Ethiopians are headed to the polls Monday for the country’s general elections. However, voting will not occur in 20% of Ethiopia — or in 102 of the country’s 547 constituencies — due to war, civil unrest or logistical failure, reports The New York Times.
- Voters will elect members of parliament who will then appoint the prime minister and president, according to The Guardian. The final results will come within 10 days.
- This is Ethiopia’s first general election since 2015 and the first since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has come to power, said BBC.
Ethiopia’s election has high stakes for five reasons.
1. Ethiopia elections will show democratic progress (or lack of it)
The current elections have been called Ethiopia’s “first attempt at free and fair elections” by Abiy, per The Associated Press. Even with 20% of Ethiopians unable to vote, the government has defended that this election will be a “genuine reflection” of the people’s will.
- Prominent opposition parties have boycotted the elections, citing government intimidation as their reason, reported The New York Times.
Concerns have grown internationally about the conditions of the election. Ethiopia denied the European Union from observing the vote but has allowed officials from the African Union to observe, reported the AP.
- The elections have more than 40 parties running for parliament, more than any previous vote, according to The Guardian.
- Most parties are regionally or ethnically based and are not expected to be strong challengers to Abiy’s party, said The New York Times.
2. The civil war in Tigray, northern Ethiopia
Prime Minister Abiy received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 for ending long-running conflict and bringing peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea, said BBC. About one year later, Abiy launched a military operation in Tigray, a region in Northern Ethiopia.
- Seven months into the civil war, Abiy has come under international and domestic criticism for his military’s actions, reports The Guardian.
3. Famine in Tigray and nearby regions
At least 350,000 Tigrayans are in “catastrophe” conditions for famine while another 1.8 million Tigrayans are in “emergency” conditions, reported the Deseret News. This is the worst famine in Ethiopia in decades.
- Ethiopia’s humanitarian crisis will likely influence these elections and affect voters, reports The New York Times.
4. ‘Ethnic hate’ and violence across Ethiopia
Abiy claimed he will unite ethnic divisions among Ethiopia; however, an “explosion of ethnic hate” has taken place since he came to power, reports The New York Times. Ethnic violence has caused two million Ethiopians to flee their homes.
5. Economic struggles across Ethiopia
Abiy has pushed for a vision of a modern, economically strong Ethiopia. However, the country continues to struggle economically, reports The Guardian. The issue will likely impact voting.