BY ELIAS MESERET | AP
Ethiopia’s prime minister faces an extra year or more in office after lawmakers voted Wednesday to extend their mandates and hold the national election 9 to 12 months after health authorities determine it’s safe.
Some in the opposition have objected to delaying the vote for the coronavirus as no one knows when the pandemic will end or whether the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will seek further postponements.
Wednesday’s decision is necessary “as long as COVID-19 continues to pose a health risk,” the Ethiopian News Agency quoted lawmakers with the upper house of parliament as saying.
They approved the recommendation of the Constitutional Inquiry Committee that had sought a solution as mandates were set to end in October. The vote had been scheduled for August.
Ethiopia’s election will be the first chance for Africa’s second-most populous country to weigh in on Abiy’s dramatic political reforms since he took office in 2018.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year but has faced growing intercommunal violence, demands by some ethnic groups or regions for more autonomy and allegations of new abuses by security forces.
The election delay is expected to cause more friction with a more outspoken opposition.
Ethiopia’s electoral board already has said it can’t register voters because of the pandemic.
The country as of Wednesday had more than 2,300 COVID-19 cases.
#Ethiopia's House of Federation decided to:
☞ Extend Federal and Regional Councils' term (indefinitely until #COVID19 declared no more a threat plus 9 up to 11 months for election preparation).
☞ No limits to executive power.
— Befeqadu Z. Hailu | በፍቃዱ ዘ. (@befeqe) June 10, 2020
#Ethiopia: Members of the House of Federation today approved the term extensions of members of parliament, the House of Federation and regional councils, as well as federal and regional executive bodies, until the upcoming elections are held. https://t.co/0PKYm9eGn7
— Addis fortune (@addis_fortune) June 10, 2020
Keria Ibrahim OUT, Aden Farah IN …
— ⓉⓃ (@tesfanews) June 10, 2020