Ethiopia’s parliament on Wednesday allowed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to stay in office beyond his mandate for an extra year after elections scheduled for August were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, reported Reuters.
Around 114 voted in favor of the election delay, four against and one abstention. The announcement came two days after a leading opposition politician resigned as speaker of its upper house in protest at the delay.
While the lawmakers did not announce a date for the new elections, their vote was an endorsement of recommendations by the Council of Constitutional Inquiry, an advisory body that had held public meetings to decide a way forward after the delay.
The body recommended for the elections to be held nine to 12 months after the coronavirus is deemed not to be a public health concern.
In an interview with Reuters, house spokesman Gebru Gebreslassie said the upper house voted for a resolution that extends the terms of federal and regional lawmakers and the executive branch of the government for between nine and 12 months.
Gebru said that the elections in Ethiopia will go ahead within that period, once health authorities determine that the coronavirus is no longer a threat to public health. Ethiopia had recorded a total of 2,336 coronavirus and 32 deaths by Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Keria Ibrahim, who is a top official of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), quit as the speaker. The TPLF is against the decision taken in March to delay the elections due to the pandemic. It has threatened to hold its own elections in the Tigray region, home to one of Ethiopia’s most influential ethnic groups.
Some opposition leaders have called for the formation of a transitional government to guide the country to elections, but Abiy dismissed the proposal claiming that it was unworkable.