Ethiopian MPs to cut short recess to discuss state of emergency

Tuesday February 15 2022
Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed greets ministers and MPs after addressing Parliament in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (left) greets ministers and MPs after addressing Parliament in Addis Ababa during a past session. PHOTO | FILE | AFP


Ethiopia's House of People's Representatives is set to meet on Tuesday to debate and decide on whether to lift a nationwide state of emergency imposed for six months.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has called parliamentarians for an emergency meeting, recalling them back from recess that was meant to last until end of February, says the Ethiopian Insider, a local news outlet.

MPs usually take a break in February and between July and the end of September.

Tuesday’s call for the emergency meeting comes one day after US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield, began his official visit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

However, it is not yet clear whether Addis Ababa's call for the emergency meeting is linked to the envoy’s arrival.

According to the US State of Department, during his two-day visit from February 13-14 Satterfield was slated to hold meetings with Ethiopian government, African Union, and United Nations officials, as well as representatives of humanitarian organisations.


Ethiopia's state of emergency was imposed on November 2 after the proscribed group Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF), who are fighting government and its allies, took control of several towns outside the Tigray region and advanced towards Addis Ababa.

The national decree was initially imposed for six months. However, after TPLF forces retreated from several areas of the Amhara region, the Ethiopian cabinet some three weeks ago decided the lift of the state of emergency and forwarded its decision to parliament for approval.

Ethiopia's cabinet then approved lifting of the state of emergency ahead of its expiration in what it argued was due to a progress achieved in security conditions in the country.

“Now we have reached a stage where threats can be neutralised through regular law enforcement mechanisms,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's office said in a statement late in January in support to the cabinet's proposal.

The emergency meeting also came amid diplomatic efforts to end the 15-months-long ongoing conflict in parts of Ethiopia's north.

The UN last Wednesday expressed hope that the ongoing peace talks between the Ethiopian government and Tigray leaders would lead to an end to the conflict.

After visiting the war-torn regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar, UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed said last week that there are promising developments in the talks, and discussions between the warring factions are “less hostile”.

“We are definitely in a better position right now. There are more discussions,” Ms Mohammed told reporters at a news conference in Addis Ababa.

“There is certainly less hostility than there was a few months ago.”

Since, the fighting between forces loyal to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the TPLF broke out in November 2020, an estimated 9.4 million people in northern Ethiopia's Tigray, Amhara, and Afar regions are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

Millions more are also suffering from severe food shortages, acute malnutrition is rising, and diseases and chronic illnesses are left untreated.

The ongoing civil war in Ethiopia has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and displaced millions from their homes.