Ethiopia's electoral board revokes TPLF's legal status as political party

Wednesday January 20 2021
Tigray protest.

Ethiopians from the Tigray region hold a protest in Pretoria, South Africa, on November 25, 2020. PHOTO | AFP

By The EastAfrican

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has revoked the legal status of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) as a political party, it announced.

The board said it conducted an evaluation process which confirmed that TPLF has engaged in armed rebellion and hence can no longer meet the board's criteria for a legal status.

The board said it confirmed the party's involvement in the violence, citing statements made by the party and publicly available facts to determine whether the TPLF was involved in the violence.

In addition, it tried to contact a former representative of TPLF's Addis Ababa office, who had been working as a liaison between the party and the board, to give him the opportunity to respond but the alleged representative said he could not represent the party.

The board did not specify which individual it approached.

The board says party officials will no longer be able to represent or act on behalf of the party.


It has requested the Attorney General to disclose the details of the investigation into the assets registered under the name of the TPLF.

The National Electoral Board has also ordered three other political parties operating in Tigray to provide explanation on allegations that they were involved in illegal elections and acts of violence.

Last year's national and regional elections were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the TPLF won a landslide victory in the regional elections, conducted in defiance to the federal government.

These elections, which were not recognised by the federal government and electoral board, served as a major dispute leading to civil war on Ethiopia's northern Tigray region.

After the election, relations with the federal government deteriorated further, and the TPLF was ousted from the region following a federal government military operation in late October. The operation was conducted following an attack on the northern federal government’s command in the Tigray region.

TPLF leaders are being held accountable by federal police and the Attorney General for inciting violence against federal forces in the region.

Several top TPLF military and political leaders and party executive committee members, including the deputy president of Tigray regional state, were captured or killed during the law enforcement operation ordered by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

However, the fate of TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremicheal and other top officials remain unknown as fighting reportedly continues in several parts of the Tigray region.