By Staff Reporter
June 10, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- The Ethiopian House of Federation (HOF) on Wednesday extended the tenure of the government until the next elections and a transfer of power takes place.
The house also extended the terms of the councils of the federal, regional, and executive bodies until the impacts of coronavirus pandemic are over.
The house’s decision followed a report submitted to it by the Constitutional Inquiry Committee, an advisory body that dwelt and gathered information about whether the 6th general election can be postponed through legal means without causing a constitutional crisis.
The existing Ethiopian constitution stipulates that the general elections should be held every five years.
The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) in March announced its pre-election activities were hampered due to ongoing state of emergency declared to stem the COVID-19 pandemic and that it would be impossible to organize the polls next August.
The government had proposed four legal options namely amendment of the constitution, interpretation of the constitution, and declaring state of emergency and establishment of a transitional government to deal with the constitutional crisis.
The house’s decision is expected to anger some prominent political parties including the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) which accused Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of using the pandemic as an excuse to extend his stay in office.
The House of Federation did not specify when exactly elections should take place but the MPs approved recommendations forwarded to them by the Council of Constitutional Inquiry that called for “elections shall be held nine to 12 months after the coronavirus is deemed not a public health concern”.
The house’s decision ensures Ethiopia will avoid a constitutional crisis, given the mandate of the current administration was set to expire on Oct. 10.
Accordingly, the 6th general election will be held within a year after the Ethiopian Ministry of Health, Ethiopian Public Institute, and continental and international health agencies declare the virus no longer poses a threat to safe balloting.
Speaking to the parliament last Monday, Abiy called on opposition political parties to be patient amid concerns that the postponement of the election could cause political tensions.
TPLF, the governing party of the Tigray region, opposed the postponement of the elections and vowed to go ahead with regional polls.
The House approved the extension by 114 votes in favor, four against, and one abstained. Two days later, the House Speaker, Keria Ibrahim, resigned over the postponement of the elections.
So far, Ethiopia reported 2,506 cases of coronavirus, 35 deaths. More than half of those cases have been recorded in the past 10 days.
Minister of Health Dr.Lia Tadesse last week said the cases were increasing rapidly due to the community transmission mainly in the capital Addis Ababa.
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