ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopia’s upper house of parliament approved on Wednesday a resolution that allows federal and regional state councils to continue functioning beyond their terms.
The parliamentary and regional elections had been planned for August, ahead of the end of incumbent Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s term in October.
But Country’s electoral board postponed delayed beyond the term of the incumbent parliament due to the COVID-19 pandemic – creating a dilemma for which the constitution does not offer a clear solution.
The lower house of parliament chose to interpret the constitution to devise a solution for the impasse and directed its resolution to the House of Federation (HoF) which is mandated to do so based on the constitutional inquiry council’s recommendation.
– Majorty Support –
Despite protest that saw the resignation of its speaker, the HoF held its second regular meeting that voted on the recommendation on Wednesday morning.
Members of the HoF voted for the resolution that extended terms of the councils by up to at least nine months was tabled by the constitutional interpretation and identity affairs standing committee of the House until the next election.
The House approved the resolution by 114 votes in favor, four against and one abstention.
The approved resolution also proposes the 6th general election to be held within 9 months to 1 year if concerned bodies confirm that the pandemic will no longer cause damage to the nation.
– Call for Patience –
On Monday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed urged the opposition members to be patient amid concerns that the postponement of elections will stoke political tension.
“If the election is extended, it is only by months, so the opposition parties need to have the patience for a few months, prepare and within the time-frame given by the electoral board, carry out a democratic election that is acceptable by all,” Abiy said while addressing the parliamentarians.
Hours after his appearance before the parliament, speaker of the HoF, Keria Ibrahim, announced her resignation accusing Abiy’s administration of taking away Ethiopians’ sovereign rights, without elaborating.
Some see this as a sign of growing tension between her party and the government.
Speaker Keria Ibrahim is also a top official in Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), one of the country’s major political parties that have opposed the postponement.
Last month, TPLF, which is also the governing party for the country’s Tigray region, threatened to organize polls for the area in defiance of the postponement, potentially setting the region on a collision course with the federal government.
Some opposition members have called for a transitional government. The ruling Prosperity Party opposed the postponement of the election, Abiy said.