National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) said it has declined a request from four individuals asking the Board for registration certificate of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) as a regional political party based in the Tigray regional state.
In a letter signed by Birtukan Mideksa, Chairwoman of NEBE, the Board said that an individual by the name Gebre Michael Tesfay and three other unnamed individuals requested the Board to be granted the name TPLF as regional party. The request was submitted along with a list of “120 founding members” in a letter to the Board on 29 May 2023. The Board said it investigated the request based on relevant provisions of Proclamation number 1162/2019 of the Ethiopian Electoral, Political Parties Registration and Election’s Code of Conduct Proclamation.
Based on article 86/1 of the proclamation, which stipulates “the designation of any political party shall not be similar to or create confusion with the designation of another political party and shall be the sole designation of the party”, the Board said it found the request to be invalid.
NEBE further said given it is clear that there “was” a party called TPLF and known among regional and national constituencies for many years, if the individuals were to establish a new party by the same name, it will “confuse voters”, therefore leading to NEBE to decline the request fielded by Gebre Michael Tesfay and the others.
It is recalled that in a decision issued on 13 May the Board had declined to reinstate TPLF’s re-registration as a political party on grounds that it is not supported by the electoral law. The decision followed TPLF’s request to the Board to reverse its January 2021 decision cancelling the party on the grounds it was engaged in armed struggle.
TPLF said that the war was brought to an end with the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA) signed between the government and the TPLF in Pretoria on 02 November last year, following by a vote by the House of Peoples Representatives (HoPR) on 22 March 2023 that has de-listed TPLF from the terrorist designation.
Regardless, the Board declined the request and said that “even though the armed violence that was the reason for the board’s decision as stated in the party’s letter no longer exists, there are no provisions in Proclamation number 1162/2019 to restore the legal personality to the party.”
Both the Tigray Interim Administration and the TPLF rejected the Board’s decision as unacceptable both legally and politically, living the fate of the party in a legal limbo. The Interim Administration led by Getachew Reda warned that such decision by the Board “renders the peace agreement meaningless,” and “denies the recognition of the senior leaders of the TPLF, who are participating in the inclusive interim administration on behalf of the TPLF.”