By Etenesh Abera
Addis Abeba, March 04/2018 – In a televised interview with the state run EBC, Abadula Gemeda, speaker of the house of people’s representative (Ethiopian parliament) has apologized for erring the vote counting on the parliament’s approval of the controversial state of emergency.
The speaker’s apology came after Addis Standard published a video of him announcing the results of the vote inside the parliament, which contracted the final announcement of the news that the State of emergency was approved by a two-thirds majority of the members of parliament. The chaotic event led many news organizations, which first reported the 346 number of parliamentarians who voted in support of the state of emergency as per the original announcement by the speaker, to alter the number to 395 afterward, sparking controversy until Addis Standard published the actual footage of the video.
Appearing in the evening news of the national television yesterday, the speaker said he made a mistake in the counting of the vote, but defended that the procedure was “democratic”. He also said that the parliament’s debate has helped improve the text of the state of emergency to add more clarity regarding inviolable rights and cost implications.
The 346 number that he announced was “my mathematical error…” Abadula said, adding “as the speaker of the house I would like to apologize.” Abadula also said the number of attendees were 490 , a number corroborated by a clip from a news bulletin by OBN television, and not what would have been the total tally of the result announced by him, which is 441.
However, by the time the speaker’s apology hit the national TV screen, there were already several protests against the news of the state of emergency in various cities in Oromia, the region from where the majority of MP’s who opposed the emergency decree and those who did not show up come from. DW Amharic reported in its evening bulletin last night that three people were killed by security forces in Ambo city, 125 km west of Addis Abeba and a hotbed of anti-government protests. The portal also reported protests in Ginchi, 81 km on the same route as Ambo, where the 2015 Oromo protests have begun. DW quoted residents who said the cities and towns were under heavy military lock-down. The state run EBC also said there were reports of conflicts and property damages, and said it would provide full details but has not provided further details as of yet. Online activists also said protests in various cities in western Ethiopia were happening. Internet and phone services in most parts of the country outside of the capital are still disabled.