We would like to express our dismay with the decision of the House of Federation to extend the term of office of the government. It is an illegal and illegitimate act that not only violates the constitution but also endangers the peace and stability of the country. It is to be recalled that from the outset we have been expressing our view that the constitution does not allow the extension of the government’s term of office and had proposed and submitted an alternative solution.

Despite our objection and submission of alternative solutions, the ruling party stubbornly continued with a unilateral action, by making the House of People's Representative refer the matter to the Council of Constitutional Inquiry (CCI). The Council undertook a disingenuous process whereby experts advocating the ruling party’s position were invited while amicus brief submissions by those holding a different opinion were excluded from the hearing. Moreover, principles of avoiding conflict of interest were violated. Hence, it is not surprising at all that the final decision reflected the ruling party's initial position.

One of the basic features of representative democracy is that elections take place at regular intervals and elected officials remain in office only for a specific period of time, and step down after completing their term of office. It is remembered that Ethiopia's General election was originally scheduled for 29 August 2020 by the Ethiopian National Electoral Board of Ethiopia. Later the Board declared that it would not be able to conduct elections due to prohibitions of movement and gathering by the government to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. We expressed our concern at the time that suspending General elections in the absence of any provisions in the constitution that would allow for the postponement of an election would lead to a constitutional crisis, and that any activity after September 2020 without a newly elected HoPR will violate the five-year term clearly set by the constitution. Articles 54(1) and 58(3) of the constitution and article 7 of the Electoral law which stipulates elections to be held every five years do not show flexibility with regard to election period.

The current constitution of Ethiopia was ratified in 1995 which introduced a multiparty democracy system to Ethiopia allowing for the realization of regular elections in the country. Guided by the principle of ensuring the people’s rights to political participation in matters of governance, the constitution defines political pluralism as the guiding principle of Ethiopian democracy. The rights and duties of political parties derived from the constitution are also included in the political party law of the country.

Operating within the parameters of the aforementioned laws and principles the multiparty landscape in the country today includes registered, credible and active political parties. Therefore, we strongly oppose the unilateral decision to extend the mandate of regional and federal legislators by a single party. The decision by the House of Federation will exacerbate the discontent of the public, which has already overflown due to broken promises by the current government. We would like to express our concern that large-scale mass uprisings which could transform into violence may arise, and this will not only take us back to square one, it will also be difficult to contain for a government already dealing with multiple socio economic and public health challenges.

It is regrettable that our proposal and other proposals presented by many opposition parties and citizens that called for inclusive dialogue for political settlement to prevent a constitutional crisis after September 2020, are totally disregarded by the ruling party. We believe that the ruling Party’s unilateral decision of extending the term of office of its own government is a sheer violation of the constitution and an abuse of power which is antithetical to the ethos of a democratic and multiparty governance system enshrined in the constitution, and erodes the democratic principle that limited term of office. On this basis, we strongly reject the unilateral decision taken by the ruling party to unilaterally and unconstitutionally extend its term. Once again we call on the ruling party to sit down with the opposition parties to thoughtfully discuss the issue in order to find a solution and reach a political settlement.

Oromo Liberation Front
Oromo Federalist Congress
June 10, 2020 Finfine

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