Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday said the country might have to face problems if the general election is delayed beyond the scheduled date of May next year, reported Reuters.
“Democracy needs exercise,” Ahmed told parliament. “If we say we cannot hold elections now, it will bring a lot of problems. We should work wholeheartedly by building public trust.”
The prime minister recalled past political violence that had hit the country after the 2005 general elections.
“The people of Ethiopia have taken lessons from the conflict that happened following the 2005 general elections,” Abiy said. “Ethiopians do not want conflicts arising in connection with elections.”
The Ethiopian electoral board has the financing and capacity to conduct the polls in the country of 105 million. The 2020 vote would be the first under Abiy, who took office in April 2018.
After taking office last year, Abiy has introduced many political and economic reforms in the country. The 43-year-old was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the year for sweeping political reforms and for making peace with long-time rival Eritrea.
Notably, Ethiopia has held regular elections since 1995, but no election has been competitive except for the 2005 election. In the 2005 poll, the opposition cried foul following which riots erupted in the country and security forces killed nearly 200 protesters and jailed many opposition politicians.
When MPs questioned Ahmed about the future of the fractious ruling coalition, he said he intends to merge the coalition into a single party.
Asked about a dispute with Egypt over the giant hydropower dam being built on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile, Abiy said Ethiopia will build the dam in any condition.
“No force will stop Ethiopia from building the dam,” the Ethiopian prime minister said.
He said Ethiopia can even resort to war but war is not in the best interest of any country.