Ethiopia to hold parliamentary elections on August 29

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed waits for the arrival of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen before their meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia December 7, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA – (ARCHIVE) : A file photo dated March 12, 2019 shows Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaking during a joint press conference held with French President Emmanuel Macron (not seen) following their meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. (Photo by Mohammed Abdu Abdulbaq/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Ethiopia’s election body on Friday set a date for free parliamentary elections.

The election will be a first test of voter support for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has eased political restrictions since he took office in 2018.

The August 29 election date is two weeks later than the electoral board had previously indicated. It did not immediately give a reason for the delay.

Ethiopia’s 109 million people are experiencing unprecedented political and economic change, but Abiy’s reforms have also unleashed ethnic rivalries that have spilled into violence.

Plans to hold the parliament and regional council elections in May were postponed as neither the authorities nor parties would be ready, electoral board head Birtukan Mideksa said in January.

Ethiopia has had regular parliamentary elections since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power in 1991 but, with one exception, none were competitive