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News Update: Ethiopia Election Board Chairperson resigns

Birtukan Mideksa. Photo: NEBE

Addis Abeba – Birtukan Mideksa, Chairperson of the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), has resigned from her position citing personal need for “a long-term rest to maintain my health.”

Birtukan announced her resignation via her Facebook page and said that she has already informed the office of the Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) on 12 June that “I have voluntarily resigned” as the chairperson of the Board effective 07 August, she said.

“In my remaining time, I will be responsible for completing unfinished tasks and making administrative transitions,” Birtukan said.

A former judge and opposition party leader, she was appointed as Chairperson of the Board when the national parliament approved her nomination by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in November 2018.

“I dreamed of making our institution a reliable and independent institution capable of conducting elections,” Birtukan said, and hailed her works done through the Board since as attempts “to carry out the responsibilities given to me by conducting referendums and national elections, and managing political parties in accordance with the legality, fairness and sincerity.”

Birtukan expressed her “gratitude to all the board members who were with me, the Board staff, especially the hardworking women staff who made my daily work full of inspiration, and all those who made our work easier by sharing their experience as long-term employees of the board with new employees.”

She also appreciated political parties, who she said instead of seeing the board “as a manager and a supervisor, considered it a family that works together, even when we made decisions that did not please them.”

During her tenure as chairperson of the NEBE, Birtukan presided over the controversial 2021 national election and three referendums that led to the formation of new states in Southern Ethiopia. Under her leadership, the NEBE had recently went into a row with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) when it declined its registration as a political party on grounds that it is not supported by the electoral law.

The Chairperson’s resignation today is the second high level resignation since the Board has been reconstituted after the coming into office of PM Abiy. In September 2020, Dr. Getahun Kassa, one of the four board members, resigned from his post citing “many reasons” for his resignation; he said at the time that he would not disclose the reasons for his resignation, which happened a week after the then Tigrayan administration held an election for local council, which many believed was the major push factors for the war in Tigray two months later. AS

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