New beginnings, vibrant parliament

 Ethiopians go to polls to elect their representatives for the two decisive houses every five years: The House of Peoples’ Representatives and the House of Federation. The party which got the majority of votes also forms a new government and taps different officials for respective posts. In June, Ethiopia successfully held its 6th national election with the ruling Prosperity Party winning the polls by a landslide.

Before the inauguration of the new government and in a bid to improve its performance, the House of Peoples’ Representatives has been undertaking various activities. Announcing the finalization of preparations, Speaker of the Ethiopian House of Peoples’ Representatives Tagesse Chaffo said that a wide range of reform activities have been put in place to make the house vibrant and discharge its duties efficiently.

The reform activities are meant to advance the House’s performance in legislating laws, supervising the executive bodes, and others. For the effect, it will extend the number of standing committees from 7 to 13 and members will be assigned according to their respective skills and experience. In addition to this, the house also inaugurated digital tools and apps that would help citizens to have better access to information regarding the work of the parliament. The technologies also help reduce expenditure and save time.

According to Speaker Tagesse, the technological expansion especially the e-library is vital to archive various documents of the house and create a comfortable environment for researchers who would have the interest to study the work of the house.

Given all the preparation, the house speaker was optimistic that Ethiopia will be in a position to overcome the challenges it is facing and achieve its development goals through public participation. He added the newly formed parliament would have a true representation of Ethiopia and its aspiration.

Finally, the House held its first plenary session of the sixth house on October 4, 2021. The session began by reappointing Tagesse Chaffo as Speaker of the House with a majority vote. Likewise, Lommi Beddo was tapped into the Deputy Speakership position.

The other house which has the power to interpret the constitution and handle constitutional disputes has also picked its speakers similarly. The House of Federation elected the former Amhara Regional State Chief, Agegnehu Teshager as Speaker and Zahara Umud as Deputy Speaker.

All MPs of the House vowed to undertake their responsibilities as representatives of the public in line with the constitution, their conscience, and the will of the people. They also signed on papers to show their commitments, which will be seen along with the next five years of tenure.

On the occasion, President Sahlework Zewde addressed the joint session of the Houses of Peoples’ Representatives and Federation with a speech that touched a range of issues. President Sahlework urged both houses and government to exert more effort and make the year defining in laying the foundation for the nation’s aspiration of democracy and prosperity.

The president was loud and clear in her speech on the need for creating a politically united and strong country. She said the means to assume public office is only the ballot box. If this trend sustains, she highlighted, there won’t be a room for aggressors in the internal affairs of the nation. So, democratic culture should continue to flourish through dialogue. Accordingly, she urged all Ethiopians to support national dialogue and reconciliation efforts that will be spearheaded by the government. “We, Ethiopians, should cultivate our pre-existing values such as tolerance, honesty, a culture of discussion and debate, cooperation and unity among ourselves.”

She also spoke about the nation’s foreign policy and reminded us that Ethiopia’s foreign policy will be focused on ensuring country’s interest, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. She went on to say the current generation will repeat the commitment of forefathers who had exerted relentless efforts by sacrificing their lives to keep the national interest and sovereignty of the beloved motherland. She has also mentioned the plan to establish a people-to-people forum with neighboring countries to maximize mutual interdependence. “We need to work together with neighboring nations and institutions to ensure our interest in the area. Achieving social, cultural, economic, and political interests is our cornerstone in our relationship with countries in the region.”

Ethiopia will strengthen mutual ties with all countries in the continent by giving priority to neighboring ones based on ensuring sustainable peace, economic cooperation, and mutual prosperity, she indicated.

President Sahlework’s speech also gave equal focus on evaluating economic progress during the past three years and hinting at future plans of government in the economic sphere. The president said economic reforms that happened the past three years were generally successful amid natural and artificial incidents. She exalts as the government’s reform package stirred the economy that was making a downturn journey. However, inflation and unemployment have continued demanding urgent solutions.

Among notable achievements she mentioned, the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is the leading. She said that the previous year was a year that Ethiopia realized the second filling. Ethiopians from all walks of life contributed to the dam in various ways such as in the sphere of diplomacy, construction, and financial contribution. This helped to withstand foreign pressure and expedite the construction. So, it is through the struggle of every Ethiopian the filling and general construction became possible.

She also gave direction on future targets of government in the economic sphere. According to her, Ethiopia would focus on containing the rising inflation, creating jobs, and encouraging entrepreneurship. For this effect, the government would press on the manufacturing sector, construction sector, and tourism. As government reduces expenditure by encouraging local manufacturing and it also planned to generate revenue through promoting tourism. This would sustain Ethiopia’s macroeconomic growth; balance of demand and supply thereby would ease life. The nation would also sustain its achievement in increasing forest coverage and prevent deforestation and eradication of biodiversity.

The other event with great significance was the nomination of the Prime Minister that would lead Ethiopia for the upcoming five years. According to the constitution nomination of the prime minister comes from the party with majority seats. Hence, Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonen presented the president of Prosperity Party Abiy Ahmed and he was then directly ratified as Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power three years ago when the nation was seeing a wave of protest against the government. Premier Abiy managed to calm down the protest by introducing sweeping political and economic reforms. The attempt yielded a good result as he gained massive public support. It also helped his new party to get a majority of seats in the June election. Consequently, he retained his position as prime minister for the coming five years. For many people, these five years would be significant as the government is expected to sustain its reform and realize its pledge of peace and prosperity. This is what the premier wished: to build a peaceful, strong, democratic, and prosperous nation. As an active parliament plays a big share in checking, controlling, and guiding government for the cause, Ethiopians expect the new members of parliament to be different. And, the start was promising, as members of the parliament were giving their constructive ideas free of limit.



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