“The EU is a committed and reliable partner of Ethiopia, and we attach great importance to the stability and unity of the country, which is crucial for the whole of Horn of Africa” the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson said, commenting on the recent political events in the country in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 7 the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali made an announcement that the ruling party will stay in charge until next elections, while the election calendar was postponed due to sanitary conditions, and Tigray region refused to follow.
Africa’s second most populous (115M) country was due to hold national elections in August 29, and the incumbent Prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali hoped would give him a mandate for wide-ranging political and economic reforms people are awaiting for long.
However the election board announced in late March that it would be impossible to organise the polls on time because of the pandemic.
The EU have been following closely the recent political developments in the country, and has “taken note” of the swift decision of the House of People’s Representatives to ask the Constitutional explanations of the postponement of the elections, the EEAS spokesperson ensured.
“We encourage and support the inclusive and comprehensive dialogue of all political parties at federal and regional level in order to organise the next elections in a coordinated way” the spokesperson of the EU diplomacy continued. She also underlined that the EU intended to deploy the EU Election observation mission (EUEOM) for the general elections, “in this context we pay special attention to the conditions of the organisation of elections throughout the electoral process”.
The events in Tigray region became a matter of concern after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) announced plans to conduct elextions in Tigray region despite of the federal government decision of postponemet. In relation to this decision of Tigray region leading political force the EU diplomacy “have taken note of the declaration of the Tigray’s People Liberation Front (TPLF) to hold elections in the region, the EU delegation of the ground in Addis Abeba has regular contacts with TPLF, and is seeking the clarifications on this declaration” the spokesperson underlined.
The EU diplomacy is also fully aware that the decision to hold regional elections separately from the general election has been debated in the country by legal and constiutuional experts, and the “European Union is encouraging and supporting the inclusive and comprehensive dialogue of political parties of both level – national and regional” the spokesperson underlined.
Citing the CVOID-19 pandemic as the reason for the calendar change, last month on March 31 the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) postponed indefinitely the legislative elections scheduled for August 29. The supporters of the decision, mostly from the incumbent government, have expressed consent, while the opposition condemned the decision defining it as a “power-grab“. They also indicated that the later date would not take into account poor rain season weather conditions and agricultural activities, complicating electoral campaign.