Politicians discuss fate of Ethiopia amid election suspension

Following the suspension of the upcoming July general election because of COVID-19, which forced the country to declare a state of emergency for five months, the Government of Ethiopia has presented a study to political parties with four potential options on the way forward.

The options aim to address legally how Ethiopia should be governed and by whom after the current parliament mandate expires. The fact that the mandate of the current ruling party will be concluded during the first week of next October has led the government of the reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to launch a study on the future direction.

The study presented on Wednesday at the Prime Minister office to representatives of opposition political parties by Deputy Attorney General, Gedion Timotiwos (PhD) has proposed four legal options based on the constitution of the country. The options looked into how the current government legally operates when the five years period it was elected to rule the country expires soon.

Among the issues raised during the discussion include, maintaining the current strength of Ethiopian government in the face of multiple challenges the country is facing, from any external aggression, to internal sabotage and some politicians engaged in stabilizing the country by affiliating with external forces.

Dissolving the parliament, declaring state of emergency, revising the constitution, and seeking constitutional interpretation on the way forward are the four options presented by Dr. Gedion, who presented the strengths and weaknesses of each options.

As televised on the state broadcaster ETV later, during the discussion some of the opposition leaders preferred the fourth option, which is ‘seeking constitutional interpretation’. While others suggested if it is possible to merge the fourth option with the third option ‘revising the constitution’.

Some have also suggested to get the copy of the study and come back with their views. Addisalem Balema (PhD), representing Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) and Merera Gudina (Professor) from Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) have suggested the need to approach the issue in spirit of reaching political consensus instead of addressing it with only legal measures.

“In continuation of COVID_19 state of emergency, consultations with leaders of political parties, we met again this morning to explore the various constitutional options for conducting the next elections. Quite fruitful, these types of discussions support the democratization process in Ethiopia,” Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed twitted after attending the discussion.