Ethiopia will hold its postponed 6th general elections in May or early June 2021, a government official said on Tuesday.
Soliana Shimelis, the communication adviser of the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), said preparations are underway.
The Ethiopian national elections scheduled for August, 2020 were postponed due to the threat posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. The postponement was a controversial move for Ethiopian political parties, especially the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) which held regional elections unilaterally, in defiance of the federal government’s decision to postpone the polls.
Shimelis’ comments come despite opposition parties’ complaint that a government crackdown against their officials had disrupted plans to prepare for the polls.
The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) said almost all of its leaders and party officials are under arrest, while its offices including the main office in the capital Addis Ababa are either “ransacked, closed or are under state under control.”
The government has not responded to these allegations.
Another opposition party Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) has also announced that it was going to be difficult for it to take part in the upcoming election with its leaders and members in jail.
Its prominent member Jawar Mohammed and the party’s deputy chairman Bekele Gerba were arrested in June following protests that broke out after the murder of popular musician Hachalu Hundessa.
They are both facing terror charges among others.
The Ethiopian government accuses them of inciting violence and “trying to alter the constitutional order.”
Meanwhile, NEBE on Friday December 11, 2020, invited interested local Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to submit their application to partake as local observers in the upcoming 6th general elections.
The board said local CSOs, as observers to an election, will play a great role in making the upcoming general election free, fair and independent.
NEBE also said it has already approved an election observers’ code of conduct, which provides a guide to the relation between the board and local CSOs.
The board invited legally registered non-profit and non-governmental CSOs, free from any political leaning, to submit their application.
Election officials expect at least 50 million people will vote to elect members of the House of Peoples Representatives, national parliament, and regional state councils.
Since coming to power in 2018 Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has promised to ensure free and fair elections.
Election officials postponed the poll, which had been scheduled to be held this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.