Aug 16 , 2020

Tigray's Election Commission has announced that it will start registering voters starting from the end of this week for four consecutive days. The regional election is also set to take place on September 9, 2020.

The Regional Election Commission already registered political parties three weeks ago. Five parties and six independent candidates have registered for the election. The registered parties and independent candidates started election campaigns last week through Dimste Woyane, Tigray Mass Media AgencyandTigray Media House. Campaigning is expected to be finished on September 4, 2020.

Candidates are set to make their announcements between August 26 to August 30, while the final election results will be announced on September 13, according to the new schedule.

However, during the discussion the Commission held with political parties, opposition parties disagreed with the proposed timeframe over complaints that there was not sufficient time for campaigning. And the final date was set without having had a final discussion with the parties, according to Hayalu Godifay, head of Salsay Woyane Tigray, one of the opposition parties.

The Commission is willing to discuss with the media houses to allocate more media airtime for the parties if they feel the time is insufficient, according to Merressa Tsehaye, a member of the Commission, which disclosed that it will transfer budgets to political parties starting August 15, 2020.

"The date was chosen after taking into consideration eventualities that may occur like complaints that may lead to court cases," he said. "We may even need to conduct reelections."

The budget allocated to the political parties for election preparation is made based on the number of seats they will be competing for, according to Meressa.

Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), National Congress of Great Tigray (Baytona), Tigray Independence Party and Salsay Woyane Tigray (SaWOT) will run for all seats. Assimba Democratic Party will be running for 13 seats in the house.

Last week, the Tigray Regional State Council approved a revised regional election law that opens space for the opposition parties to secure seats. The amended regional constitution and electoral law changed the first-past-the-post election system to a mixed system that couples the former voting system with proportional representation.

First-past-the-post electoral systems require a majority of votes in a district to win the seats and disregards all votes cast to a losing candidate. The proportional system, on the other hand, tries to account for all votes cast by offering seats based on overall votes given to a party.

The Council opted for parallel voting, which implies that the two systems will be used jointly to determine members of the State Council without one affecting the other. The election system is expected to be applied at the regional and local levels.

While there was nothing wrong with the majoritarian system that was in place previously, this electoral system gives weight to all votes cast while maintaining the principle of majority rule, according to Amanueal Assefa, head of the bureau of justice in the Regional State.

"It was well-researched and discussed at the federal and regional level," he said.

The mixed system will allocate 80pc of seats in the Council with the first-past-the-post system, while the remaining will be allocated through the proportional system.

“We believe this system will better strengthen political institutions,” said Amanueal.

The Council also pushed the number of seats to 190 from 152 with the newly added seats in the Council to be accorded based on the proportional electoral system.

The Regional State is moving forward with the election after the national election was pushed due to the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The International Crisis Group called for the region to hault the election and start negotiations with the federal government and to have the President of the African Union, Cyril Ramaphosa, as a negotiator.

Representative from the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) were not immediately available for comment.

PUBLISHED ON Aug 16,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1059]

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