COVID-19 and elections in Ethiopia: Exploring constitutional interpretation by the House of the Federation as an exit strategy

Over 60 countries have postponed their elections due to COVID-19. The postponement of elections has posed this question: what exit mechanisms do constitutional systems have to address a power vacuum caused by unforeseen circumstances like COVID-19? How can a legitimate government that adheres to the rule of law, a constitution more specifically, be ensured when elections cannot be held? While some countries held elections amid COVID-19, others postponed them. Ethiopia is one of those countries which have postponed their elections. The postponement of Ethiopia’s elections sparked a debate about how the power vacuum caused by the pandemic should be addressed. After deliberating on the matter, Ethiopia’s lower house approved constitutional interpretation by the upper house as the best solution. The upper house, through interpreting the Constitution, extended the term limits of the government. This article intends to address the question posed above by examining the case of Ethiopia.