Ethiopian Parliament Approves Resolution to Postpone General Elections

By Staff Reporter

Ethiopian-ElectionsMay 5, 2020 ( -- The Ethiopian House of Peoples Representatives (parliament) has approved a resolution on seeking constitutional interpretations out of four legal options proposed by the government to postpone this year's general elections.

Other than seeking constitutional interpretations, the government forwarded dissolving the parliament; declaring a state of emergency; amending the constitution to tackle the constitutional crisis it might face by extending the general elections next August.

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) had already announced that it will not be able to hold the election in August due to the restrictions posed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, leaving the final decision to the parliament to which the Board is accountable.

Accordingly, the House of Federation will interpret three articles of the constitution namely article 54/1, article 58/3, and article 93 if the government can extend the general election.

The legal and democratic affairs standing committee of the house opted for the constitutional interpretations as the best and legally acceptable resolution and on Tuesday presented it to the house for approval.

The standing committee’s decision faced strong opposition from some MPs mainly representatives of the Tigray region who rejected the government’s proposal saying it did not involve other political parties, civic associations and the constitution has clearly stipulated about how and when general elections are held.

One of the MPs from the Tigray region said the House of Federation (HOF) is not constitutionally mandated to extend the general elections under the guise of constitution interpretations and the move to refer the matter to HOF was unconstitutional and unacceptable.

Addisalem Balema, another MP from the Tigray region said the ruling government neither has the capacity nor mandate to extend the election. It should hold discussion with other political parties on the matter and come up with an inclusive solution; hence, the proposal presented by the standing committee was inappropriate.

Contrary to the stance of Tigray’s MPs who claimed the general elections should be held as per the schedule, other MPs supported NEBE’s decision to defer the elections.

 “It is inhuman to take a stand that the Ethiopian public should cast ballot amid evolving coronavirus infection; it is tantamount to killing people for the respect of the constitution; we are not sure if we stay alive and stay in power due to the pandemic and hence let’s think of the public who are worrying about their lives, not about the election” the other MPs have argued.

Some political parties said the four alternatives will cause a legitimacy crisis after the term of government end up next October.

Finally, the House approved a resolution seeking interpretation on articles 54/1, 58/3, and 93 of the constitution with a majority vote and 25 against.

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