PM Abiy Hints Postponement of National Elections Due to Coronavirus

By Staff Reporter

Ethiopian-ElectionsMarch 20, 2020 ( -- Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has hinted that the 6th national elections would be postponed if the spreading of coronavirus is not contained in time.

Speaking to journalists on Friday Abiy said the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) is undertaking its own assessment if the country can conduct the elections on August 29, 2020.

Several political parties, including the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), are insisting the government conduct the elections as per the constitution.

They claimed failing to conduct the elections will subject the nation to “stateless” and unfolding political crisis as the legitimacy of the ruling Prosperity Party will end next Ethiopian New Year.

If the current COVID-19 challenges are coped shortly, it will be good to hold the elections as per schedule, otherwise it will be obligatory to postpone the elections, the Premier added.

“However, the final decision will be made based on the assessment of the electoral board and after discussions are held with concerned stakeholders,” he added.

He said the government will build additional correction facilities to expand holding spaces in order to avoid overcrowding and subsequent transmission of COVID-19 in detention centers.

He said prisoners with minor offenses will be released and new prisoners will be to be tested for COVID-19 before confinement and visits to prisoners have been temporarily halted.

The premier further said considering the increasing rates of positive cases, the government also calls upon all medical professionals, including those in training, to be ready for the call of national duty.

According to the premier, the first shipment of testing kits, masks and guidelines contributed by Jack Ma through Alibaba will arrive on Sunday, March 22, 2020.

The premier said nightclubs and bars to cease their operations temporarily as part of prevention and containment measures.

Meanwhile, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) once again warned for risk violence in the country if the government persist in violations of human rights to free movement, meeting, organize against its members and supporters.

In a briefing on Friday, Chairman of the front Daud Ibssa demanded the government to immediately release jailed leaders and members of the front.

“We demand the government to refrain from infringing upon the rights of citizens to free movement, organize and holding meetings and failing to do so will lead the nation to chaos,” Daud warned.

He claimed officials and members of the ruling Prosperity Party need to respect the rule of law and refrain from any attempt to reinstitute the previous administration practices.

The chairman also accused the government and other political forces of overturning the quest for self administrations of the Ethiopian nations and nationalities through controlling the nation’s media and economy.

The spread of coronavirus reportedly posed a serious threat among the over 900,000 migrants living in 28 refugee camps of Ethiopia.

The Agency for Refugees and Returnees Affairs of Ethiopia said it has launched screening of newly arriving migrants in the country against the COVID-19 at every entry point of the country.

The agency said it is working with all concerned local and international organizations to prevent the spread of the virus in refugee camps.

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