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Ethiopia - Election 2020

The President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is the Head of State, a largely symbolic and ceremonial post. The House of Peoples' Representatives shall nominate the candidate for President. The nominee shall be elected President if a joint session of the House of Peoples' Representatives and the House of the Federation approves his candidacy by a two-thirds majority vote.

Ethiopia postponed its parliamentary election scheduled for August due to the coronavirus outbreak, the electoral board said on 31 March 2020, a move endorsed by some key opposition parties. The August vote had been regarded as an important test of the reformist agenda of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in what was once one of the continent's most repressive nations. "Due to the pandemic we were forced to suspend our activities," said an Amharic-language statement from the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia. The board will announce a new timeline once the pandemic has subsided, it said.

Previous elections in Ethiopia, a parliamentary democracy, have been marred by allegations of rigging and intimidation of the opposition. Abiy had promised to hold free and fair elections in August and has been positioning himself as a unity candidate whose reforms could replace state repression as the glue to hold together Ethiopia's often fractious federal regions. But his party would have faced a stiff challenge from many newly resurgent regional, ethnically-based parties.

Dr. Mulatu Teshome Wirtu, the president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE), was elected President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia for a term of six years on October 7, 2013 by the joint session of the House of People’s Representatives and the House of Federation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia's parliament made Sahle-Work Zewde the country's first female president on October 25, 2018. And while the role is largely ceremonial, her appointment carried power in what it signifies. The spokesman for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed called the move “historic” and said it shows women will play key roles in Ethiopian politics. Sahle-Work previously served at the U.N. Special Representative to the African Union and Ethiopian Ambassador to France, Senegal and Djibouti. She also headed the U.N. office in Nairobi. Sahle-Work’s appointment Thursday follows a Cabinet reorganization by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that resulted in women getting 50 percent of the government’s top ministerial positions. And women now hold 37 percent of Ethiopia’s parliamentary seats, almost twice the ratio of women in the U.S. Congress.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia said 27 August 2018 that the 2020 election will be free and not be delayed by his sweeping reforms to the African nation’s politics, economy and diplomacy. Ahmed, who took office in April 2018, pledged to open up the state-dominated economy and has taken steps to end decades of hostility with neighbouring Eritrea — moves that could reshape the country and the broader Horn of Africa region.

“My dream and ambition is for democratic elections to be held,” the 42-year-old prime minister said. “Otherwise, what legitimacy can any official have without the mandate earned through elections?” He said elections, due in 2020, should not be delayed until the reforms he has announced are completed. He said the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition’s focus in 2019 would be on “preparations for free elections to be held.” Ahmed promised to give more room to opponents in a nation of 100 million where no opposition lawmakers sit in parliament.

The ruling coalition, in power since ousting dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam in 1991, has long been accused by the opposition of crushing dissent, a charge it had denied, though Mr Ahmed has spoken frankly since taking office about past abuses. Some political dissidents have voiced scepticism about change as long as Mr Ahmed’s EPRDF remains in power.

In addition to whether and when the election will take place, another challenge to Abiy is the proliferation in the number of opposition political parties, namely more than 100. The prime minister has called on them to merge, suggesting that three to six are enough.

Ethiopia will face problems if it delays its general election beyond the scheduled date of May 2020, the prime minister said on 22 October 2019. “Democracy needs exercise. If we say we cannot hold elections now, it will bring a lot of problems. We should work wholeheartedly by building public trust,” Abiy Ahmed, this year’s Nobel peace prize winner, told parliament.

The electoral board has the financing and capacity to conduct the polls in the country of 105 million. The vote would be the first under Abiy, who took office in April 2018 and began introducing political and economic reforms. These reforms opened up what was once one of Africa’s most repressive nations but also stoked violence as emboldened regional strongmen build ethnic powerbases and compete over political influence and resources.

Ethiopia has regularly held elections since 1995, but with the exception of the 2005 election, no election has been competitive. In the 2005 poll, riots erupted after the opposition cried foul, security forces killed nearly 200 protesters, and the government jailed many opposition politicians.

Ethiopia's parliamentary election will be held on 29 August 2020, the country's electoral board said 14 February 2020. The announcement came weeks after the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) had proposed August 16 as a tentative date for the election, a first test of voter support for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

"Looking at parts of the country which will be affected by the rainy season, pushing the schedule a little further will ease our burden," NEBE Chairwoman Birtukan Mideksa said at a conference on election preparations taking place in the capital, Addis Ababa.

The final results of the election will be announced from August 30 to September 8, according to the new schedule. Plans to hold the parliamentary and regional council elections in May were postponed as neither authorities nor parties would be ready, Mideksa had said in January.

The country had regular parliamentary elections since the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power in 1991 but, with one exception, none was competitive. Abiy, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 largely for his efforts at reconciliation with Ethiopia's neighbor and longtime foe Eritrea, has promised that this year's vote will be free and fair. Abiy has introduced a series of sweeping political and economic adjustments, including granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, but his reforms have also unleashed ethnic rivalries that have spilled into violence.

Led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the federal government postponed the general election in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision was supported by his Prosperity Party and major opposition parties. But the government of the Tigray region refused to abide by the decision, seeing the postponement as an attempt by Abiy, the 2019 Nobel Peace laureate, to prolong his hold on power and curtail the region's autonomy.

On 05 September 2020, the House of Federation, the upper chamber of Ethiopia's legislature, unanimously declared elections for the Tigray regional parliament "unconstitutional" and the results "therefore void." But the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which governs the region, is expected to press ahead with the vote for a new administration.

Officials for both the federal and regional governments saw themselves as following Ethiopia's constitution and the rule of law. The Tigrayan political scientist Yemane Zerai said that there was little point to legalistic theorizing. "The political relations will determine the relationship," he said, "which can lead us into a peaceful coexistence or it can take us to total disengagement, which can lead to the disintegration of the Ethiopian state — or at least to the separation of the Tigrayan state."

Relations between the TPLF and the federal government have deteriorated markedly since the former refused to join the prime minister's Prosperity Party when it was formed in 2019. "We know there is an open threat by Abiy to militarily intervene against Tigray and to cut funds, but we will still go ahead with the vote," said Getachew Reda, the TPLF spokesman and a former federal information minister. According to an analysis by the International Crisis Group think tank, Abiy told a local media outlet that talk of a military intervention in the Tigray region was "insane" and said there were no plans for one under any circumstances. But he has repeatedly said there would be consequences, without going into details.

It is obvious that Tigray had a real problem and it was struggling to reinvent itself in terms of its role within the Ethiopian federation. Despite representing an ethnic minority, The TPLF dominated Ethiopia's ruling coalition for nearly three decades before anti-government protests led to Abiy's appointment as prime minister in 2018. Having lost its national prominence, the TPLF turned inward. The problem in Tigray is the culture of democratisation. There is no demarcation between the ruling party and the government or the state.

The governing party in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region won all contested seats in elections that have further affected an already hostile relationship with the federal government. "The total seats for all the regional constituencies were won by the TPLF," regional election commissioner Muluwork Kidanemariam said on 11 September 2929, referring to the Tigray People's Liberation Front. The official turnout was "97 or 98 percent" from more than 2.6 million registered voters, Muluwork said. The regional parliament comprises 190 seats - 152 of which were up for grabs in polls that took place on Wednesday. The remaining 38 seats will be allocated after negotiations among the five political parties who participated in the vote, meaning there is still a chance for some opposition representation.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 11:40:06 ZULU