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Ethiopia is holding the second round of its belated elections this week. However, the embattled Tigray region remains excluded from the polls which has already handed a majority to the ruling Prosperity Party.

On October 5 2020, the mandate of the current Ethiopian Parliament expired. Planned elections had been postponed — officially because of the COVID-19 pandemic — sparking swift criticism from opposition parties.

That same day, the leaders of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) — the dominant party in the country’s northern Tigray region — declared they would no longer recognize the authority of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed or the federal government, a pivotal point in the ongoing Tigray crisis.

One year on, much has changed in Ethiopia. Abiy’s Prosperity Party is set to form a new government after claiming the necessary majority in the belated June elections. But the war-torn Tigray region and the TPLF did not take part in the polls, effectively excluding at least 6 million Ethiopian citizens from the vote — over 5 million of whom are now in urgent need of aid .

The past year has also seen an increase in local conflicts across the country, including sporadic attacks in the vast Oromia region which the government has blamed on TPLF allies, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). Meanwhile, unresolved border issues in the Somali region have only added to climate of resentment, fear and economic instability.