Ethiopia will hold legislative and regional elections on June 5 next year, the electoral commission said Friday after polls scheduled for 2020 were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The cancelled elections were a factor that stoked tensions between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the dissident northern Tigray region, which ultimately saw him dispatch federal troops there in a November military offensive that left thousands dead and created tens of thousands of refugees.

The elections in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country with some 110 million people, are largely seen as an important political transition process announced by Abiy, last year’s Nobel Peace prize winner.

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Abiy, who came to power in 2018, had promised free, fair and democratic elections in 2020.

The elections were scheduled for August 29 but the election commission deferred them indefinitely after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The tenure of both the parliament and Abiy — which was due to expire in October — was then extended.


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