Opposition Parties Plan Hunger Strike over Election Law Changes

ADDIS ABEBA – Officials of opposition political parties plans to hold a two-day hunger strike protesting the recently approved Electoral and Political Parties Proclamation.

Ethiopian lawmakers revised election laws in mid-August to pave the way for polls next year.

Some opposition parties are still saying the changes would make it more difficult for them to challenge the ruling coalition.

The lawmakers amended the number of signatures required to register a national political party to 10,000, up from 1,500. Regional parties will have to secure 4,000 signatures, up from 750.

After several press briefings opposing the law, they – about 70 parties – are now planning to hold a hunger-strike.

“The strike will be held for two consecutive days starting from Oct 17,” said Mulugeta Abebe, the parties’ representative in a press conference on Wednesday.

The strike is against the proclamation that they deemed “unconstitutional” and part of a “conspiracy” that aimed at narrowing the political landscape.

The strike is expected to be held by the party officials and their supporters in the capital Addis Ababa and the regional offices.

The parties want the provisions to be amended again by parliamentarians, who will begin their final year as of Monday.

The government has been giving a deaf ear for their repeated appeal so far, said Mulugeta, who is also a vice president of All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP).

“We ask the parliamentarians, who will convene next week, to look into their request,” he said, adding they will hold the hunger strike, should they choose to ignore their request.

The parties will also hold a public demonstration if the legislative body doesn’t give them a solution, he added.

The parties have demanded the annulment of at least 20 articles and the amendment of 13 others in the electoral law which they say are suppressive.

By Sisay Sahlu