Ethiopia’s Council of Constitutional Inquiry working on Interpretation

Constitutional inquiry _ Meaza
President of Federal High Court, Meaza Ashenafi. Photo credit : ENA/file

borkena
May 14, 2020

The Council of Constitutional Inquiry announced on Thursday that is working on Constitutional Interpretation request from the House of People’s Representatives of the Federal government of Ethiopia.

The parliament made the request in early May after the majority of parliamentarians voted for Constitutional Interpretation as a better legal option to deal with the issue of extending the national election which was scheduled to take place in August 2010.

In a media brief, Meaza Ashenafi, President of the Federal Courts, said that the task is given a priority and that the Council is working on it diligently, as reported by state media – Ethiopian News Agency.  

Constitutional lawyers and other legal experts are taking part in the work, she added.

“Members of the council have been working responsibly and independently,” ENA quoted her as saying. And she seems to be confident, based on the ENA report, that the outcome of the interpretation will demonstrate “the neutrality and fairness of the process.”

The council has disclosed, via Meaza Ashenafi, an intent to hold a public hearing on Saturday and Monday.

Three articles of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia will be interpreted in the process to see if the Ethiopian government can extend the election, and if so, under what circumstances.  Article 54 (1)  “Members of the House of People’s Representatives shall be elected by the People for a term of five years on the basis of universal suffrage and by direct, free, and fair elections held by secret ballot,” Article 58, (2) “The House of People’s Representatives shall be elected for a term of five years. Elections for a new House shall be concluded one month prior to the expiry of the House’s term,” and  Article 93 of the constitutions which explains declaration and execution of states of emergency are among the articles up for interpretation by the council.

After the Ethiopian parliament endorsed the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) decision that it is unable to go ahead with the national election in August due to Coronavirus, the House debated four legal options to extend the general election and voted in favor of constitutional interpretation.

State of Emergency, Constitutional amendment, and dissolving parliament were other options considered by the Ethiopian parliament.



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