COVID-19 and The Ethiopian Election

On April 1st, 2020, Ethiopia’s autonomous election monitoring body, The National Election Board of Ethiopia, decided to postpone the upcoming August 29th election amid concerns of the growing COVID-19 global pandemic. 

The move is aimed to curb the rise of cases in the country which stands at 272 cases as of May 15th, 2020, only 63 days after the first reported case.  The rate is expanding at a rate of 4 cases per day, a frightening prognosis for the future of the virus in the country. 

The National Election Board of Ethiopia’s move is one of several efforts by many institutions to act on Ethiopia’s advantage of being exposed to the ailment late.  The decree of the Election Board has come under fire by opposition parties in Ethiopia calling them an attempt to bypass the electoral process. 

Those who agree with that sentiment are unable to understand the gravity of COVID-19. The global pandemic has crippled economic superpowers in the west and their medical infrastructures have been shattered at the peak of the virus. Ethiopia would have no chance surviving the worst case scenario of Coronavirus. 

The recent political shift in Ethiopia under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has allowed for an environment where the power and rights of the electoral process will be preserved, but not at the price of human lives. For Ethiopians to exercise their right to vote, they must live long enough to.

Much like school closures and restrictions on large gatherings, the postponement of the election is the best way to save lives. 

In these hard times, those of us with the experience of witnessing a transitional government and understand the reasonable fears of the public regarding new governments can advice our successors in these matters and hopefully we can all transition to more peaceful times together.  Ambassador Kadafo Mohamed Hanfare 

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