Ethiopia to hold sixth national election on June 21

Ethiopia elections

Supporters of Prosperity Party are seen holding Ethiopian national flags and the party’s flag in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on May 7,2021 during the electoral campaign rally for the general elections. 

Photo credit: Amanuel Sileshi | AFP

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (Nebe) on Thursday announced that it will hold the sixth national election on June 21.

Last Saturday, the Chairman of the Electoral Board, Birtukan Mideksa, told political parties representatives that national election will not be conducted on June 5.

Low voter registration, logistical challenges, security concerns in distributing poll materials, training of electoral staff, and more time needed to print ballot papers were major arguments Ms Mideksa gave as reasons for postponing the election.

She then announced that the voting day will be delayed for two to three weeks, further inviting political parties to submit their proposals.

The election was originally scheduled for August last year however it was postponed due to Covid-19.

At a press conference, the electoral board spokeswoman Solyana Shimeles declared that the upcoming general elections will be held on Monday June 21, 2021 in areas where voters’ registration has been completed.

Nebe has extended the voter registration date multiple times due to what it says is "negligence on the part of various regional governments" in opening constituency offices, delaying the registration of candidates and transportation problems.

Last week, the Electoral Board announced that 36,245,444 people had received their voter registration cards. Out of this number, 16.6 million are women.

The board has previously estimated that 50 million citizens would receive a voter registration card. According to the Electoral Board, Gambella, Addis Ababa, Somali and Afar regions received more voter cards than expected.

Low voter registration has taken place in Benishangul Gumuz region that borders Sudan.

In the troubled war-torn northern Tigray region that borders Eritrea, election has been postponed indefinitely. In Oromia, the main opposition parties have boycotted the election until their imprisoned members are released.

Last week, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, said that they were facing some challenges in preparing for elections.  He, however, promised that his government would do its best to hold free and fair elections.

"I want to assure the Ethiopian people that we are doing our best to hold free, fair and transparent elections," he said.

Following the June election, Ethiopia will form a new government in September.