Alert: Ethiopia again delays its national election amid deadly ethnic tensions, other challenges; no new date set
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Ethiopia again delays its national election amid deadly ethnic tensions, other challenges; no new date set.
Why Ethiopia postponed national elections again
Chair of NEBE Birutkan Mideksa announced the postponement of the election in a statement on Saturday following a meeting with political party representatives. Mideksa said logistical problems that could not be addressed were responsible for the postponement, noting that there had been delays in the delivery of ballot papers across the country.While Mideksa did not announce a new date for the election, she noted that the electoral body would take into consideration ‘the onset of the rainy season,’ among other things. Although the NEBE consequently said the postponement would be for two to three weeks, it did not fix a definite date for the elections.
Before now, there had been worries, most from international organisations, concerning the viability of the election and its freedom and fairness. The United States Department spokesperson Ned Price had urged the Ethiopian government to ensure the respect of assembly of persons, freedom of speech, political participation, among others, if the election must hold as scheduled.
These worries emanated from the rising violence in the Tigray region of the country.
According to the United States, there was an increasing number of confirmed cases of military blocking access to humanitarians aids to the Tigray region. The US said there were also reports of human rights atrocities committed by military personnel of the Eritrea government and Amhara regional forces in the region.
The precarious state of security in the country is largely responsible for the postponement as there are claims of ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the northern region of the country.
As it stands, if elections were to hold in Ethiopia, the Tigray region would not take part, according to the NEBE. The electoral body had announced that 36.245 per cent of the Ethiopian population had registered for the parliamentary elections. The parliamentary elections are the decider for the head of the Ethiopian government.
How initial postponement led to killings, displacement in Ethiopia
In August 2020, the Ethiopian government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed postponed the parliamentary elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but his decision did not sit well with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which was ruling the northern region at the time.
Following their resistance, some part of the Tigray region went ahead to hold a parliamentary election, thereby fueling the crisis with the central government led by Ahmed.
Since November, the central government and the TPFL have been at loggerheads, leading to violence and the killing of many civilians.
Amnesty International had said ‘scores or likely hundreds’ of civilians unconnected to the military offensive between the central government and the Tigray region were hacked to death in Mai-Kadra (May Cadera) town in the South-West Zone of Ethiopia’s Tigray region on the night of November 9, 2020.
The United Nations has also said thousands of people have been displaced by the violence as more than five million of the six million population of the Tigray region are now in need of emergency care.
Ahmed, who received a Nobel prize for peace in 2019, now sees the country thrown in yet another serious ethnic crisis.
The TPLF had ruled Ethiopia for almost 25 years before the emergence of Ahmed, who is from the Oromia region as the fourth prime minister of Ethiopia.