Tag Archives: Tigray

Tigray region counts ballots

Tigray region held regional elections on September 9, in spite of protests of the federal government and increasing political tensions in Ethiopia.

While Prime Minister Abiy has ruled out military intervention, there are fears that any punitive measures by the federal government could further escalate tensions.

The Tigray defiance of the federal government is the latest challenge to the administration of Nobel Peace Price winner Abiy, who is struggling to hold together a federation that assembles Ethiopia’s more than 80 ethnic groups.

The regional officials, holding polls for the 190-seat Tigray parliament, warned that any intervention by the federal government would amount to a “declaration of war”.

They objected to the postponement of the national and regional elections, originally scheduled for August, explained by the coronavirus pandemic and the extension of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s time in office.

The local sources said results will be announced by September 13.

On, Ethiopia’s upper house of parliament, which mediates constitutional disputes, ruled that the polls for regional parliaments and other positions were unconstitutional, announcing the assessment on September 5, which did not stop Tigray region to continue with election timetable.

EU calls Ethiopians for inclusive dialogue

«The EU calls all sides to restrain from violent reactions, and appease tensions» said the European External Action Service spokesperson, while commenting on the situation in Tigray region of Ethiopia, where the elections to the regional 190 seats parliament were declared unilaterally, refusing to postpone them due to pandemic sanitary restrictions.
The Tigray electorate intends to drop ballots on September 9, provoking political tensions between regional and federal delegates, interpreting the Constitution.

«The EU encourages and supports the inclusive, and comprehensive dialogue between all political parties at federal and regional levels in order to organise next general elections in coordinated way» she continued. «The EU intends to deploy an electoral observation mission for the general elections, and will pay special attention to the conditions of its organisation through the electoral process. The EU follow closely the situation in Ethiopia, including through out EU delegation».

The EU spokesperson also quoted the declaration of the House of Federation of Ethiopia, qualifying the decision of the regional parliament of Tigray region as «unconstitutional».

Ethiopia is the key EU partner in the region, while development cooperation is one of the largest in Africa and in the world, amounting to more than €800 million for the period 2014-2020. The significance of the partnership with Ethiopia has been underlined with the symbolism of the first working foreign visit of the new European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen to Addis Ababa.

However in spite of the calls for coordinated  action from Addis Ababa and abroad, the Office of Electoral Commission of the National Regional State of Tigray said 2672 polling stations were ready for tomorrow’s regional election. Some 2.7 million people are expected to cast their votes from 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM, the Commission said.
The information about the upcoming vote is limited because the independent observers, and members of the press were not allowed to enter the region.

The elections are just the latest example of how Tigrayan officials are increasingly acting like leaders of an independent state, creating a political standoff, which evokes a great deal of interest and concern abroad. Back in June the Federal election officials said the elections had “no legal basis”, and the upper house of parliament ruled they were “null and void”. On September 5 Ethiopia upper house of parliament, the House of Federation, called the formation of an electoral board in the region illegal and said any actions taken by it would be unenforceable, state-controlled Broadcasting Corporation reported from Addis Ababa.

In recent days, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed office has instructed the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority to call journalists working for foreign media outlets to pressure them not to cover the vote. On September 7, intelligence agents barred several journalists from boarding a flight from Addis Ababa to Mekele.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank revealed that some federal officials have raised the possibility of retaliating by taking economic “punitive” action against the Tigray government – for instance, by withholding financial grants, which amount to half the region’s budget.

Approximately 3 million people are expected to vote in the September 9 regional election, according to the Tigray Regional Electoral Commission, and results are expected to be announced by September 13. Five parties are participating, including the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and other smaller regional parties such as the Tigray Independence Party, which is focused on for the secession of the region from Ethiopia. However not all the parties in the region entered the standoff with Addis Ababa – the Prosperity Party and the Tigray Democratic Party are both boycotting the elections.

EU committed to stablity of Ethiopia

“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.

Tigray region elections controversy

Ethiopia’s Tigray region plans to hold elections, its leading party announced, setting it on a collision course with the federal government in Addis Ababa and imposing strain on the country’s fragile unity.

On May 4 the Executive Committee of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has passed a decision to hold the upcoming elections at the regional level after the decision of the election board to postpone the elections “indefinitely” the context of the pandemic.

The end of March Ethiopian electoral board postponed parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for August 29 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. A new date has yet to be set but the opposition has already questioned the move.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the region’s governing party, split acrimoniously from the national Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition last year when its three other parties merged to form the new Prosperity Party.

The TPLF said it would proceed with elections in Tigray region despite the nationwide postponement of voting due to COVID-19.

We are making preparations including the holding of a regional election in order to safeguard the rights of our people from chaos,” a TPLF statement said. It did not mention a date for the vote.

Addis Alem Balema, an expert and a prominent Tigray politician has criticised Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government in connection with the change of the election schedule.

Government was working half-heartedly on the next election. Now the Coronavirus complicated it,” the expert said.  Moreover, he criticized Prime minister’s administration pointing that the rule of law in the country is “messy“.

Concerning the strategy to address the situation, Alem Balema added the measures to be taken need to ensure the “rights of nations and nationalities, and foster the federal system.” 

Consultation has to continue and the upcoming election has to be free, fair, and credible” he added.