Where do we go from here?

It has been almost six months since the announcement of the state of emergency, following the widespread unrest in the country. The public is waiting to hear from the government regarding the next step. It still is not clear whether the state of emergency will continue or be revoked. In a recent announcement, Siraj Fegessa, minister of defense, detailed the changes that have been made to certain articles of the state of emergency.

Many of the articles stipulated in the state of emergency have been banned a little earlier than its six-month duration period. The executing official Siraj Fegessa, minister of defense has spelled out article after article, which are going to be written off subject to the final decision of the Parliament.

In the biannual performance report of his government to the Parliament, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has, among other things, addressed the Command Post’s executive decisions to write off a number of the articles in the Emergency Proclamation. His rationale for this emanates from his convictions that peace and tranquility have settled down to near normalcy. He is believed to have made a thorough assessment of the general situations at present in the country.

Hailemariam has, however, revealed that in an opinion assessment of public discussion some 82pc of the public opted for extending the emergency period. Many listeners believe that the Prime Minister has proven to be consistently inconsistent. Notwithstanding the responsibilities assigned to Siraj Fegessa people find it difficult to take the Prime Minister’s percentage assumptions at face value. One member of the competing party has asked if people with their right minds ever will choose to remain in bondage.

In this process, the image of the country is being affected and human rights are not in a good situation. Following the state of emergency and the election of American President Trump, and his erratic politics, this might prompt a financial support cut-back. This, of course, is yet to be seen.

Whether or not people or opposition parties agree with the Prime Minister’s assessment, the need for an Emergency Proclamation should not be based on popularity. It should be based on threats on the country or if there are fears that violence will occur soon.

The situation may be assessed further at least for the next month after which Hailemariam will come back to report his assessments. The state of emergency may or may not be extended. Many of the well-known international press have already started altering the country’s image. Some still grind the Prime Minister’s repeated claim that the country is making a double-digit rapid growth.

This whole debacle started back in 2016, when a cultural event known as Irrecha was taking place in Bishoftu. The armed forces flying helicopters could have a clear view of the unfinished work down below from their vantage positions. Bishoftu was full of people on horseback and on foot numbering over a million at a conservative estimate. A stampede started up in the crowd, leading to the spraying of tear gas. The situation turned deadly and many people lost their lives. The ensuing chaos led to a widespread unrest, with fires being started and properties being destroyed, especially of foreign investors engaged in horticulture.

The Emergency Proclamation was a belated measure. It was taken to gain control back, as things started to escalate in the country. The second point pertains to the need for such an emergency proclamation and the establishment of the Command Post. The Command Post was set up to oversee the administration of the State of Emergency, and the security situation of the country.

The Ruling Party and the executive powers of the Party declared a deeper self-assessment and came up with their findings and told the people that the causes of the problem are rent collecting, maladministration and corruption. The Prime Minister in his address to Parliament last week revealed that a hundred million Birr had not been accounted for; it somehow just vanished into thin air. His performance report was exhaustive and loaded with statistical figures he used to compare performances of percentage data either plus or minus depending on what takes place in the fluctuating global economy. Accordingly, we shall be waiting for his report as he comes back to the Parliament again.

What is next for the country? With the recent unpredictability that is evident, it leaves the public with more questions. Another round of a state of emergency might not be the answer.

By Girma Feyissa

Published on Mar 25,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 881]



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