Ethiopia will hold a parliamentary election on June 5, 2021, its National Electoral Board has said on Friday, after postponing the vote from August this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The chairman of the winning party becomes prime minister.
News of the vote comes as Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation, wrestles with outbreaks of deadly violence.
On Thursday, the military killed 42 armed men accused of taking part in a massacre in the western Benishangul-Gumuz region.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he was sending forces to Benishangul-Gumuz, which borders Sudan, the day after unidentified attackers torched homes and killed more than 100 people in a village there.
The region is home to several ethnic groups.
In recent years, people from the neighbouring Amhara region have started moving into the area, prompting some ethnic Gumuz to complain that fertile land is being taken away from them, experts say.
Ethiopia has a federal system comprising 10 regions with the freedom to set some taxes, run security forces and pass laws.
Ahmed took office in 2018 and accelerated democratic and economic reforms that have loosened the state’s iron grip on regional rivalries.
But he is now under pressure to contain the violence gripping his nation.
State-run Ethiopian News Agency reported that five senior officials, including a state minister of the federal government, have been arrested in connection with security issues in Benishangul-Gumuz.
The development came as Ethiopia’s military also battles a rebellious force in the separate northern Tigray region, with a mass deployment of troops that has raised fears of a security vacuum in other areas.
The war, believed to have killed thousands, has sent more than 45,000 refugees into Sudan, displaced many more within Tigray, and worsened suffering in a region where 600,000 people were already dependent on food aid even before the conflict began.
Ethiopia is also experiencing unrest in the Oromia region and faces long-running security threats from Somali fighters along its porous eastern border.