Tigrayans are exercising their right to vote in defiance of the federal government which postponed the national elections scheduled to take place last month (August). Tigrayans are exercising the most important political rights guaranteed by the constitution at a time when the rights of citizens in other regions have been indefinitely deferred by the ruling regime through a dubious constitutional machination.
The Property Party postponed the elections mainly because the leadership knew that the party faced an electoral wipe out if it were to go into an election months after its establishment. A weird and uncanny construct created to serve an individual’s desire for unlimited power, the Prosperity Party needed time to prepare for this election. As a party with no social basis and does not reflect the existing social cleavages or political fault lines in Ethiopia, PP needed to first purge its formidable opponents (especially in Oromia), establish patronage structures across the entire country, and institute divide and rule strategies (within ethnic groups and across groups) before it could muster the courage of going into an election of any sort – even if undemocratic.
Whatever the federal government and the House of Federation say about this election, the defiance by a regional state of a federal government in this country is unprecedented and cannot be written off as an ephemeral non-event. It would set an important precedent for Ethiopia’s federation going forward
The statements and declarations by the federal government would have no constitutional or legal effect as far as regional and local elections are concerned. It is possible that the PP cabal might say that the Tigray regional government elected in this election not recognised by the federal government is illegitimate and move to withhold federal subsidies if it (PP) remains in power (whenever that deferred election is held), but that too would be too costly for any federal government and ultimately the Ethiopian state. If this election is seen as legitimate and credible by the Tigrayan people, any future action by the federal government would be seen as an attack on the people of Tigray and their democratic decision, and could threaten the break up of the Ethiopian state.