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Non-Corona (Non-US Election) News

Ethiopia pushed to the brink of civil war and a “fundamentally flawed” election slated to take place in Myanmar in this week’s special edition of The Gazelle’s Non-Corona (and Non-U.S. Election) News.

Nov 8, 2020

Ethiopia launches airstrikes on Tigray region
On Nov. 6, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on state television that the Ethiopian Air Force had carried out airstrikes in the state capital, Mekelle, of the northern region Tigray. The airstrikes destroyed heavy artillery, although Prime Minister Ahmed made no mention of casualties pushing the country to the brink of civil war.
This marked the third day of the escalated conflict between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, and the opposition-ruled Tigray state.
On Nov. 4, communications were cut as PM Abiy announced that troops had been ordered into Tigray as a response to an alleged attack on a military base there, saying that “the last red line had been crossed.” Sporadic clashes erupted on Nov. 5, including near the Tigray-Amhara border, as Tigray alleged that fighter jets had bombed areas around its capital.
Tigray is the northernmost region of Ethiopia and shares a border with Eritrea, comprising the Tigrayan ethnic group who make up an estimated 6% of Ethiopia’s population. In 1991, following the military dictatorship of the 1970s and 1980s, a coalition called the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front came to power with Tigray People’s Liberation Front as the leader, backing a federalist approach to government.
The current Prime Minister came to power in 2018 and there were soon growing tensions between some in the TPLF and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, whose push for a more centralized government has been resisted by Tigray, who held a disproportionate share of the Ethiopia’s military and government coalition before 2018.
As tensions simmered, Tigray decided to hold parliamentary elections in defiance to the Prime Minister in September.
A six-month state of emergency was declared in Tigray by PM Abiy’s cabinet following his announcement on Nov. 4.
Myanmar’s Election on November 8
Myanmar is set to hold national and state elections on Nov. 8, with 37 million people eligible to vote and more than 90 parties with candidates for seats in the upper and lower houses of parliament.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, who won a landslide victory in 2015 (after five decades of indirect and direct military rule), is slated to hold onto power with a reduced majority in a Parliament where 25% of the seats are reserved for the military.
The NLD has lost the support of many minority ethnic parties, around 60 of which are now against them. Ethnic minority groups were disappointed not just by a failed promise of greater autonomy but by the military threat of the Arakan Army in the western state of Rakhine, where more than 740,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim ethnic minority (denied full citizenship rights under a discriminatory 1982 citizenship law) were driven out amidst atrocities such as gang rape, mass killings and torture recounted by survivors in 2016 and 2017. The United Nations has said this crackdown has the “hallmarks of genocide.”
In addition, on Oct. 16 and Oct. 27, Myanmar’s Union Election Commission cited security concerns to announce whole or partial cancellations of voting in several constituencies where ethnic minority groups reside, effectively disenfranchising over 1.5 million people. Thus, the election has been described as “fundamentally flawed.”
Angad Johar is Senior News Editor. Email him at
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