On September 30 the second round of elections was held in 47 Ethiopian districts, thus completing the electoral cycle which had already sanctioned the victory of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party.
Voting took place in the Somali region, in Harari and in the States of the Southern Peoples and Nationalities, while it was not possible to vote in the 64 constituencies of Tigray, given the continuing state of crisis in the entire regional state.
The completion of the electoral process – although lacking the 6 million votes of Tigray – will enable Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to form a new government as of October 4, thanks to the numbers obtained in the June and September 30 elections.
There has been no lack of dissent in the country on the occasion of the date of the vote. In the Somali region the opposition parties have decided not to run for office and to invite citizens not to go to the polls, accusing the government of having manipulated the process of candidate selection.
In Addis Ababa and Oromia protests broke out on October 1, on the occasion of the Irreecha festivities, when thousands of people took to the streets to demand the release of opposition leaders.
In the demonstrations, slogans were chanted against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and in support of Jawar Mohammed, a political opponent arrested following the unrest that erupted in the aftermath of the murder of popular Oromo singer Hachalu Hundessa on June 29, 2020. Numerous protesters also ranted about Jaal Maroo, former commander of the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) forces, calling for his release.
The October 1 protest was intentionally organized by Oromia’s opposition forces as part of the large annual celebrations of Irreecha, the holiday that marks the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the seeding season, when thousands of people take to the streets to celebrate.
Deep contradictions and divisions characterize in this phase the protest of the Oromo society, that, although representing the majority of the Ethiopian population, have always complained of their marginalization within the political system, seeing many of their prerogatives sacrificed.
The president of the National Front for the Liberation of Oromia, Abdirahman Mahdi, while expressing criticism of the work of the government in Addis Ababa, calls for the success of the national dialogue, interpreting its role of political opposition within the constitutional context. The objective of the ONLF, like most of the regional ethno-nationalist parties, is to obtain a political victory against Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party, thus modifying the centralist orientation of the government in the direction of the traditional structure built on the ethnic balance of regional states.
Most of the opposition parties, therefore, refuse to leave the furrow of political dialogue, while openly expressing their criticism of Premier Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party. On the contrary, most of the regional militias once close to the respective political forces, such as the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), have chosen the path of armed confrontation and support for the independence policies now led mainly by the TPLF in Tigrai.
In addition, on September 30 in Addis Ababa, the Tigrayan opposition member Abraha Desta, former member of the transitional government established by the Ethiopian government after the fall of the TPLF last November, was arrested.
Desta, former member of the Tigrinya Arena party, was previously arrested for three years by the TPLF authorities for his strong opposition to the role of the country’s governing party, and for this reason was chosen by the Addis Ababa authorities for the transitional government in the aftermath of the fall of Mekelle and the TPLF government last November.
After having held the position of head of the Tigray Social Affairs office, Desta left Mekelle together with the ENDF forces last June, when the Ethiopian military units were overwhelmed by the regional forces of the TDF. Since then, he had been living in Addis Ababa, where however he had begun to take increasingly critical positions on the government of Abiy Ahmed, accusing it of ordering the arbitrary arrest and discrimination against ethnic Tigrayans.
The arrest was formally prompted by charges of inciting revolt by the people of Tigray and for illegal possession of a firearm.