Ethiopia’s National Electoral Board (NEBE) disclosed on Wednesday that it has received a request from Tigray regional state Council to organize an election in the region for the 6th general election in the country.
In a response statement issued on June 24, the Board recalled that the Ethiopian Upper House (House of Federation) has passed a decision on June 10 to extend the terms of the Federal and Regional House Representatives until after 9 to 12 months after a relevant authority declares that Coronavirus poses no risk to the country.
The decision came after a constitutional interpretation by the Constitutional Inquiry Commission completed hearing, based on a request from the Federal Parliament, and recommended to the House of Federation.
It was NEBE that brought to the attention of the parliament the risk that COVID 19 posed to safely conduct the general election when the chairman appeared in the House to report that the Board had consulted with stakeholders regarding the Coronavirus situation to see if the Board can go ahead with the schedules prepared to conduct the sixth national election. As it turns out, the pandemic situation did not allow that to happen. NEBE took its responsibility, in connection with the constitutional time frame of the election, off its shoulder when it reported the matter to the Federal parliament.
In a response to Tigray regional state, which highlighted the circumstances that led to the cancellation of the scheduled election, the statement from the Board said that “National Electoral Board of Ethiopia will not organize an election in any part of Ethiopia unless the COVID 19 situation in the country is evaluated to prove that there are conditions that could make holding elections possible.”
Furthermore, the Board said it is the only institution with a constitutional right to register political parties, monitor, administer, prepare election schedules, and conduct a free and fair election. Tigray regional state council does not have a legal right to pass a decision to conduct an election or to execute a decision to conduct an election, NEBE stated in its statement.
NEBE also rejected the Tigray region’s request, based on its statement, to provide the region with a human and material resource to conduct the election in the region.
The news of the Tigray region’s request to NEBE and the latter’s decision came as a mediation effort by Ethiopian Elders Mediation Council is underway to reconcile the Federal government and Tigray regional state.