The Chairperson of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), Birtukan Mideksa, made a statement after a meeting with political party representatives, saying that the general election was postponed due to “problems in completing the printing of ballot papers, determining ballot box officials and compiling voter records”.
Following the initial postponement of the general election, on 20 August 2020, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) did not recognize the Abiy administration and held elections in the Tigray region, increasing the tension in the country. Since the entry of Ethiopian federal forces into Tigray in November 2020, thousands of people have lost their lives and millions have fled their homes to neighboring countries. It is known that a US envoy also discussed the issue with Ethiopian officials during his regional visit last week.
The Ethiopian general election was initially planned to be held on 20 August 2020, but was eventually postponed to 5 June 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the postponement of the election, the decision has become the second to have come in the past year. Although officials have said that the procedures should lead to the election in no more than three weeks, a specific date has not been given as of yet.
As the Ethiopian general election approaches, there are important developments both in the domestic and foreign policy dimensions. Developments in domestic politics include the intermittent protests seen in different regions of the country, especially in Oromia, and the continuation of armed conflicts through the political exclusion of the TPLF from the Ethiopian administration and elections. In terms of foreign policy, issues such as the increase of international pressure due to the Tigray crisis, the failure of the GERD negotiations, and border problems with Sudan can be listed as factors leading to a fragility in the Abiy government and domestic politics in the country.