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Jawar Mohammed on Tigray Election and Other Election Related Thoughts

Jawar Mohammed on Tigray Election and Other Election Related Thoughts


Bekele Berhanu                     April 29, 2020


Today I listened to OMN and Awrambatimes how Jawar interprets or sees the possible election in Tigray. It is worth considering his points, making sure and asking, at the same time what would be the consequences if Abiy refuses to abide by the rules of the game – an outcome that one could guess with certainty.


I learned from Jawar’s statement that the Ethiopian Constitution gives the mandate to conduct elections to the National Electoral Commission, while at the same time giving the decision to conduct elections to the Regional Governments (Killils).


One may pose a simple but logical question: How about if the Federal Election Board decides to conduct the election but the regional government which has been accorded the power to decide when the election takes place refuses to hold the election?


If this is the case then the constitution has to be corrected so that it addresses this fundamental mistake.Granted, the fact that Ethiopia has no strong national institution let alone regional ones may make this impractical. 


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Judging from this angle of reference Jawar’s observation is right.


The fundamentals


Then which way forward?  Here, Jawar, besides laying for us the technical difficulties that we are facing right now, has not addressed the fundamental question of what Ethiopia’s fate will be after Meskerem 30, 2012.  Assuming (with certainty) that the current federal government will expire at the end of this term,  what choices will Ethiopia and Ethiopians have? As Jawar knows after the expiry date Ethiopia will be without a government.  That implies also there will not be any regional governments.


Nonetheless, it must be stated in very clear terms that the federal institution- in this case- the Ethiopian election Board should be obliged to facilitate elections until such time that regions are ready to conduct elections by themselves.


In many countries with proven federal arrangements each region or province has its own Regional/ Provincial Election Boards, and if Ethiopia plans to maintain its federal arrangement it then has to follow suit. Jawar somewhere in the interview mentioned that Federal Electoral Board has usually the power to conduct elections in other countries.  I would like him to review his information sources.  In Canada, for example regional/ provincial governments are empowered to hold their provincial elections. The norm is federal and regional elections are conducted at different times.


It is every leader’s responsibility to be measured and rational in making political decisions. Technical mishaps should not be given the same weight as major constitutional rights that the law of the land accords to the regions.  The fact that, to borrow Getachew Reda’s term, one federal bureaucracy is unable to conduct elections is not good enoughreason to make elections null and void, and rule a region using a law of the jungle.  The constitution gives the power to regions to determine their own internal fate. 


To my knowledge TPLF and other parties are not keen on conducting a national election or electorates that represent them in the Ethiopian parliament.  That is completely a different question. Not at all.  Tigray goes to election to elect a party or coalition of parties that administer the TigrayRegional state.


Now, one would not argue that any people should be governed by a party whose mandate has expired.


A Knowledge Gap?

I always wonder how much we know about Federal and Regional State party structures.

A more involved and informative discussion is needed here, and I hope some with more time and knowledge will do so.  For now, it is suffice to state that a Regional party and a National party are completely two different bodies.  One is national and the other is regional. 

What does this mean?  It means, for example, TPLF cannot be a regional and a national party at the same time.Same is true with the newly established Prosperity Party of Abiy Ahmed.  It is a national party with one program (I hope) running for national election not a regional one.  But the fact that its representative for Tigray claims that it is the ‘legitimate’ government of Tigray tells us how uninformed they are, and therefore not ready to be a national party.


In relation to Tigray, parties that want to play a national role should find like-minded groups  in Ethiopia proper and form a national party.  This is a topic we need to ponder in greater details sometime in the near future.


As it stands now, Tigray and all other regions have the absolute power to make regional elections.  By law they should not be allowed to govern their respective regions by force.  It is high time that other local regional parties be given the chance to promote their vision to their respective electorates and be elected to the local parliament.



In Conclusion:


Jawar, unless he has information to the contrary otherwise, knows that Abiy’s government is interested in keeping his power by all means.

What should be the next step under such circumstances?  Aren’t the different regional governments going to be defacto states? 


I expect Jawar to shade light on these points instead of addressing the issue in generalities.There should be a rule upon which games are played. The current rule is the constitution.  Disregarding this is tantamount to succumbing to the rule of the jungle.


Jawar knows, legally speaking, that this government is illegal in the way it usurped power.  It has overridden the constitution all the way in its decision making.  It is my hope that Jawar and other political leaders ponder over these points and form their political solutions/ opinions.  Granted, all political parties in Ethiopia need to sit and negotiate over the fate of our country. That is the proper thing to do.


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