3 August 2019
by YONAS ABIYE
With uncertainty surrounding the upcoming general election, The House of People’s Representatives (HPR) has passed the decision to postpone local elections and the election of the Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa city councils,which it has done for the second time,to be carried out along with the upcoming 6th General Elections scheduled for May 2020.
Members of the House voted on the bill to extend the elections of the two councils and the local election after they were called back from recess for that very purpose. The voting came after a request was made by the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) to postpone the election owing to the need to recruit, train and organize election executors or election bodies.More so, institutional reforms are underway at a regional level, the Board argued.
The resolution, hence,decided for the elections to be held alongside the upcoming General Election planned for May, 2020; while highlighting why the postponement of the elections once again by another year is unavoidable. It is to be recalled that, last year, the House has passed a resolution to postpone the election of the two city administrative councils and the local election by one year.
Noting that NEBE is going through a comprehensive reform process, Members of Parliament pointed out that conducting the administrative councils’and local elections along with the General Election will ensure a free, fair and democratic election.
Presented by the House Speaker Tagesse Chaffo, the resolution was passed unanimously by the House, without encountering a serious challenge from the 305 MPs present for the voting.
It can also be recalled that the tenures of both governments and local administration shad ended in July 7, 2018. The latest rescheduling will mean that the two cities will be ruled by un elected officials for two years in a row.However, the parliament had to, one more, extend the time table due to the on-going political instability in the country.
Furthermore, the resolution also cited in sufficient preparation time for the postponement of the elections.
In spite of reports claiming NEBE might have been behind the extension, the Board stated that it is actually the Ethiopian government which has initiated the proposed changes in the election timetable.
The necessary prerequisite activities that were carried out to reorganize the Board, preparation of the draft bills as well as the recruitment process to fill the remaining members of the NEBE took more time, the government had noted.
The latest move comes amid various groups questioning the legitimacy of the current Addis Ababa City administration, which is being governed by a non-elected deputy mayor Takele Uma (Eng.). Prominent among these groups is the Bale adera Mikr bet (Transitional Council), an organization advocating for the autonomy of Addis Ababa city.
It is to be recalled that,Takele was appointed to run Addis Ababa (under the Deputy Mayors rank) but was granted a full-fledged Mayor roles and powers,as it is bestowed by the city charter to the Mayor.
A day before Takele’s appointment–as the first non-elected deputy mayor–the parliament passed a proposed draft bill to amend the Addis Ababa City Administration Charter. The newly amended charter granted— any individual (even outside of the council) believed to be capable– the right to be appointed as deputy Mayor of Addis Ababa.
Similarly, a week after the amendment of Addis Ababa’s charter, the House approved a similar draft bill amending Dire Dawa’s Charter. Likewise, this revision allowed Dire Dawa to appoint its Deputy May or from an elected or none elected members of its council.
Previously, the elections for the two city administrative councils and the local elections used to be conducted together with the General elections. However,in the aftermath of the deadly political turmoil and protest that followed the disputed 2005 general election, conditions has called for the three elections to be separated from the General election.
The then key political contender, Coalition for Democracy (CUD), won all seats of the Addis Ababa City council. However, CUD refused to take over Addis Ababa city’s administration claiming that the votes for the HPR have been rigged by the ruling party.After the arrest of CUD officials, the HPR decided upon the request made by the late Prime Minister,Meles Zenawi that Addis Ababa City be governed by a transitional administration (Bale Adera gov’t).