NAIROBI (Reuters) – Ethiopia’s ruling coalition said on Friday it will hold a national election next year, defying worries over security and displacement in the Horn of Africa country that had led some to speculate the election might be postponed.
The executive committee did not give a date for the poll. “The executive committee have decided the election to be conducted next year,” committee member Getachew Reda said.
An attempted coup in June by a rogue militia in the northern Amhara region had raised doubts over the ruling party’s ability to ensure security, while an increase in ethnic violence across the country made some query whether the election would be held.
But opposition parties are keen to avoid any delays despite outbreaks of ethnic violence that have contributed to the displacement of 2.4 million Ethiopians.
Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous nation.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has rolled out a series of political reforms since coming to power last year, including unbanning many political parties, releasing political prisoners and journalists and welcoming home exiled rebel groups.
But tensions within the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), which has ruled with an iron grip since 1991, have risen following the failed coup.
In a rare public feud this month, two of its four ethnic parties traded barbs over who was responsible for the violence.
After decades of harsh rule, Abiy’s reforms have created new freedoms but old grievances and disputes have resurfaced, while local power-brokers seeking to build support by securing power and territory for their ethnic groups have been emboldened.
Waves of unrest in different parts of the country have forced further postponement of a long-delayed national census.
(Reporting by Hereward Holland; Editing by Catherine Evans)