The House of Federation has delegated the Council of Ministers to assess and outline the details on how the federal government will directly communicate with local institutions in Tigray Regional State. Early last week, the upper house decided that the federal government should only communicate with kebeles, weredas and city-level administrations, bypassing the regional government.
Among the decisions passed by the House was cutting its budgetary subsidies to the Regional State and banning all federal institutions from communicating and providing support to Tigray’s higher executive bodies. The Regional State was also prohibited from participating in national level forums.
This decision is the latest following the disputed regional election that took place in September 2020. Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) secured 189 of 190 seats in the region’s cabinet during the election.
TPLF could try to create an obstacle in work between the federal government and local institutions like kebeles, weredas,and city-level administrations as it provides basic services to the region, according to Speaker of the House, Adem Farah.
“I believe that kebele, weredaand city-level officials will stand with the people and keep in touch with the federal government,” he told Fortune. “Tigray people have a right to the support of the federal government.”
The government is refraining from deploying the Federal Police or the National Defense Force to the state, considering the consequence for the people of Tigray, according to the Speaker.
“The House took this decision as the regional cabinet lacks a legal personality,” he said. “The newly elected regional parliament is illegal and unconstitutional.”
A way out from this problem is in the hands of TPLF through respecting the Constitution and reinstating the former assembly and cabinet in place, according to Adem.
The federal government had postponed general elections that were set to be held at the end of August 2020, following a declaration of a state of emergency due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“If the federal government implemented its illegal and illegitimate budget subsidy cut to Tigray, then the State will manage its income from taxes on its own,” said Getachew Reda, advisor to the Regional State’s president and member of TPLF.
For the current fiscal year, the parliament has approved a 10.4-billion-Br budget subsidy for Tigray Regional State, a rise from 8.3 billion Br approved during the previous fiscal year. For the current fiscal year, the Regional State has approved an 18-billion-Br budget.
“The parliament and the House of Federation, as well as the Council of Ministers, no longer have authority. The laws, regulations and directives issued won’t be applicable after October 5, 2020,” Getachew said. “The House of Federation and the premier himself are not mandated to issue any decision. Who is Adem? I don’t know him; he is illegitimate.”
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Sisay Mengiste (PhD), a lecturer of law at Addis Abeba University, believes that the decision to postpone national elections was right.
Continuing to work with local institutions to provide basic services to the region could face challenges, because the officials are likely to be appointees of TPLF, according to Sisay.
“It doesn’t mean that the decision of the House is completely unimplementable,” Sisay told Fortune, “but these officials could get themselves in between the federal and the Regional State, though I don’t think that they will obstruct the process of development in receiving the budget.”
The solution to ending the existing problem is only through discussion, according to the legal expert, who cited the American Civil War, which cost over 600,000 lives, as something the country should avoid.