The Freedom to Withdraw from Political Party Membership under the Ethiopian Law: A Case Comment

  • Leake Mekonen Tesfay
Keywords: Cassation decision, freedom of political party membership, freedom to withdraw, limitations on human rights, right to association.


One of the fundamental rights that the FDRE Constitution acknowledges is the freedom of political party membership. To this effect, the Revised Political Parties Registration Proclamation, which regulates the details of political party membership, allows a political party member to withdraw from membership at any time. It does not provide for any formality. Despite this, the Cassation Bench of the Federal Supreme Court has decided in Unity for Justice and Democracy Party v. Blue Party (File No.112091, Miyazia 28, 2007 E.C.) that a political party member cannot withdraw and be a member of another political party without notifying the former political party in writing. This case comment examines the appropriateness of this decision from the perspective of the right to political party membership. To this end, the case comment analyses the constitutional and other legal provisions pertinent to the right to political party membership in Ethiopia. Relevant provisions of international human rights instruments are also explored. To share a lesson from comparative experience, experiences from Israel, Papua New Guinea, Kenya and Cambodia are consulted. This author argues that the law does not require a written withdrawal notice. This enables a political party member to terminate his/her membership not only with written withdrawal notice, but also through all other possible ways including by taking new membership in another political party.