September 21, 2021
Conflict-torn Ethiopia said Monday it would not hold polling in at least 26 constituencies during the next round of landmark national polls due to security issues.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party secured a new five-year term in the first round in June by claiming 410 out of 436 contested seats in the federal parliament.
But logistical challenges and insecurity led to delays in some areas, and a second round of voting is planned for September 30.
More than seven million voters can choose representatives for 47 federal parliamentary seats and 105 regional ones, electoral board spokeswoman Solyana Shimeles said Monday.
However 18 constituencies in Amhara region and eight in Oromia region will not vote now, Solyana said.
Amhara has been scarred by fighting between government troops and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) rebel group, while Oromia is grappling with an insurgency by the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA).
Polling will also not take place in some constituencies in the Afar and Benishangul-Gumuz regions, the electoral board said, without specifying how many.
“Basically we felt like some of the regions, they do have other priorities, so they won’t be able to give logistical support for electoral operations in their region,” Solyana said.
“We have not decided how and when the election will be held in these places. However, since the number of constituencies is small, we will decide when to hold the election collectively together,” she said.
Ethiopia has 547 constituencies nationally, but the electoral board has written off plans to hold elections in Tigray, which is currently mostly under TPLF control.
Ethiopia’s new government is set to be formed on October 4.
Solyana said the electoral board was aiming to release the results of the September 30 polls by October 10.
Abiy came to power in 2018 on the back of several years of anti-government protests and promised to break from Ethiopia’s authoritarian past in part by holding the most democratic elections the country had ever seen.
The ruling coalition that preceded Abiy claimed staggering majorities in the two previous elections, which observers said fell far short of international standards for fairness.
A more open vote in 2005 saw big gains for the opposition but led to a lethal crackdown on protests over contested results.
This year some opposition parties, notably in Abiy’s native Oromia region, opted to boycott the polls, complaining that their candidates have been arrested and their offices vandalised.