TPLF executive committee decided to conduct election, accuses Abiy Ahmed’s gov’t of threatening “constitutional order”

Analysts say TPLF decision to hold election in Tigray region could trigger a deep political crisis for Ethiopia

TPLF _ Ethiopia _ Election _debretsion
TPLF chairman, Debretsion Gebremichael. Photo credit : Tigray region communication office

May 4, 2020

Following three days of an executive committee meeting, Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) announced on Monday that it will conduct elections on its own.

The decision came just a day before the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives met to deliberate on how to go about the next election after the General Election scheduled for August 29, 2020, was canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) disclosed last month that it can not carry out the election as scheduled based on a study it conducted.

On Thursday last week, Chairwomen of the Board, Birtukan Mideksa, appeared before the parliament to share its findings regarding why it is impossible to conduct an election in August as scheduled. And the parliament agreed, through an administered vote, that the election can not take place in August.

The government discussed four possible options with opposition parties, including the Tigray People’s Liberation Front which is acting much like a militant opposition party against Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party, regarding how to go about organizing the election outside of the required constitutional timeframe due to the Coronavirus circumstances.

Dissolving parliament, declaring a state of emergency, amending the Constitution, and seeking a constitutional interpretation are the possible options to organize the election outside of the constitutional time frame.

Based on the meeting held last week, government and opposition parties are on the same page that all the options are legal and constitutional. Come Tuesday, the Ethiopian parliament will decide as to which of the four options are in the best interests of Ethiopia.

It was under the above circumstance that TPLF came up with its own decision to conduct the election. It is unclear whether legislation governing elections in Ethiopia and the election board would allow that to happen.

In a statement issued on Monday, TPLF made numerous, but familiar, allegations against the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his prosperity party.

In a five-point resolution written in Tigrigna, TPLF alleged that the Prosperity Party is moving along the line of “dismantling the constitutional order.”

The organization also called upon the House of Peoples Representatives and the House of Federation to stop Prosperity Party’s move to dismantle the Constitutional order.

“…COVID 19 has become a good opportunity to establish a one-man authoritarian rule,” alleges TPLF’s statement.

Elections schedules of several countries around the world have been affected by the COVID 19. Some, like Bolivia, Chile, and Switzerland, have canceled general elections. Several other countries have canceled provincial elections, municipal elections, and bi-elections. Many countries in Africa have experienced similar situations.

Ethiopia’s polarized political environment seems to be a different story. Yet, most opposition parties have agreed that fighting Coronavirus has to be a top priority.

TPLF has been acting like a de facto state within a state since Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister in March 2018.

TPLF _ Election
TPLF 45th anniversary celebration in Mekele in February 2020. Photo credit : Tigray region Communication

Reports from opposition parties in the region indicate that TPLF has been systematically mobilizing for the secession agenda after losing dominance in the Federal government.  The organization mobilizes along “Tigray is under siege,” theme; in the north from the Eritrean government and in the south from “Neftegna,” as they put it.

The celebration of the 45 anniversary of TPLF in February projected what appeared to be a projection of militarization in the region.

Too many Ethiopians express concern that the position of the TPLF government could lead the country into political chaos.  

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