The Coronavirus Forces Ethiopia to Postpone Its Highly Anticipated Election

The Coronavirus Forces Ethiopia to Postpone Its Highly Anticipated Election
Volunteers provide soap and water for people to wash their hands in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 15, 2020 (AP photo by Mulugeta Ayene).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.

Governments across Africa are taking drastic steps to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus, from implementing strict curfews to releasing prisoners from overcrowded jails. This week, Ethiopia became the first African country to postpone an election over concerns that holding the vote would worsen the pandemic. Its highly anticipated general election is now delayed indefinitely.

The vote, which was scheduled for August, is seen as a critical referendum on the reformist agenda that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed introduced when he took power in 2018. Though popular among many Ethiopians, Abiy’s reforms have incited a violent backlash in some parts of the country. While opposition leaders agreed that delaying the election is necessary to help contain the coronavirus, there are worries it may allow divisions to fester.

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