Relations between Ethiopia's federal government and the northern Tigray region have been deteriorating after the latter unilaterally held elections last September in defiance of the central government's decision to postpone national polls due to Covid-19.
Now the Upper House of the Federal Parliament has voted to exclude the region from official matters on the floor. The House of Federation (HoF) imposed a range of harsh measures, including budget cuts, against the region.
The move by HoF comes only one day after TPLF, the ruling Tigray People's Liberation Front in the region, ordered its members working in various federal government positions, including 38 of its members in Parliament, to resign and return to the headquarters.
TPLF argued that its members can no longer be a part of a government which has extended its mandate "illegally and unconstitutionally".
Tigrayian leaders have strongly been protesting against extension of the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed led government which would have ended on October 5.
Previously, TPLF has vowed to end its relationship with the central government after October 5.
The central government has declared Tigray elections "null and void".
Although Abiy has ruled out military action to stop the election, government officials and ethnic Tigrayian opposition parties have been calling upon the government to take punitive measures against the newly-elected regional government.
As well as subsidiary budget cuts, the House of Federation has decided to cut ties with the Tigray regional government, which the federal government says is operating illegally.
It has also banned all federal institutions from making any contacts with the newly-formed regional council and executive branch.
TPLF leaders have immediately rubbished the decisions by the House.
They said the House, which extended its mandate "unconstitutionally", has no legal grounds to pass such "unacceptable" decisions.
"Currently, the Cabinet, including the prime minister, as well as
members of the House of People's Representatives and the House of Federation, have no legal authority," TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda told BBC Amharic.
"It is unlikely that there would be any legal relationship with these bodies," he said, adding: "Any political decision from those bodies under federal government will not be recognised in Tigray."
The former Ethiopian Communication Minister further went on to say that Tigray State will continue its relations only with the judiciary, the army, the diplomatic missions and various social and economic services until the "country gets a chance to form a government in the right way".
The Speaker of the House of Federation, Mr Adam Farah, told local media a
few days ago that "the State has so far endangered the constitution" and that there is a constitutional basis for action.
Per the decision of the Upper House, the federal government liaises only with the "legal institutions" in the Tigray state, including the city and Kebele administrations, to deal with the region's development and basic service needs.
Implementation of these decisions will be monitored by the Speaker of the House of Federation and the relevant standing committees of the House.