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Elections and Covid-19 (By Kebour Ghenna)

Election _ COVID 19 _ Kebour
Kebour Ghenna

By Kebour Ghenna
May 24, 2020

The other day I was having coffee on the terrace of a coffee shop next to three young men with masks discussing elections and Covid-19. “Do you think the virus will be squashed” asked one young fellow with all the others giggling. “With, or no Covid, Abye will win… but who will he pick as his vice?”, asked another.

Who will Abye pick as his Vice?

For now, it looks like the PM intends to bypass the democratic process by staging a dubious postponement of the election… Main reason: Covid-19. He’s called for a constitutional interpretation on the right to extend or postpone the 2020 elections. There will be a shock if the ruling of the Constitutional interpretation says NO to the postponement….But that will not happen!

Let’s check out first the question of the young lad regarding the Vice Premiership; obviously I can’t imagine the current incumbent topping the list. He doesn’t have much to bring to the table any more. I assume he accepted his position at least partly for the same reason his predecessor did: to be something and not to do something. Indeed, to be a Vice Premier you must have enough ambition to want the job but not enough ambition to do anything.

The qualities desired in a Premier – leadership, vision and charisma – are not the qualities desired in a Vice Premier. What is needed is not being a mover and shaker; what is needed is an obedient deputy, a lucky man!

Back to the national election – As it stands right now, people are not even sure there will be an election in the US, the world’s oldest democracy, let alone in Ethiopia. Given the power at stake, politicians and bureaucrats have overwhelming incentive to prolong the pandemic for months, even years allowing the country to turn ‘Belgian’, basically letting the government to stay in power for years without elections.

Doesn’t matter how badly or correctly is the Constitution going to be interpreted. Doesn’t matter what Jawar or Lidetu think or do. Those who decide (whoever they are) will give the government more time, say a year or two, in terms of holding the next election. The PM will embrace the decision and then will promise that despite the emergency measure, his administration is committed to make sure elections are held at some future date. CASE CLOSED… until the question of legitimacy becomes a source of great controversy among nationals and international actors!

In the mean time the country is struggling to understand the essence of the Government policy responses to Covid-19. Like many, many governments in the world, ours had been spooked by ‘flawed scientific papers’ into imposing some sort of ‘‘life has to go on’ inconsistent lockdown which was ‘inefficient’ and had little effect. To take just one example, what sense did governments display by closing down (and keeping them closed) numerous service businesses under the guise that they are not essential?

Did the government succeed in altering the course of pandemic? Or did it merely provide an excuse for doing things that it wanted to do anyway?

We don’t know. What we know is that many people are still scared and remain badly informed of many important points, including how the virus is disseminated in different environments. What we hear is that too many people refuse to go out and have contact with the public because they think they are going to get the virus and die. What we know is the economy is hurting. As near as we can figure it out, the economic recovery is not for tomorrow. Customers will be careful not to spend money they don’t have. Many small and medium sized businesses and hotels will not reopen until there is demand.

Dear Readers, we all need to get back to work or there will be no normal life to return to. The COVID-19 coronavirus is very infectious, but not deadly.


Editor’s note : This article appeared first on the Facebook page of Kebour Ghenna

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