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Ethiopia’s Election Board facing credibility issue ahead of national election

Election Board Meeting with Political parties dismissed as parties raise neutrality question

Election Board _ Ethiopia
Photo credit : DW Amharic

November 29, 2019

Ethiopia’s Election Board is one of the organizations that saw reform after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed became Prime Minister. Ethiopian House of People’s Representative was involved in the reform process by way of legislating it and appointing Board Members and Chairman, Bertukan Mideksa.

The reform process was basically informed by the need to make the institution independent and credible as it has been perceived as a tool for EPRDF, Ethiopia’s ruling coalition that is merging to form a new party with a new party program – Prosperity Party, for well over two decades. 

As it turns out, and as Ethiopia’s next national election is approaching, the board is facing serious credibility issue on grounds of neutrality. 

On Friday, November 29, 2019, the board organized a meeting with opposition political parties to discuss a draft regulation prepared to guide implementation of the Ethiopian Election Board and political party’s legislation.  The draft details obligations of political parties and was meant to help implement political parties registration and elections legislation.

However, the meeting was dismissed before it even started, as reported by DW Amharic service.

What was the problem?

Political Party leaders who came to attend the meeting said that they have expressed concerns about the Election Board and Political party’s legislation itself and that the guideline which was meant to be discussed was prepared based on the legislation that they opposed.

The parties claim, as reported by DW Amharic, that articles they are not familiar with are included in the legislation while those ones which were agreed upon are ignored.

The Board proposed to discuss points of divergence at a later time and discuss other issues, seemingly pertinent with election matters although not spelled out. Political party leaders did not accept it and the meeting had to be dismissed prematurely.

DW Amharic cited one participant in the meeting, without revealing details of identity, as saying “Our trust on the board is eroded. It is working only to enable the wealthy and powerful ones to take part in the election.”

The Board reportedly advised those parties who have questions about the board to submit it to the board within three days.

Ethiopia’s Next general election has been a matter of controversy as some parties, like Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), have been speculating extension of the election time which they saw as unconstitutional.

Abiy Ahmed’s government announced in August 2019 that the national election will not be postponed

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