Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Ethiopia Member of Parliament" resigns in disgust

By Belete Etana Disassa

I am a member of parliament (MP) and deputy chairman of Public Account Standing Committee (PAC) of the House of Peoples' Representatives of Ethiopia, elected as a representative of Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO) from Limu Kossa District, Jimma zone, Oromia region.

I want to give my honest and sincere testimony of the conditions currently prevailing in Ethiopia. This testimony is in no way intended to defame the ruling party and its cohorts. The main purpose of this letter is to expose the hidden facts in Ethiopia.

Today in Ethiopia there is no democracy, rule of law, respect for human and civil rights. The judiciary system in totally under the control of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF). There is no justice and independent court proceeding.

If you are an MP, you are duty bound to ask questions. But if you ask questions, you are branded as OLF and you are a terrorist and a criminal. Article 54(5) of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) Constitution, states that “No member of the House may be prosecuted on account of any vote he cats or opinion he expresses in the House, nor shall any administrative action be taken against any member on such grounds.” But the person who asks the democratic and human rights of the people to be respected is automatically branded as OLF member, and I am one of the victim.

The EPRDF/TPLF regime is simply a dictatorship. It does not respect its own constitution. It murders, detains, tortures and arbitrary arrests innocent citizens. The regime is particularly on a campaign of detaining Oromo nationalists. Human rights abuses are common and a day to day activity of the regime, particularly in Oromia. Authorities imposed the new structures the “Garee” and “Goxii” system to monitor the speech and personal lives of the rural population, to restrict and control the movement of residents. If you oppose the system, you are thrown in prison to stay there for years without appearing before court.

Article 12 (1) and (2) of the FDRE constitution requires transparency and accountability but on the ground the fact is different. In 2008, from the 20 Federal Government Institutions, over 192.5 million birr was detected as deficit (misuse). From this money, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia account for the biggest share of improperly spent money. Expenditures of 560 million birr by Revenue Authority and 121.9 million birr by the Ethiopian Customs Authority have not been backed up by any document.

The Ethiopian Mapping Agency and Ministry of Mines and Energy billing customers without the proper tariff has been approved by the Council of Ministers. Furthermore, the former Ministry of Infrastructure has collected over 47.2 million birr annual fee with out any approved tariff.
Our finding also reveals that over 226.5 million birr worth of purchase by six institutions were not in accordance with the purchase manual of the government. The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has paid 98,000 birr to its former head as salary and allowance when the head was not at his position for 27 months.

The National Bank of Ethiopia on the recent gold scam reveals that contrary to the bank procedure, one individual has been supplying gold to the bank without registering. Package that contains the brick of gold has not been properly inspected after it was certified it was gold by the Ethiopian Geological Survey office. The bank has also paid the gold value without properly weighing it and has accepted 38 similar gold bricks that weigh the same and with equal carat levels.

The finding revealed illegal procurements, unlawful payments, spending beyond the allocated budget, and expenditure that could not be accounted for, amounting to more than 2.5 billion Birr. Also the government of improperly borrowing an extra 3.3 billion birr from banks. This borrowing has contributed to the inflation rate in the country.

Corruption remains a serious problem in the country. As to our responsibility to investigate this fact, the response of the government is to disparage and disqualify the activity. On the other hand, the government officials appeared to manipulate the privatization process, state and party owned businesses received preferential access and misuse of public funds.

Such misdeeds and crimes were causing me mental anguish for the last three years. I have been receiving death threats for speaking up against the wanton disregard for the rule of law. My conscience could no longer allow me to continue to be a member of the party, an MP and deputy hairman of PAC of the House. I have chosen to resign from the regime and its rubber stamp parliament.


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