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Opposition parties to go on hunger strike

Seventy Ethiopian political parties from the oppositions camp, which formed an alliance two months ago to counter the new Ethiopian Electoral and Political Parties Proclamation, have indicated that they are planning to stage a two-day hunger strike in their fight against the recently endorsed proclamation which will govern the activities of political parties and election related issues in the country.

Members of the committee of the 70 parties briefed both local and international journalists about their planned hunger strike and other issues related to the current political situation in the country, in a press conference held at the head of the All Ethiopian Union Party (AEUP) on Wednesday, October 2, 2019.

It is to be recalled that the opposition parties’ demanded the cancelation of 20 articles and the revision of 13 articles, from the then draft Ethiopian Electoral and Political Parties Proclamation, which was endorsed by the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) back in August.

Though the opposition parties have expressed their concerns over the draft bill before its endorsement, the parties claimed that their questions and demands were not included in the proclamation.

Consequently, during their recent presser, the parties stated that if the parliament, which is going to hold a session in the coming Monday, fails to raise their concern and open a platform for another round of discussions, they are going to organize a hunger strike on the 17th and 18th of October 2019.

Regarding the applicability of their planned hunger strike, Mulugeta Abebe, Vice Chairman of AEUP told The Reporter, “If the parliament did not provided us the swift response regarding our demand and concern we will stage a hunger strike at a convenient place for all of us and invite the media to witness the event.”

Among the issues the political parties have demanded for further discussions and negotiations includes the change in the electoral system from the existing ‘First Past The Post (winner takes all)’ to Proportional Representation or mixed one, and the required number of signatures to form a national and regional political party.

According to the new proclamation, parties which aspire to establish a nationwide party are expected to provide a petition by 10,000 members and similarly, parties at a regional level are also expected to provide a petition of 4000 members to be recognized as a legally registered party.

Members of the committee stated that “though we have submitted our concern and demand to the designated government offices and called for another round of discussion over the proclamation before it was endorsed, our effort was fruitless and that’s why we have now decided to stage a two days hunger strike.”

The parties also claimed that though there were some indications of improvement in widening the political space of the country, the ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has once again emerged as a repressive government manifested by rejecting the concerns and demands of the opposition parties.

According to the statement by the 70 parties, if their questions and demands do not receive the proper attention and response, they will continue on the struggle and a petition opposing the proclamation across the nation will follow the two-day hunger strike.