Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), the largest opposition party in Ethiopia led by the recently released Dr. Merera Gudina, says it rejects Ethiopia’s reinstated state of emergency on the basis that it is “unconstitutional” and that it has no legal merit that necessitated its declaration.
In a statement it released yesterday, OFC also said it will sue the government because the procedures followed before the decree was ratified bear no legal and constitutional standing. The statement called the parliamentary proceeds of the ratification of the emergency rule “sad” and described the chaotic vote announcement of the results as “rigged.”
Speaking to the BBC, Bekele Gerba, first secretary of the OFC who was released three weeks ago, said,”both the declaration and the parliament’s ratification of the state of emergency have trespassed constitutionalism and can be legally liable. Because we believe the country is governed by the rule of law, we will have lawyers to take the matter to a court,” Bekele said.
OFC’s statement stands in contrast with other opposition parties which were quoted by several state run media as endorsing the emergency rule, which was first announced by the council of ministers on Feb. 16.
Leaders of the All Ethiopians National Movement, Coalition for Unity and Democracy Party, Ethiopian Democratic Unity Movement, and New Generation Party were all quoted by the Ethiopian News Agency as saying they welcomed the approval of the state of emergency proclamation.
The OFC statement did not only reject the emergency decree but also adopted a four point resolution cautioning the federal government not to govern the Ethiopian people using an emergency rule; calling on the public to continue their peaceful resistance; warning that only the EPRDF led government should take full responsibility for any kind of violation of the rule of law and damages to the people of Ethiopia due to the implementation of the state of emergency; and finally calling for the support from Ethiopians in and outside the country, the security establishment, regional governments, international community and others to stand with the party in order to take Ethiopia out of the current crisis.
OFC’s statement came amid Oromia-wide three days strike called by online activists to protest against the news of the state of emergency, which the speaker of the house of people’s representatives (Ethiopian parliament) said was approved by the majority in the house, albeit marred by a “mathematical error”, which led to the speaker to apologize.
Over the weekend, protests have flared up in various cities across Oromia against the news, leading to the death of more than a dozen people so far. Scores of businesses, civil service offices and schools have been shuttered in various cities and town across Oromia since yesterday while transport services to and from the capital Addis Abeba as well as other major cities have been affected.
The party’s senior leadership, including Dr. Merera Gudina and Bekele Gerba, chairman and first secretary respectively, Gurmesa Ayano, the youth league chairman, Dejene Taffa, deputy secretary general and Addisu Bulala, Secretary of the party’s youth league, were held for more than seven hours by federal security forces in Gute town, near Nekemt, in western Ethiopia on their way to greet and thank their supporters after all of them were released from prison. They were held and were prevented to hold their programs due to the state of emergency, which suspended a host of civil liberties including the right to a public gathering.