the dustup, which mostly involved MPs representing the TPLF against other members, including the chairperson of a standing committee who said he sees TPLFs as "treasonous.”

Tesfaye Daba, the chairperson for Foreign Relations & Peace Standing Committee of the parliament, said he considers the latest decision by the TPLF to hold a regional election as “a traitor's move.” He also used a local aphorism, “don't sound holier-than-thou,” to express his frustration with the TPLFites, who blamed the Prosperity Party (PP) for pushing a constitutional interpretation in order to perpetuate its rule.

Some MPs were involved in a war of words over the postponement of the elections proposed by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), chaired by Birtukan Mideksa, who told the public broadcasting service today that no one but the Board has the constitutional mandate to carry out elections. Nonetheless, it is unable to conduct polling at the end of August as planned due to COVID-19. The Legal, Justice & Administration Affairs Standing Committee, which reviewed the Board's proposal, passed a motion requesting constitutional interpretation from the House of Federation.


MPs representing the TPLF pushed back against the motion and strongly resisted the need for constitutional interpretation and rescheduling the polling date. It led to emotional outbursts and an animated debate, accompanied by proverbial remarks among the legislators.

An MP from the TPLF characterized constitutional interpretation as "bait laid by the Prosperity Party to extend its regime." He views the move as a convenient ploy to justify a desire for self-preservation.

It was a remark that earned a sharp rebuff from a Prosperity Party MP who described it saying “ignorance is bliss” and shot back that the TPLFites were “putting on an act” by claiming that the election should be held for the benefit of the people.

The session today saw a heated debate among the MPs and ended with voting in favour of constitutional interpretation as the way forward to decide the fate of the upcoming elections, but with 25 votes in opposition.


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