Ethiopian MPs Vote to Delay National Census for Third Time

ADDIS ABEBA – Ethiopia’s parliament has voted to postpone the national census for the third time on Thursday, citing the current noble coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as a reason.

Ethiopia is due to hold a national vote sometime this year, and the census – already postponed twice from 2017 and 2019 – is a crucial step towards demarcating constituencies.

Their reasons for the previous delays were the upsurge in ethnic conflicts that led, according to the UN, millions to be homeless.

The COVID-19 pandemic, that infected 2670 people and claimed 40 lives in the country – was a major reason for the government to delay the general election.

Thursday’s bill also claims the situation is not right to conduct the fourth population and housing census.

One member opposed the vote on the decision to postpone the census “without any discussion”.

“The government using the COVID-19 as an advantage” not to carry out its duties, she said.

Tagesse Chafo, speaker of the lower house of parliament, said previous censuses had major defects, and those mistakes should not be repeated.

“The current pandemic will not help us collect adequate and correct data,” he said, “delaying it is therefore necessary”.

The bill to delay the census eventually passed with a majority vote of parliamentarians in from both the upper and lower houses while 5 and 12 members voting against and abstaining votes.

The ratified bill requires for country’s central statistics office to conduct the census within the coming two years.

Ethiopia’s last census was in 2007, and the constitution requires one every 10 years.

By Sisay Sahlu

Featured Image: Speaker of the lower house of parliament Tagesse Chafo [Photo HoPR]