Tigray opposition calls for federal government action on TPLF election

Leader of Tigray Democratic Party urges the Federal government to take action against what he called illegal election in the region

Tigray Democratic Party

August 21, 2020

Tigray Democratic Party (TDP), one of the ethnic Tigray opposition parties, said this week that the Federal government needs to impose a sanction on what it called “illegal election in Tigray.”  The party believes that it is intended to make the region a center for violence and chaos.

The party’s chairman Aregawi Berhe told Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) the planned election in the Tigray region is not an exercise in the line of building a democratic system. He said it is a cover for criminals who flee from the Federal government.

For him, the election in Tigray violates the constitution. The election is a tool to extend TPLF’s power in the region, he added.

Furthermore, Mr. Aregawi remarked on demonstrated militarism in the region. “The group hiding in Tigray is beating a drum for war and it is wrong to think that it will conduct a democratic election,” he said.

Tigray regional state has already started voter registration and election date is set to be September 9.

What form of intervention?

The party is not specific as to what kind of sanctions to be imposed.  But it said that the Federal government and the people should stop the election in a “peaceful way” to avert an impending national crisis.

Tigray Democratic Party recommended that the Federal government needs to ensure that the money to be spent on the election is rather allocated for development projects. However, the party is unclear as to how the Federal government could enforce that without a confrontation with Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) led government in the region.

Background story on the election

TPLF has demonstrated a commitment to being difficult for the Abiy Ahmed led Federal government. Usually, it does so in the name of defending the constitutional system and the Federal government or in the name of defending the interest of the people of Tigray.

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) ruled out conducting the scheduled election — it was meant to happen this month — due to the coronavirus situation in the country, the spread of which increasing at an alarming rate.

The board consulted with the Ethiopian Parliament which was convinced that the election could not take place as before the coronavirus disease was declared to be no more threat.

The House of Federation recommended a constitutional inquiry to resolve constitutional limbo caused by the cancellation of the scheduled election.

Following a constitutional interpretation exercise to find a legal ground to postpone the election, the Inquiry Commission recommended to the House that Election be held between nine months to one year after a relevant authority confirmed that the Coronavirus disease is no longer a public health emergency.

Consequently, the House of Federation extended the powers of federal and regional councils until the aforementioned time.

TPLF rejected the decision. Initially, Abiy Ahmed remarked, firmly, that no illegal election would take place in any part of the country and the Federal government would enforce the law to that effect.

When TPLF escalated militarism, demonstrating military parades in Mekelle and other parts of Tigray region, Abiy Ahmed changed his position. He said, “TPLF can conduct an election but the result will not be accepted if an opposition party wins it.” 

With the level of repression that opposition parties claim in the Tigray, the prospect for opposition parties in the region to win the election is nil.

Despite opposition party calls for it, it remains questionable if the Federal government will take action against the regional state in Tigray.

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