Differed Elections May Lead to Large-Scale Uprisings: Opposition Parties

By Staff Reporter

OLF-OFC-ONLFJune 12, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- Prominent Oromo opposition political parties have accused the government of making a “unilateral decision” to extend the 6th general elections which were scheduled for August 29, 2020.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) also opposed the postponement of the election and described the decision as a sudden and profound halt of the democratization process in the country.

The political parties’ complaints come after the Ethiopian House of Federation (HOF) passed the decision allowing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to remain in power until the spreading COVID-19 pandemic is over.

The House of Federation on Wednesday had extended the term limit of the ruling Prosperity Party (PP) until after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared no longer a threat to public safety and elections took place within 9 to 12 months subsequently.

In a joint statement, OLF, OFC, and ONLF denounced the “unilateral decision” and warned that Ethiopia was entering a phase that would usher in a dangerous political crisis.

“We would like to express our concern that large-scale mass uprisings which could transform into violence may arise, and this will not only take us back to square one, it will also be difficult to contain for a government already dealing with multiple sociology-economic and public health challenges,” reads the joint statement from OLF and OFC.

“Now that the government has taken this unilateral decision despite clear warnings by opposition parties the ONLF wishes to affirm that Ethiopia is entering a more dangerous political phase which can only be described as a sudden and profound halt in the democratization process,” reads the statement from ONLF.

“We would like to express our dismay with the decision of the House of Federation to extend the term of the government it is an illegal and an illegitimate act that not only violates the constitution but also endangers the peace and stability of the country.”

“Despite our objection and submission of alternative solutions, the ruling party stubbornly continued with unilateral action by making the House of People Representatives refers the matter to the Council of Constitutional Enquiry (CCI),” the parties have said.

The Oromo parties said the council undertook a disingenuous process whereby experts advocating the ruling party’s position were invited where amicus brief submissions by those holding a different opinion were excluded from the hearing. Moreover, the principles of avoiding conflict of interest were violated hence it is not surprising at all that the final decision reflected the ruling party’s initial position.

Operating within the parameters of the aforementioned laws and principles the multiparty landscape in the country today includes registered, credible, and active political parties.

Therefore, we strongly oppose the unilateral decision to extend the mandate of regional and federal legislators by a single party. The decision by the House of Federation will exacerbate the discontent of the public, which has already overflown due to broken promises by the current government, the parties added.

The parties said it was regrettable that their proposal and other proposals presented by many opposition parties and citizens that called for inclusive dialogue for a political settlement to prevent a constitutional crisis after September 2020 are totally disregarded by the ruling party.

“We believe that the ruling Party’s unilateral decision of extending the term of office of its own government is a sheer violation of the constitution and abuse of power which is antithetical to the ethos of a democratic and multiparty governance system enshrined in the constitution, and erodes the democratic principle that limited term of office,” the parties have said in a statement.

“On this basis, we strongly reject the unilateral decision taken by the ruling party to unilaterally and unconstitutionally extend its term. Once again we call on the ruling party to sit down with the opposition parties to thoughtfully discuss the issue in order to find a solution and reach a political settlement,” the opposition political parties added.

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