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Ethiopia's Chief of the Electoral Board Resigns Amid Row with TPLF

                                    

Addis Ababa – Chief of the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), Birtukan Midekssa, announced on her social media page that she has resigned from her post as Chairwoman of the NEBE effective August 7, 2023. 

"I need to have a long term rest in order to maintain my health", she wrote on her facebook page.  Birtukan wrote that two weeks ago she had informed the office of the Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) her decision to resign "voluntarily". 

In the coming month as she prepares for her departure, she said she will be responsible for completing unfinished tasks and making administrative transitions.

A former judge and a veteran opposition party leader, she was appointed as Chairperson of the Board when the national parliament approved her nomination by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in November 2018.

“I had a dream of transforming our institution into a reliable and independent institution capable of conducting elections,” said Birtukan. 

She wrote she was proud of her achievements especially conducting referendums and national elections, and managing political parties in accordance with the law.

As Chair of the National Electoral Board, Birtukan oversaw the 2021 national election in spite of COVID-19 pandemic. Through her leadership, three referendums led to the formation of new states in Southern Ethiopia. 

Recently, however, she was accused by members of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after she denied the political party from being reinstated after it was banned due to its engagement in armed conflict with the federal government.

Professor Kindeya Gebrehiwot, Central Committee member of the TPLF, said in his interview with The Reporter that the decision to reject TPLF's request to become a legal political party was wrong and politically motivated. 

"We do not have to speak with the electoral board. We are discussing with the government since this is a political move and can only be solved politically. As a part of the Pretoria Agreement, the HoPR has removed TPLF from the terrorist list. And we have no need to deal with the electoral board since it is beneath the HoPR. Our discussions with the government are bearing fruit", said Professor Kindeya.

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