Ethiopia: PM shifts focus from war to 2021 Election

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Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed met with political parties on Wednesday to plan next year’s election thereby shifting attention away from a month-long war in the north that was sliding into a messy guerrilla conflict.

Abiy Ahmed’s government postponed a parliamentary vote this year due to COVID-19, but Tigray region went ahead and overwhelmingly re-elected a former guerrilla movement-turned-political party the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

That defiance was one reason for the federal government’s military offensive against TPLF leaders from November 4.

The conflict is believed to have killed thousands of people, sent 45,000 refugees into Sudan, and jeopardised political reforms and opening since Abiy took office in 2018.

Africa’s youngest leader at 44 and the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner for a pact with Eritrea, Abiy was talking with political parties, civil society groups and election officials about the mid-2021 vote on Wednesday, his office said.

He took Ethiopia’s top job after nearly three decades of a TPLF-led national government, which had become increasingly repressive, jailing opponents and banning opposition parties.

Abiy removed Tigrayans from government and security posts, saying they were over-represented for an ethnic group accounting for just 6% of Ethiopia’s population. The military went in when a federal army base was ambushed in Tigray.