Ethiopia: Council of Ministers Endorses Draft Bill to Reintegrate Outlawed Political Parties Including TPLF

Addis Abeba — The Council of Ministers has endorsed a proposed proclamation that would establish a path for formerly outlawed organizations to re-register as legitimate political parties. Subject to approval by the House of Peoples’ Representatives, the amendment could pave the way for the re-registration of proscribed parties, such as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

According to the Prime Minister’s office, the current Electoral, Political Parties Registration, and Electoral Ethics Proclamation legislated in 2019 lacks provisions enabling groups that previously engaged in non-peaceful activities to gain legal party status, even if they commit to resolving disputes through peaceful means going forward.

The amendments would create a framework for such groups to participate in Ethiopia’s political processes by registering as political parties, provided they renounce violence and agree to operate peacefully. After deliberations, the Council of Ministers unanimously decided to forward the draft to the parliament for approval.

The proposed amendment follows a statement by Getachew Reda, who said in a media briefing held three months ago that “the issue will be forwarded to the Ministry of Justice to expedite the resolution of the legal discrepancies associated with the registration process of the TPLF.”

It was in January 2021 that the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) cancelled TPLF’s legal registration as a political party citing the party’s engagement in “armed violence against the government”; it also prevented TPLF officials from operating on behalf of the party. In the same decision the board had also requested the Federal Attorney General’s office to investigate TPLF’s movable and immovable assets and after the party’s debts were paid off, for its remaining assets to be utilized for civic and voter education programs.

The board had referenced Proclamation number 1162/2019 article 99/3 of the Ethiopian Electoral, Political Parties Registration and Election’s Code of Conduct Proclamation for its decision.

Despite the de-listing on 22 March last year of the TPLF from terrorist designation however, and TPLF’s request to reverse its decision, the electoral board upheld its decision to revoke the legal status of TPLF as a registered party.

Tigrayan officials long argued that the decision has left the federal government without a legally recognized counterpart to implement the CoHA.

Getachew hailed today’s decision as “one step [in] the right direction in consolidating peace.”