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Travel Advisory: Ethiopia General Election - 21 June 2021

Updated: Jun 17, 2021

General elections are due to be held in Ethiopia on 21 June 2021. Elections are going ahead in most areas across the country. In Tigray, elections have been postponed until 06 September and the operation to oust the Tigray Popular Liberation Front (TPLF) continues. The consequences of this operation include the deaths of thousands and extreme food shortages indicative of imminent famine.

Elections will also not be held in a further 54 constituencies across the country (78 out of 547 constituencies will not vote) for various reasons. There are increased tensions in the border regions, currently an insurgency in Oromia, ethnic attacks in Amhara and fighting over land and resources in the western Benishangul-Gumuz region that has led to the deaths of hundreds in the last year. Internationally, Ethiopia's relationship with downstream countries (Sudan and Egypt) remains under strain due to the impacts associated with filling of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), their access to fresh water and irrigation for agriculture along the Nile.

The election commission reports that over 40 (mostly regional) parties have registered candidates. This is thought to be the highest number of candidates in any election previously held in Ethiopia. Concerns about integrity of the poll are already being raised. Opposition parties are claiming that government crackdowns are having an impact on their ability to mount effective campaigns. At least one province has already declared its intent to boycott the elections due to the arrest of its leaders and government closing its offices.

The impact on country political and security risk during the extended election period is uncertain; final results will not be reported for 23 days. There is a risk of sudden deterioration and civil unrest potentially leading to violence. Consider suspension of all non essential travel to Ethiopia until the situation stabilises and for those in country:

  • Cease non essential travel from Addis Ababa to the field / provinces. Consider the withdrawal of non essential staff from field positions to Addis Ababa.

  • Implement journey management procedures (if you have not already done so). Ensure vehicle safety equipment is in place and grab bags are carried (or close at hand).

  • Implement daily safety check calls.

  • Review site security procedures. Discretely canvas local community leadership for early indicators of trouble.

  • Review residential security and associated procedures including Quick Reaction Force (QRF) mobilisation if used.

  • Review relevant emergency response and contingency plans.

  • Review the Country Evacuation State.

  • Deploy radio and satellite communications in case of the loss of fixed landline and mobile phone networks.

  • Avoid crowds and areas likely to become assembly points or targets of protests and crowd violence. Avoid social venues such as restaurants popular with expatriates and that might present attractive terrorist targets.

  • Monitor local and international media, take heed of host and national government advice.

  • Continue to take protective measures against Covid-19.

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