Category Archives: Corona
Opposition parties statement on election postponement
(A4O, May 4, 2020) The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has announced that it will be unable to conduct the 2020 national elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, the House of Peoples’ Representatives approved the election postponement. According to the constitution, the term of office of government is five years, which means that the current government’s constitutional mandate will come to an end on 10 October 2020. With that in mind, the government has tabled four proposals as potential remedies to manage the power vacuum that would occur when its current term expires on October 10. After a careful and considered review of the proposed alternatives, we, the undersigned parties, issue the following statement.
- The constitution makes it clear that power should be acquired only through a periodic election conducted every five years, and the term of office of a government is strictly five years. The electoral board has announced that it will not be able to conduct the election before the current government’s term of office expires. And there is no legal basis that will allow the government to legitimately remain in power past 10 October, even for a single day.
- We have carefully reviewed the four possible solutions proposed by the government to manage what would ultimately become a constitutional crisis. We have concluded that none of the presented options provide a legal basis to extend the mandate of the current government beyond its five-year term limit in the event that the national elections, albeit due to understandable reasons, are not held on time. The constitution does not allow for the declaration of a state of emergency specifically to postpone an election or extend a government’s term. The dissolution of parliament pursuant to Article 60 only allows for an election to be held prior to the expiry of the five-year term. This article cannot be invoked to allow term extensions beyond five years. Undertaking a constitutional amendment in order to add an article or clause that would allow the postponement of an election and/or the extension of term of office does not only negate the spirit of the constitution, it is a complex process that requires public debate and deliberation that cannot be undertaken during a pandemic in any meaningful way.
- The fourth option, constitutional interpretation, which is favored by the government, is not a legal and legitimate reason to postpone the election or extend the incumbent’s term. Although the House of Federation has the power to interpret the constitution, it can only do so on disputed issues contained within the constitution. Unfortunately, the constitution does not stipulate a mechanism for the postponement of elections or extension of terms of office. Furthermore, constitutional interpretation by a legislative body overwhelmingly controlled by a single party, whose members were elected through an election that we know was rigged, amounts to imposition of the will of a single party. Hence, if anything, this option erodes the legitimacy of this government even more, rather than lending it credence.
- It is our view that, in order to collectively and effectively combat the pandemic while preparing for the election, the best and only option is to seek a national consensus among political parties in order to legitimately fill the looming power vacuum.
- We would like to strongly stress that extending the term of government by any other means lacks political or legal legitimacy and could lead to a political as well as a security crisis, which the country cannot afford at a time where it needs a unified front to overcome the multifaceted challenges posed by the pandemic.
In order to find a legitimate solution for the impasse through achieving a national consensus, we believe these principles should be put into practice:
- The deliberation and negotiation should involve all political parties that are registered and qualified to participate in the 2020 election.
- The deliberation and negotiation should be facilitated by entities who do not have direct involvement in electoral affairs and do not have a vested interest in the outcome.
- The final agreement reached by the parties should be binding.
After years of struggle and sacrifice by the Ethiopian people, it was two years ago that we embarked on a transition that we all hoped would usher in a new era of democracy. Unfortunately, negotiations and deliberations which would be vital for a successful transition were not undertaken. Consequently, as we get closer to the election, tension has begun to rise and the political space has further narrowed, dashing the hopes for a successful transition to a democratic order through a free and fair election.
The postponement of the election due to the pandemic can be used as another opportunity to seriously deliberate, correct mistakes made over the last two years, and put the transition back on track. Therefore, we call upon all parties to seize this opportunity and sit for a roundtable deliberation to seek a legitimate political consensus on how to manage the constitutional crisis the country is facing. To this effect, we have prepared a detailed proposal and action plan in line with this recommendation, which we will present at the negotiation forum once it is convened upon acceptance.
Co-signing members of the Coalition of Democratic Federalism:
- Oromo Liberation Front
- Ogaden National Liberation Front
- Oromo Federalist Congress
- Agaw National Congress
- Mocha Democratic Party
- Kaffa Green Party
- Arena Tigray for Democracy and Sovereignty
Peace, Freedom & Democracy for All Peoples!
Ethiopia: Release detained journalists and opposition politicians immediately
(Amnesty International, 7 April 2020, The Ethiopian authorities must immediately release two journalists from the Oromia News Network and three Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) officials who remain in custody a week after charges against them were dropped and the court ordered their release on 31 March.
The authorities must desist from this intimidation, harassment and arbitrary detention and immediately and unconditionally release these five individuals.
Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa
“The Ethiopian authorities continue to detain five people long after the court ordered their release. The authorities must desist from this intimidation, harassment and arbitrary detention and immediately and unconditionally release these five individuals,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.
The five were charged with taking a photo at the Burayu police station, and for traffic offenses relating to an incident where a vehicle rammed into the back of the police car the arresting officers were using. The prosecutor later dropped the charges, stating none of the alleged acts were crimes under the country’s criminal law.
The police however continue to detain the individuals claiming there were irregularities with the names on their identification documents. However, they have not presented the five in court with any new charges.
The detained are Batir Filae, OLF Central Committee member; Gadaa Gabisa, OLF political officer; and Bilisuma Ararsa, OLF member. With them are Desu Dula, the Vice Director of the Oromia News Network (ONN) and Wako Nole, a journalist with the network.
For more information on the mounting harassment of OLF members and supporters, see links below.
Vendor killed after police attack opposition supporters in Oromia
Authorities crackdown on opposition supporters with mass arrests
Resolution: Conference of Oromo Civic, Professional and Faith-Based Organizations
(A4O, 28 March 2020) Whereas, the Oromo nation, Oromummaa and Oromia are being subjected to unprecedented repression by the Government of Ethiopia (GoE);
Whereas, the GoE engages in a deliberate destruction of Oromo nationalism, dismantling Oromia and reversing the victories our people achieved by heroic sacrifices of our sons and daughters;
Whereas, the GoE works in concert with neo-nafxayas who aspire to re impose their former oppressive and exploitative system;
Whereas, the GoE promotes division and conflict among the Oromo people along regional and religious lines as a strategy for its success;
Whereas, the GoE, having imposed illegal Command Posts on parts of Oromia, is subjecting the Oromo people to untold misery through military rule;
Whereas, the GoE has widened and deepened the killings, arbitrary arrests and beatings of the Oromo people;
Whereas, the GoE burns houses with families inside and granaries full of grain; and sets fire to farmlands and forests without concern for crops or wildlife;
Whereas, the GoE has deployed armed forces to continue hunting down and murder Oromo youth on a daily basis;
Whereas, the GoE continues to refuse to bring to justice those who committed ethnically motivated murders of Oromo students on the campuses of universities in the Amhara regional state,
Whereas, the GoE is not willing to provide any protection to those spared from the killings, but finds the flimsiest of excuses to suspend or dismiss Oromo students from universities;
Whereas, contrary to its promises a few months ago to widen the political space in the country, that the GoE has actually narrowed the space significantly by illegally arresting and/or causing disappearances of leaders and members of the opposition parties and by obstructing and hindering the contacts of opposition parties with their constituents;
Whereas, the GoE intimidates independent Oromo media outlets and imprisons their management and reporters for reporting the truth;
Whereas, the GoE is engaged in hunting down and arresting politically conscious Oromos for not supporting the ruling Prosperity Party of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed;
Whereas, the economic deprivation of Oromo people and robbery of the resources of Oromia by the GoE and its cronies have intensified;
Whereas, the GoE is leaving no stone unturned to demoralize and to force the Oromo nation to surrender and;
Deeply Concerned about the fate of the Oromo people and the survival of the Oromo as a nation and Oromia as land of the Oromo, if the current situation is allowed to persist;
Recognizing the need for the Oromo unity inside and outside the of country more than ever before in combating the ongoing difficult situation imposed upon our people;
We, Oromo Civic, Professional and Faith-Based Organizations, whose names are listed below and who share the aforementioned concerns about the situation of our people and our nation, having deliberated on wide-ranging issues pertaining to our people’s dire situation, and having successfully concluding our first conference from March 28-29, 2020;
1. Approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and pledge to work together to achieve our shared vision of advocating for the voiceless victims of injustices in Oromia and beyond;
2. Authorize and direct the coordinating committee, and the three others operational committees to lead our Advocacy, Information collection and dissemination, and Resource mobilization and organization efforts, to execute the MoU;
3. Strongly condemn and demand an immediate stop to the ongoing killings, arbitrary arrests, rapes and beating against the Oromo people by Ethiopia armed forces;
4. Demand the immediate lifting of the illegal and undeclared command posts and military rule imposed on Western and Southern parts of Oromia;
5. Call up on the Oromo diaspora to join us in condemning and actively opposing the ongoing repression against our people;
6. Call up on Oromo civic organizations whose names are not listed below to join us so that we can together defend our people’s rights;
7. Call up on all Oromo political organizations operating in Oromia to put their differences aside and unite in condemning the repressive policies of the GoE and, coordinate our people’s resistance to end the killings and arbitrary arrests being committed against our people;
8. Call up on all Zones of Oromia to come to the aid of their compatriots in other zones to once and for all uproot the GoE’s repressive policies which are the root causes of the poverty and misery of our people for there is strength in numbers;
9. Call up on all nations and nationalities in Ethiopia to condemn and actively oppose the killings and arbitrary arrests that the GoE is perpetrating against the Oromo and other peoples as all conflicts in one region can easily spread to their regions;
10. Call up on all organizations advocating for respect of human rights to inform the international community the untold human rights violations the Oromo people are subjected to by the GoE;
11. Remind the international community of its moral obligation and responsibility to speak up against, and to work to prevent the population exodus that is sure to ensue from the continued hunting down and killings of Oromo youth and the resulting forced migration and refugee problems;
12. Urge the international community to bring pressure to bear on the GoE to immediately stop the war it has declared on the Oromo people before the situation escalates into massive displacement, famine, civil war and genocide.
United we Stand!!
Oromo Civic, Professional and Faith-Based Organizations
2. Bilal Oromo Dawa Center
3. Canaan Oromo Evangelical Church
4. Charismatic International Fellowship Church
5. Global Gumii Oromia
6. Global Oromo Advocacy Group
7. Global Waaqeffannaa Council
8. Horn of Africa Genocide Watch
9. Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa
10. International Oromo Women’s Organization
11. International Qeerroo Support Group
12. Mana Kiristaanaa Fayyisaa Addunyaa
13. Oromo Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church
14. Oromo Communities’ Association of North America
15. Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Church of Washington DC Metropolitan Area
16. Oromo Evangelical Lutheran Mission Society
17. Oromo Human Rights and Relief Organization
18. Oromo Legacy, Leadership and Advocacy Association
19. Oromo Lutheran Church of Baltimore
20. Oromo Parliamentarians Council
21. Oromo Studies Association
22. Oromia Support Group
23. Tawfiq Islamic Center
24. Union of Oromo Communities in Canada
25. United Oromo Evangelical Church
26. Washington DC Metropolitan Oromo SDA Church
March 28, 2020