Tigrai state Deputy President Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael said the Tigray regional government will conduct individual elections. In a statement to the state-owned media, Dr. Debretsion said that if it is not possible to hold elections at the national level, consultation should be made between the public and political parties.
The head of the Prosperity Party (pp) spokesman Awelu Abdi led by the federal government, for his part said the Tigray Regional State cannot hold elections in the region; He warned that if the TPLF hold an elections, the government would take necessary action.
Ethiopian regions cannot hold elections without federal approval
On 31 March, the electoral board announced that it could not keep to the August 2020 election schedule. On 4 May, Tigray ruling party’s politburo said it would hold polls regardless.
Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), depicting itself as the true guardian of the constitution, appears to want to show that the ruling Prosperity Party (PP) is violating the constitution to stay in power using the global pandemic as a pretext. For example, Fortune quoted TPLF MP Adhana Haile, as saying the postponement was premature because the virus had not taken hold in Ethiopia.
These events occurred after 29 April when the government had a discussion with contending political parties under the theme ‘COVID-19, deferring election and legal solutions’ and proposed four solutions. On 30 April, following the electoral board recommendation, parliament directed the agenda to the Legal, Justice and Administration Affairs Standing Committee for further scrutiny.
Consequently, in this scenario, regions cannot hold a legitimate general election without approval of the electoral board and the house. If any of the regional states wants to conduct a regional general election, the possible approach could be Article 7(2) of Proclamation No. 1162/2019. This provision does give the electoral board some flexibility, so that if the board were to deem it necessary, and if the parliament approved, polls could be held.
The next question is, how long could an interim government keep its legitimacy? Obviously, it should be until the danger is over, and one of the hardest political questions will be how to decide when the virus is sufficiently played out that it is safe to hold elections and return to normal. But regarding the specific period in which a vote must be held once the emergency is over, the constitution is ambivalent.