Ethiopia Can Hold Elections with Necessary Precautions - Health Minister

By Staff Reporter

Ethiopian-ElectionsSeptember 20, 2020 ( -- Ethiopian Health Minister Dr. Lia Tadesse told parliament that the country can hold the 6th general elections any time soon after the necessary precautions to prevent coronavirus are in place.

The House of Federation in June this year postponed the 6th general elections, which was slated for last August, due to COVID-19 pandemic.

The upper house also recommended the elections shall be held after the Health Ministry and other relevant organizations approve the pandemic does not pose any threats on health of voters.

Minister of Health Dr. Lia Tadesse told MPs on Friday that COVID-19 cannot be a health threat to conduct the general elections if the necessary precautions to minimize the spread of the virus are taken ahead of the poll.

The health minister said the nation has established better preventive capacities that will help it to prevent the pandemic even though the virus continues to spread at the rate of about 7 percent.

The preconditions include availability of thermal scanners which will be placed at the entry point of every polling station and facemasks should be kept ready for voters who are not carrying any mask.

According to the minister, voters shall lower the facemask for identification purposes at a given time and only one voter shall be allowed to stand in front of each ballot as officials follow up social distance.

According to the minister, the nation’s testing capacity against COVID-19 has increased and the ministry has managed to conduct over 1,165,647 laboratory tests since mid March.

Out of total laboratory tests 66,224 people were confirmed positive for the COVID-19 as 1,045 deaths have been reported since then.

According to the Minister, the ministry can establish 10,500 emergency responses and surveillance teams across the nation to oversee the process.

She said the country can reduce the rate of the spread of the virus by 92 percent if social distancing guidelines and mask wearing precautions are properly practiced by additional 5 percent and 50 percent respectively.

Ethiopia has benchmarked best preventive practices from various world countries and implemented them accordingly, Dr. Lia said, adding “nation can hold the postponed elections as the people have been implementing precautionary measures and developing protective awareness.”

In regards to political campaigning, candidates can do door-to-door campaigning as public gatherings and rallies can be held subject to adherence to COVID-19 guidelines.

When the parliament postponed the elections, opposition political parties mainly the Tigray Liberation Front (TPLF) objected to delaying the vote claiming no one knows when the pandemic will end or whether the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will seek further postponements.

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