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Ethiopia to shift to mixed electoral rule

Ethiopia to shift to mixed electoral rule

House seats to increase by 110

The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and 15 opposition political parties agreed on Friday to institute a mixed electoral system in Ethiopia.

Conducting negotiations for the past two months over the Amended Electoral Law of Ethiopia, especially Proclamation No. 532/2007, the sides have been haggling over different articles of the proclamation with a view to widening the political space.

At the beginning of this round of negotiations, EPRDF proposed 90 percent to be taken by majority vote (First-Past-the-post) while the remaining 10 percent to be administered by the proportional electoral rule. Meanwhile, opposition parties proposed a different arrangement—with the 11 parties that forged unity for this purpose proposing a 50-50 arrangement.

During the first session, both the ruling and opposition political parties presented their justifications about their propositions and conducted a heated debate but failed to reach an agreement and made an appointment for another round of negotiations.

Subsequently, the parties got together and again proposed their modified numbers towards the composition of the mixed electoral system. This time around, the ruling party amended its proposal to 85-15 while the 11 parties proposed 60- 40, each side supporting its positions with arguments. However, the negotiators again failed to reach an agreement and made another appointment.

On Wednesday, EPRDF again amended it proposal to 80-20 and the 11 parties argued in favor of 60-40, with each side asserting its position to be final.

At this stage, the 11 parties asked the mediators that they be given some time so as to discuss the matter with their respective party members. Obtaining the green light from the mediators, the 11 opposition parties yesterday accepted the ratio of the mixed electoral system proposed by the ruling party.

Accordingly, the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) will have an additional 110 seats on top of the existing 547 seats. This change will require constitutional amendment, something that the ruling party feels strongly about. Accoridng to constitution, the number of HPR seats “shall not exceed 550” and with the addition of 110 new ones the resulting 657 seats would be way above constitutional limitation.        

After reaching an agreement to reform the country’s electoral system, the negotiation continued and the parties started dealing with other issues according to the pre-set agenda, viz. reform of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE).

So far, the ruling and opposition parties have negotiated and agreed to amend the existing Revised Political Parties’ Registration Proclamation No. 573/2008. Yesterday’s agreement is the second agreement with a view to improving the legal framework of the country’s electoral system.

The parties will continue their negotiations over NEBE reforms the coming Wednesday.