The Sidama National Liberation Front Vehemently Rejects Ethiopian Government’s Decision to Remain in Power Beyond Its Constitutional Mandate.
Press Statement by the Sidama National Liberation Front (SNLF)
June 15, 2020
The much anticipated new dawn of democracy following the change of the dictatorial EPRDF led government in early 2018 due to the resistances spearheaded primarily by the Oromo youth, Qeerroo and other oppressed nations, remains elusive after two years of mismanaged and failed transitional process. The 2015-2018 Oromo revolution appears to have been fully hijacked and reversed by unitarist forces disguised as multinational federalists.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in April 2018 with the promise of political and economic reforms to widen political space, respect human and democratic rights of citizens and promote good governance, uproot corruption and foster socioeconomic development.
Tragically, his promises were short lived when his government embarked on barbaric suppression of fundamental human rights and particularly the right to self rule guaranteed in the constitution. In particular, his undemocratic style of authoritarian leadership and systematic measures to undermine the multinational federalism with objective of resuscitating unitarism are wreaking havoc in the country. Moreover, his relentless campaign against the prominent opposition political parties including the Oromo Liberation Front whose leaders and members are incarcerated in mass in various parts of the region highlight the heightening political tension, narrowing political space and an imminent risk of inevitable conflict.
Furthermore, since the EPRDF has been re-branded by the incumbent regime on December 01, 2019 as ‘Exclusive Prosperity Party’ or ‘Prosperity Party’ (EPP/PP) he has accelerated measures to centralize political power, dismantle the constitution and multinational federation against the wishes of over 80% oppressed nations and peoples who never negotiate on their right to self rule in their regions and equitable and shared rule in federal government.
In the middle of such crises, using the health risk caused by the global COVID 19 pandemic, the prime minister and his staunch unionist advisers have not only postponed the election but also used state institutions such as the judiciary and House of Federation to facilitate an unconstitutional extension of the power of the executive, and the federal and regional legislative beyond the September 30 2013 EC constitutional deadline.
The constitution is unambiguous in relation to the terms of the elected representatives for both the upper and lower chambers. As per the constitution of the country, members of the lower chamber are directly elected to only five-year term although the members of the upper chamber who also serve a five-year term, can be either selected by state councils or directly elected if state councils exercise the option to hold an election. The current decision of PM Abiy Ahmed’s government contradicts Article 1, 54 (1), 58 (3), 61 (3), 67 (2), 72 (2), 72 (3) and more that unambiguously prohibits the extension of five year terms.
The PM’s attempt to validate his government’s illegal stay in power using erroneous interpretation of the constitution can lead the country and its 110 million peoples to uncertain end. Additionally, we strongly believe that, the stubborn and single handed authoritarian action of the PM and his EPP/PP party that came to power as result of popular resistance against his own rebranded dictatorial party the (EPRDF) can destabilize the country and the entire region.
Therefore, the Sidama National Liberation Front (SNLF) reiterates strongly that, the action of the current government is unconstitutional. Post September 2013 EC, EPP/PP in Ethiopia will be the unelected illegal entity that will cause dangerous power vacuum.
Finally, if Covid-19 pandemic becomes beyond the national control thereby hampering the election, all inclusive political consensus must be reached on how to manage the election and govern the country if election is postponed.
The SNLF once again urges the government to unconditionally stop its attempt of validating illegal and unconstitutional extension of term limits. We urge the government to create an all inclusive platform for political dialogue to avert the looming and deeper crisis.
We also urge the government to honour the constitution in the case of the delay in transfer of power to the Sidama nation by the Southern Region.
Justice for all nations and peoples in Ethiopia!
Issued by the SNLF, June 15, 2020