The Election Conundrum: Ethiopia’s Determination to hold the 6th National Election and its Ramifications

The Election Conundrum: Ethiopia’s Determination to hold the 6th National Election and its Ramifications

June, 2021

naol befkadu

The official NEBE logo of the 6th National Election with the hashtag “Via Election Only”

It was Abraham Lincoln, the US president during the civil war, who famously said, “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision.” However, Abraham Lincoln did not consider at least two things. One is that the case for Africa is different, and the other is that when a pandemic hits the world, it changes a lot of things.

Ethiopia was not the only nation to postpone its election in 2020. In fact it is among 78 countries around the world that should have undertaken elections in 2020 but were forced to postpone due to the pandemic. The 6th Ethiopian national election was expected to be held on August 29, 2020, but due to the pandemic it was indefinitely postponed until further notice from the Ministry of Health regarding the course of the pandemic. In December 2020, the Ministry of Health announced that the election could take place with necessary COVID-19 related precautions. Hence, the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) planned for the polls to open on June 5th 2021. In early May the NEBE claimed that facilities were not ready for the election to take place on time, and rescheduled for June 21, 2021.

There are many sides to the story of the election. Some believe that the election is a sham and should not take place while others adamantly support it. By now the situation in Ethiopia has been internationalized with so many spectators now accustomed to inserting their feet into it. The true picture of the country is yet to be unveiled to the international community who seem to be concerned with the recent situation in Ethiopia.

Before I go deep into the opinions surrounding the 6th national election and the situation in the country in the general, it is necessary to have a sense of the background; hence, I will try to briefly paint the main events in the life of the country in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Brief Background to the Story: From the Student Movement to the Qerroo Revolution

Most scholars agree that the 20th century was the bloodiest and the most revolutionary century in Ethiopia’s history, politically speaking. The country endured an invasion by Italy (1930-35); a student movement that in 1974, brought down the monarchical government of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie Ⅰ, the longest reigning emperor of Ethiopia; the ‘Red Terror’ massacre that took the lives of hundreds of thousands; the civil war that resulted in the downfall of the Derg regime (1974-1991); and the devastating Ethiopian-Eritrean war of 1998-2000.

While all those events are thought to have left a significant blueprint on the course of the country, there are three events that take the lion’s share in shaping political ideology, government structure and the economic model of the country. They are the 1970s student movement that took the voice of the peasants to the streets and to academia; the establishment of a communist government by a leading military junta (post-1974); and the downfall of the Derg regime by the joint force of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary and Democratic Front (EPRDF).

Photo taken during a rally of Addis Ababa University students in the 1970s holding a banner that reads “Popular Government Must Be Established.”

The 1970s student movement brought down the centuries-old Abyssinian monarchical system. The goal of the movement was twofold. Firstly, to bring an end to the feudalistic system that abused peasants all over the country. This feudalistic system had been in operation in the country for many centuries. With the dominant ruling Amhars tribe operating all over the country collecting unfair taxes from the peasants, the country was led by monarchs and autocrats who claim to have descended from the line of Judah. The student movement stood against such irrational notions.

Secondly, beside the class struggle, the student movement also had another goal which was a national struggle. Although the country was made up of 87 nations, only the Abyssinians—comprising the Amharas and Tigres, who are historically the northern highland settlers—were dominant politically, culturally and economically. Hence, the student movement also brought to the fore the question of nations and nationalities and different ethnic and religious groups. A great example of these questions was the paper titled, “On the Questions of Nations and Nationalities of Ethiopia” by Wallelign Mekonnen, at the time a student at Haile Selassie I University. This paper is thought to be groundbreaking with its pioneering introduction of equality and recognition of nations and nationalities for different groups in the country.

In light of this student-led movement in the 1970s, we assumed what the course of the country in the following decades would look like. Contrary to our expectation, the road to the fulfillment of the voices and cries of the 1970s generation (it is usually regarded as ‘The Then Generation’) was not smooth and easy. Many lives were taken and many are still sacrificing for their rights at the time of writing this article.

Following the 1970s revolution, the military acted out and the last emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie I, was overthrown in 1974. A transient military junta was created with Mengistu Hailemariam as president of the transitional government also known as “Derg”. Though the Derg was a military junta, it had a political manifesto and acted as a political entity. Most of the early 1970s elites also directly supported the regime. With a growing communist trend in the world, the military government of Ethiopia had been associated with communism and became one of the foremost advocates of communist ideology. Church and state were separated and the government officially declared itself atheist. This was in direct contradiction to the history of the country, mostly that of the Abyssinians who, for centuries had anointed Kings and Queens with an ordination of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

The Derg, although initially supported by the 1970s elites, gradually lost credibility from the enlightened groups in the country when the military government became totalitarian and started attacking those who opposed its ideology. Mengistu Hailemariam, the president of the communist regime, became another dictator that Africa had to witness. However, Mengistu also faced many challenges. From the East, the Western Somalia Liberation Front (WSLF) under Siad Barre tried to invade Ethiopia’s Ogaden region. In the North, the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) and Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) had been waging war to declare their freedom. And in the West, the Oromo Liberation Front had already started conquering land.

While the Ogaden war of 1978-79 ended with Ethiopia claiming victory, the Northern war continued for more than a decade. The war in the North between the communist regime and the liberation forces took on the nature of a civil war. Many ethnic forces also joined the liberationist camps and jointly fought the communist regime. Eventually, the communist military junta also known as Derg, gave up and the EPRDF took power in 1991.

The Derg military junta that ruled the country from 1974 to 1991 was overthrown by the joint forces of EPRDF, EPLF and OLF. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) dominated the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary and Democratic Front (EPRDF), which took power on the famous day of May 28, 1991. EPRDF expelled OLF of Oromia and eventually separated with the EPLF of Eritrea. EPRDF was then a party comprised of four big chapters, namely: the aforementioned Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM), Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO), and the Southern People’s Democratic Movement (SPDM).

The coming to power of EPRDF was another dramatic change that took place in 20th century Ethiopia, because EPRDF made several changes to the nature of the country. Regarding the economy, the country started following a free-market system in principle and a mixed system in practice. Following the revolution the country also changed its structure from unitary to a federal state that was divided into nine (now ten) self-administering regional states. This was in line with the demands of the student movement in the 1970s. Hence, many ethinc groups were recognized and their languages and cultures were appreciated under the EPRDF system.

This was mainly made possible through the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia’s 1995 constitution. The revolution handed the people a constitution that guaranteed human rights and religious freedom and promised free and fair elections. It was ratified in December 1995. It was the first of its kind in Ethiopia, which has had three constitutions. Of the three, the 1995 constitution was different with its liberal, democratic and inclusive nature. However, some still critiqued it saying the constitution gives undue attention to collective rights such as the rights of nations, nationalities and people, while focusing less on the individual rights of citizens. For an outsider it seems EPRDF had already answered the two big questions of the 1970s generation. Not so fast. In practice, there were many shortcomings of EPRDF’s system.

The TPLF, the dominant party in the EPRDF, although representing the Tigray region that comprised only 6% of the total population, ruled the country with an iron fist for two decades, through its longtime leader and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia the late Meles Zenawi. The Oromia and Amhara regions, which comprise the two largest ethnic communities in the country, who go by the same name respectively, were sidelined by the TPLF. Their organizations OPDO and ANDM were also nothing more than puppets that followed their master TPLF even though they represented a huge constituency compared to TPLF. It is worth remembering here that the TPLF dominated the EPRDF and had expelled the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) who moved military operations outside Ethiopia, mainly from Eritrea, Sudan and Kenya’s jungles into central Ethiopia.   

The TPLF-led regime faced many challenges after taking power in 1991. Among them was the 2005 election where post-election riots resulted in many deaths in the capital Addis Ababa. Moreover, with its longstanding leader and longtime Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Melese Zenawi dying in 2012, the EPRDF faced huge challenges especially with regards to replacing the longtime leader. Eventually, Hailemariam Dessalegn of SPDM succeeded the late prime minister.

It has been said that Hailemariam Desselegn did not really act as a prime minster, but rather was a marionette, a puppet, to say the least. It was the TPLFites who, behind the curtain, held the leading role. Hailemariam Dessalegn faced a huge popular protest especially after the announcement of the Addis Ababa Integrated Master Plan (AAIMP) in 2014. The AAIMP was a project intended to expand Addis Ababa’s border into the surrounding Oromia cities. This created a huge backlash from the young Oromos also called Qerroo (‘young man’ in Oromo language).

Oromo youths also known as Qerroos crossing their hands in public to display their discontent

The Qerroos became the anthem of another popular revolution in the country. They became the motor of the 21st century revolution, perhaps the largest by constituency and scale,that the country has ever seen.  The protests engulfed the universities of the country and the Hailemariam government tried to silence the protests using force, which resulted in the death of more than 5,000 Qerroos in four years. Here it is also worth mentioning the role of diaspora media and influential people like Jawar Mohammed, the notable activist and director of the frontline media of the protest, the Oromia Media Network (OMN).

The protests that erupted in Oromia later spread to the whole country, with other protests and long silenced voices being heard across many regions and towns. The protests cost too much, however, after four years they bore fruit with the resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn as Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

The protests were also supported by the OPDO and ANDM authorities because of the visible problems that were occurring in the country. The OPDO and ANDM officials secretly formed a resistance team named after Lemma Megersa, the then president of the Oromia region. ‘Team Lemma’ as it was later called, operated in communication with the protestors to bring an end to TPLF’s hegemony. It should also be noted that cooperation between Amhara and Oromo was not expected by the TPLF because of the nature of the dominant political ideologies of the two camps. The Amharas favored a Unitarian set-up in the country, while the Oromos were adamant with regards to an ethno-linguistic federal structure. While the Amharas were regarded as assimilationists, the Oromos were often called “separationists”. It is through this historical discourse that the TPLF managed to lead the country as a diluting and a neutralizing agent in relation to the tensions between the Amhara and Oromo factions. However, Team Lemma proved the TPLFites wrong. The experiment to unite the Amhara and the Oromo forces was successful under Team Lemma, or at least it seemed to be.

After the resignation of Hailemariam Dessalegn, there was a huge contest between TPLF and Team Lemma over who would take over the premiership. Team Lemma, being from the Oromo chapter had the dominant hand and was favored to take the position of the prime minister. However, Lemma Megersa, the leader of Team Lemma was not a member of the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) and so couldn’t become prime minister. His deputy, Abiy Ahmed (PhD) was elected in place of Lemma to represent the Oromo faction of EPRDF (the OPDO) in the urgent meeting to replace the departing prime minister. Abiy Ahmed won the majority of votes in the EPRDF executive meeting to become the president of the party and two days later, in April 2018 Abiy Ahmed (PhD) became the first Oromo Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

Abiy Ahmed: the Voice of Synergy (Medemer)

Abiy Ahmed sounded a voice of freedom, unity and love from the first day he became prime minister. From his first day in office, he made many big moves. He released more than 40,000 prisoners and prisoners of conscience. He traveled across every region in the country and preached love and unity and promised peace, stability and freedom.

His philosophy is “medemer” roughly translated as synergy. According to Abiy Ahmed himself, medemer is nothing but a collective effort to fulfill a shared vision. He shook the country with this idea. But by far, the most extraordinary measure the prime minister took, was his reconciliation with Eritrea.

Hailemariam Dessalegn handing the Constitution to Abiy Ahmed, the incoming Prime Minister of FDRE, on the day Abiy was inaugurated.

As stated earlier, Ethiopia and Eritrea went to war over border disputes from 1998-2000, a conflict which was resolved by an intervention from the UN. In this conflict, which is regarded as one of Africa’s deadliest wars, no less than 100,000 people were killed from both sides. Since June 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea had been in a no-war no-peace state. Abiy Ahmed was able to break this silence and extended a welcoming hand to the Eritrea’s longtime president Isaias Afewerki, after 18 years!

Long story short, Ethiopia and Eritrea resolved their issues under the leadership of Abiy Ahmed which was the reason he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. 

Abiy also invited many of the exiled political figures and forces back into the country. Many of them returned to huge celebrations. Some of the most well-known returned political personalities included, Berhanu Nega (who had been expelled after the 2005 riot), Dawud Ibsa (exiled OLF leader), Jawar Mohammed and many others. While their admission to the country was a sign of democracy that was cheered and celebrated, it wasn’t without its consequences. They represented not only different popular segments of society, but also polarized political ideologies.

Abiy Ahmed inherited a severely divided country with unresolved issues. His job was to heal the division and bring the various polarized ideologies in the country to the table. However, this wasn’t without its own challenges. Primarily, the polarized politics could not help his vision of a unified country. The term ‘unity’ has been associated with a specific political side in the country, just as ‘secessionist’ has also been tied to a specific political ideology. Every speech and action of the prime minister was critically observed and interpreted by different bodies in the country.

Secondary to this was the issue with the TPLFites, which was not resolved. Since the ascension of the new prime minister, the TPLFites felt betrayed by the OPDO and ANDM who were already seen as siding with the people during the protest years. Hence, most of the TPLF members left their positions at federal level to focus on, and were limited to, their region, Tigray. Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region became the center of opposition to Abiy Ahmed’s government.

Furthermore, Abiy Ahmed’s government had also received challenges related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that was being built in the Bennishangul region of Ethiopia on the Abbay River (Blue Nile). When finished, GERD is going to be Africa’s largest hydroelectric power station. However, Ethiopia had to convince the lower Nile basin countries, particularly Egypt and Sudan, regarding the impact of the dam with regards to the content of the Nile water. Ethiopia had faced a huge challenge from the two countries prior to Abiy’s ascension to power, but was able to manage the challenges, as far as convincing Sudan to stand beside Ethiopia. However, following Abiy’s coming to power, the dynamics of the geo-politics of the horn of Africa, and East Africa in general, were yet to be unveiled.

It is with those fierce challenges in play, that Abiy Ahmed’s government decided to undergo the 6th national election in 2020.

The 6th National Election: the Postponement and its Consequences

If the reader were to travel to the countryside in Ethiopia and ask how the 6th national election is being perceived, they might get very different perspectives. Some think that the election would have significant impact in the country, while others say that the election is nothing but the usual drama of the EPRDF (now the Prosperity Party). However, no matter how many different perspectives there are surrounding the election, there is a universal desire in the Ethiopian people that this election takes place peacefully. This is because the country has been on the verge of failure ever since the postponement of the election in 2020 was announced. While the postponement was due to the pandemic, what were the results of the election’s postponement?

There are, I believe, five consequences of the postponement of the election that was supposed to take place in 2020. These consequences are the reason why the country is currently in an internationalized mess and why Abiy Ahmed went from a Nobel Laureate in 2019 to a suspected war monger and genocidal leader by the end of 2020. 

The first consequence of the postponement of the election, is the sentiment it created among different political parties in the country. The Oromo opposition parties saw the decision as the government’s way of illegitimately prolonging its term. Added to this was the already growing tension between TPLF and the government. They saw the decision by the government as a pretext to lead the country for a longer period.

Secondly, the postponement also resulted in the TPLF defying the federal order and organizing its own regional election in Tigray. The TPLF badly wanted the election because they knew if the election were to take place in August 2020, Abiy Ahmed’s party would not win because of the huge contest it would face in the Oromia region. Hence, they saw the election as the easiest way of getting rid of Abiy Ahmed’s federal government. Seeing this from afar, the federal government seemed to use the pandemic to postpone the election. In June 2020, the TPLF executive committee decided to hold the election in Tigray region, defying the federal order. The constitution was silent about the issue of organizing a regional election and the TPLFites used this loophole to establish their own election committee. The tensions between the federal government and the Tigray region grew by the day.

The Late Oromo singer and activist Hachalu Hundessa

Thirdly, the postponed election already created discontent among Oromo parties, popular figures and supporters. This eventually grew into another round of protests by the Qerroos, the Oromo youths, who had been silent for a while since the ascension of the prime minister. The Qerroos demanded change in the Oromia and the opposition parties promised huge measures if they won the election. To the contrary, the Oromia chapter of the ruling party, PP, was dormant regarding popular questions. Gradually, pressure grew on the government, resulting in popular Oromo figures finally coming out in public denouncing the government’s actions. One of the popular Oromos was Hachalu Hundessa, a musician and an activist for Oromo rights who fought with music during the Oromo Protest of 2014-2016. Hachalu Hundessa was interviewed on OMN, a media outlet dominated by opposition narratives, and he made firm claims against the prime minister and his ideologies. Two weeks after his interview was aired on OMN, Hachalu Hundessa was assassinated. The government immediately blamed TPLF and Shene (the governments’ term for the Oromo Liberation Army that is the military wing of the now returned Oromo Liberation Front). Opposition parties and political figures accused the government of assassinating Hachalu and on the same day as his death, the government initiated a crackdown on major political figures in the country. Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Hamza Borana and Dejene Tafa of the Oromo Federalist Congress party were arrested. Eskinder Nega from the Balderas party was also arrested. OLF’s party offices were also raided and major members of the party’s executive committee were thrown in jail.

But it is also wise to ask how the Oromo youths grew discontented with Abiy Ahmed, an Oromo. There are several reasons, minor and major. However, the main reason relates to Abiy’s vision of a more unitary state, which would mean dismantling the current federal system. For many, this was demonstrated by Abiy’s dissolution of the EPRDF into a new merged party named Prosperity Party (PP) in October 2019. This was a huge decision for many because Abiy dissolved the EPRDF, which had ruled the country for nearly three decades. Prosperity Party, the newly merged party, had a Unitarian outlook rather than a federalist one. This was not welcomed by the Oromo youths and the Oromo parties. In fact even Lemma Megersa, the former Oromia president, did not welcome the merger. However, Abiy pressed on with his idea of a merged party. It is onto this dissatisfaction of the Oromo youths that the government added the indefinite postponement of the election.  

The fourth consequence of the postponement of the election was the growing armed resistance in Western Ethiopia. One of the Abiy Ahmed administration’s initial decisions was to welcome exiled political figures and fronts. OLF resisted returning home even after Abiy Ahmed went to invite them back. For this reason, the then Oromia president Lemma Megersa and the then Foreign Minister of Ethiopia Workneh Gebeyehu, went to Eritrea to discuss with Dawud Ibsa, OLF’s president. They reached a verbal agreement for OLF to return to the country. Dawud Ibsa was welcomed by millions of his supporters at Addis Ababa on that historic day in September 2018, six months after PM Abiy took office. However, OLF had an army—the Oromia Liberation Army (OLA), the majority of which was stationed in Eritrea, with some in Kenya and others in Western Oromia. While those OLA soldiers returning from Eritrea were disarmed and were assimilated into the government’s training program, the Western and Southern OLA commanders did not give up their armies and the trials to disarm those fronts failed a number of times following OLF’s admission into the country. This created an increased rivalry between Abiy Ahmed’s government and OLF’s Dawud Ibsa which finally forced OLF to separate itself from OLA in April 2019. The government undertook heavy military operations to eradicate OLA from Western and Southern Oromia in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and yet they did not manage to defeat them. OLA soldiers controlled a good part of the Western and Southern Oromia in 2019 alone. However, they returned to their guerrilla warfare against the government, which continues to this day. Following the postponement of the election, OLA released a press statement saying that the government would be illegitimate after September 2020.

In the meantime, the other dangerous zone beside Western Oromia had been the Bennishangul region where Bennishangual Liberation Armies had been fighting with the federal government and the Amhara militias, resulting in the death of several civilians in the region. The Bennishangul fighters’ demands were very difficult to diagnose. However, the government linked them with the TPLF. The killings in Western Oromia and Bennishangul resulted in the last, but not the least consequence of the election’s postponement.

The last but not least consequence of the postponement of the election has been the now internationalized war in Northern Ethiopia. It was expected by many that the TPLF and federal government would go to war. TPLF became a great threat to Abiy’s administration after they held their own election in September 2020. TPLF won the election by far, after competing with some parties based in the Tigray. The federal government did not recognize the election. The TPLF then started their propaganda saying that the federal government is illegitimate. As the tension between the federal government and the Tigray region grew, both parties began holding military parades in public, week after week. Abiy made several visits to Eritrea as a warning to the TPLF, since the TPLF-led EPRDF had gone to war with Eritrea in 1998-2000 and Isaias Afewerki, president of Eritrea, wanted revenge for the losses his government suffered during the war. On November 4, 2020, Abiy Ahmed appeared on national television to declare a state of emergency in the Tigray region, saying that the TPLF militias had attacked the Northern Command base of the Ethiopian Defense Force (EDF). Abiy labeled this war ‘law enforcement’ and invited Amhara militia, Eritrea and Somalian forces to side with him. Even though many local and international organizations warned both parties before the onset of this war, nothing seemed to have been able to stop the war from happening. Day after day, both sides declared victories in their media. Three weeks into the war, Abiy Ahmed declared the ‘final’ victory on national television, after conquering Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, saying that no civilian had been injured and Eritrean forces were not involved. However, the TPLF had chosen to scatter to the remote regions of Tigray to take up guerilla warfare. In the meantime President Isaias got his longtime desire of winning over the TPLF.

Today, the simple ‘law enforcement’ that was started in November has reached its seven month, resulting in an incalculable number of deaths and a humanitarian crisis. The atrocities committed by the EDF, Amhara and Eritrean forces have been documented by major world news outlets. The issue has become a topic for the G7 and UN. Now, it is wise to pause and remember how the postponement of the election played a huge role in this devastating, and to this day, ongoing war. Despite what is happening in the country however, by the time of the writing of this article, the government is weeks away from undergoing the 6th national election.

The 6th National Election: The Expectations

By now the first question that would come to the reader’s mind might be, ‘What are Ethiopians expecting from this election?’ Well, to answer this question in short, there is not much expectation among the majority of Ethiopians in this election. Contests are expected in the Amhara region and Addis Ababa particularly. The election is not even going to take place in Somali.

NEBE’s data shows that the election is not going to take place in many places including Western Oromia, parts of Bennishangul Gumuz region, the entire Somali and Tigray regions and so on. The European Union decided not to send a committee to watch the election process after the standard EU requirements were not met by the Ethiopian government. The Biden government of the United States of America urged for a national dialogue. This came after the US decision to restrict visas for Ethiopian and Eritrean officials following the atrocities committed in the Tigray war.

The case for the Oromia region is a very different one. The Oromo people are not going to be represented in this election by any of the dominant parties since the leaders of the parties are imprisoned. Hence, only the ruling party is running for the election in Oromia, the largest region of the country.

In the Amhara region, the second largest region, there are several parties besides the Prosperity Party (PP), such as the National Movement of the Amhara (NAMA), the Enat party, EZEMA and others. The results are yet to be predicted, let alone known in the Amhara region. A huge contest is expected. However, what would this bring to Ethiopians in general? It is yet to be known.

Amhara politics is at its most complex, climactic stage. There are ethno-nationalists such as NAMA  and partly the Amhara chapter of PP (APP) who advocate for a stronger Amhara region and the respect of Amhara rights, and there are Ethio-nationalists such as EZEMA and Enat. The Ethio-nationalists seem to be losing to the ethno-nationalists based on the campaigns we see. However, the result is yet to be known. One thing both the Ethio-nationalists and the Amhara ethno-nationalists have in common is that they both plan to change the 1995 FDRE constitution.

The same is true in Addis Ababa. There are several parties running for office. EZEMA, Balderas and Prosperity Party are the three parties to have a huge contest in the city. EZEMA led by Birhanu Nega, PhD, is favored, if we can predict based on the 2005 election results where the majority of seats in Addis Ababa were won by CUD, Birhanu Nega’s party at the time. However, things have changed. Abiy Ahmed also has a huge constituency in Addis Ababa. Adanech Abebe, Addis Ababa’s mayor and a PP candidate, had a very successful campaign where many turned out en masse to support her. The Balderas Party, although younger than the above two, also has good support from the younger generation. Balderas’ campaign motto is to save Addis Ababa and to make Addis Ababa a self-governing region.

Even if the election goes well, total results cannot be known and a new government cannot be formed since there are places and regions that will not go to the polls for security and other reasons. NEBE issued a press release saying that the second part of this election will be carried out on September 6, 2021. Until then, no one can know the exact result of the election. Hence, a new government will not be formed in June.

The 6th national election of Ethiopia is then, an experiment that is going to take place with mixed feelings among Ethiopians. It will take place when Tigray is in the midst of a huge humanitarian crisis; Western Oromia is under command post; the world is watching the developments in Ethiopia closely; and a possible disintegration of the state is in the air.

Naol Befkadu, MD, is a physician based in Addis Ababa.

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