The two parties also called on all stakeholders to “join hands and prioritize defeating the coronavirus” in Ethiopia; and warned the “pandemic should not be used as pretext to further narrow the fragile political space.”

Please click here to download the full statement in pdf

Addis Abeba, April 03/2020 – A joint statement issued by Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) on the postponement of the 2020 Ethiopian Election expressed the parties’ reservation on the process by the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) and called the postponement to be used as an opportunity for an all inclusive dialogue and consensus among all stakeholders.

In a statement it issued on March 31, NEBE said that based on its assessments of the current circumstances it was unable to follow through its own earlier timetable to conduct elections preparation owing to measures Ethiopia is implementing in its fight against the spread of COVID-19. However, the joint statement from OLF and OFC said the “process the Board has followed to reach its decision is wrong, and yet another manifestation of  part of a troubling pattern.”

The parties expressed their reservations on basis that although NEBE said its decision “was made in consultation with stakeholders…this was not done as promised and the March 31 announcement to postpone the election was made public without even internally notifying the decision to political parties.”

“It is true that NEBE had organized consultative meetings with political parties on March 20/2020 at Hyatt Regency Hotel in Addis Abeba in the presence of representatives of political parties, including the incumbent Prosperity Party and representatives of opposition parties. At the end of the meeting, NEBE, represented by its chairperson Ms. Birtukan Mideksa, promised that there would be another round of meeting to hold additional dialogue with all stakeholders before making any decision,” the statement said, and lamented that NEBE went on passing the decision without additional consultations with stakeholders.

The parties have also criticized as wrong the Board’s decision to refer “the matter to the House of People’s Representative (HoPR) while the current members of the House have no mandate to decide on matters that will occur after their five-year term expires. It should be noted that according to Article 58 of the FDRE Constitution, the term of office of members of the HoPR lasts for five years and election shall be held one month prior to the expiry of such five years,” the statement said.

However, despite criticizing the process NEBE followed to reach at its decision, both parties said that the “unfortunate” postponement should be used by all for a fresh start. [We] “believe that while the postponement of the election due to pandemic is unfortunate and beyond the control of the Board, the incumbent, political parties and other stakeholders such as civil society organizations, it presents all with a renewed opportunity and commitment to correct mistakes that have been threatening to derail Ethiopia’s transition to democracy and put it back on the right track.”

Both parties have also adopted a five-point resolution on the way forward.

The following are the five-point resolution by the two parties:

  • We all need to join hands and prioritize defeating the coronavirus. Towards this end, no political activity or decision should hinder the collective fight against the pandemic.
  • Laws, decrees and directives passed to deal with the pandemic should be limited only to dealing with the public health emergency and the pandemic should not be used as pretext to further narrow the fragile political space. 
  •  While prioritizing the fight against the pandemic, stakeholders should take maximum precautions in line with WHO recommendations and continue to deliberate and consult about the election.   
  • Decisions about the new election date and issues related to that should be made after sufficient consultation and consensus among all parties and stakeholders. Neither the government nor the election board should rush to pass any decision without sufficient consultation and consensus with all stakeholders. 
  • It is clear that the postponement of the election means the term of the current government expires, potentially triggering a constitutional crisis. Issues related to how the government is run during the interim period should be decided based on the constitution and in consultation with all political parties and stakeholders. 

Please click here to download the full statement in pdf. AS

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