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Yohannes By Gebresellasie (Ph.d) Addis Ababa

May 26, 2015

The Ethiopia 2015 National Election explicitly and unequivocally demonstrated a successful transition to a democratic electoral system through ballot vote whereby people can choose their leaders in a peaceful, competitive and free contest. They also showed their political maturity by effectively and practically implementing their citizenship rights and responsibilities. The Ethiopian people once again demonstrated to the whole world that there is no turning back but to move forward following the right track. Further, they made it clear that they want to keep precious things such as peace, stability and sustainable development undamaged.

During the 2015 National Election, the Ethiopian people from coast to coast demonstrated to the whole world that, the hard fought peace, security and stability are pre-requisites for free, fair and democratic election with no hidden agendas, no disturbance, no chaos; instead, by conducting peaceful, free, fair and exemplary democratic fifth national election. They showed that they have equal voice and opportunity to choose their leaders not infected or influenced by capital, wealth, and status and by engaging themselves (with over 80% and high number of youth participation) in a peaceful, free, transparent democratic manner.

During this democratic election, the Electoral Board remained impartial and non-partisan and has been regarded as such by the public at large. The Electoral Board created a conducive and enabling environment for participation and for an educated citizenry. Also in order to establish the credibility of the electoral process, all parties worked very hard to make the electoral process peaceful, democratic and successful.

Generally, elections are the cornerstone for creating a democratic political system. In the past decade, it has become a common phenomenon in the developing world to raise concerns on whether multi-party elections can possibly be held in a free and fair atmosphere or whether any ruling party can genuinely foment an enabling environment for peaceful, orderly and transparent elections. However, within the context of Ethiopia, the recently concluded fifth National Election has been declared free and fair by independent international observation missions such as the delegation from the African Union and other various independent observers such as the Coalition of the Ethiopian Civic society.

The media, this time around refrained from being biased and used accuracy, fairness, balance and impartiality expected from professional journalists. As a result, most media outlets vis--vis the Ethiopian election process have by and large been a blend of informed opinion and presented substantive and concrete evidences to corroborate the veracity of their account.

The government of Ethiopia created an unprecedented conducive environment for a free and fair election further enhancing the process of democratization and in order to strengthen and optimize the ongoing economic and political reforms in Ethiopia and ensure continuity of the prevailing enabling environment for development.

The main stakeholders: The Ethiopia people honored the Rule of Law that decrees that Law shall govern us according to the will of the People, the Rule of Law is worthy of our highest aspirations and dedicated efforts as a united people, the rule of law that brings hope for peace, hope for justice, and hope for a day when right will always conquer might; hope for a day when truth will always overcome deceit and hope for a day when love will truly be the highest law of our land.

Contesting political parties by and large have thoroughly prepared themselves for the challenge from their political opponents; as a result, all candidates were obliged to respect the rule of the game which is a fundamental standard and symbol of a civilized society. They took time to do their homework in that regard and chose their best candidates in order to represent their parties to serve the public at large with dignity, honor and humility. They understood the laws of the land and were able to respect and be governed by the constitution of the land. Further, they represented their respective parties in a political debate for their respective parties. Further, most of the contesting parties have shown unprecedented wisdom and maturity in their participation and in pursuing of their programs for which they should be commended. However, few of them were observed still pursuing hate politics, squabbling among themselves and acting as fault-finders without presenting any sound policy alternatives. Thus, they should be encouraged to come out of their quagmire and develop themselves in future elections.

Monitoring also played an important role in conducting a peaceful and democratic election by instilling domestic and international legitimacy. Monitoring also helped to avoid any violence that may happen during the electoral process by giving necessary technical assistance and technical expertise for training local monitors that can strengthen domestic electoral institutions that eventually helped maintain peace, tolerance and stability.

The presence of election monitors also served to prevent shenanigans and give parties greater confidence that the vote was free and fair. The key to achieving this outcome was the presence of monitors who are seen by all sides as neutral. When we talk about monitors, we tend to focus solely on international monitors and more often than not forget the role of indigenous knowledge and capacities of conflict resolution mechanisms. Here, the role of the elderly vis--vis ways and means of resolving disputes and conflicts is instrumental; therefore, it must be given priority even over the so called international monitors. Since indigenous elders possess a proven track record of being non-partisan and since they are neutral and respected by any party as well as the society at large, their role within the electoral process can be of a significant importance and thus, their involvement is not only important but indeed at times indispensable; therefore, they must get the due attention.

At this critical time, political parties on both sides of the political divide are required to exercise considerable restraint, tolerance and willingness to compromise. The parties are legally and morally bound to refrain from any action or activity that may adversely influence the situation on the ground. Therefore, they should cease activities that could further antagonize public sentiments or fuel the flames of discord

Generally, the Ethiopian people showed that they are fed up with conflicts and wars and languages of violence. Instead, they are busy focusing on poverty reduction and venture of development and they have an uphill battle to conquer that. They are thus keeping their eyes on the price and the price is peace; because, without peace, nothing can be achieved; therefore, it is important that governmental and non-governmental organizations alike build confidence on the democratic process flourishing in Ethiopia and continue their cooperation and collaboration in order to further reinforce peace, stability and good governance in the country.

A civilized society is obedient to law and order. Candidates in a civilized society accept graciously the decisions of the electoral Board or the supreme court of the land when winning or losing during elections. A civilized society does not want to hamper stability and development. A civilized society always strives for peace and maintains tolerance. Further, a civilized society does not rush to violence and destruction. It opts for construction and development endeavors instead.

In spite of the concerted negative media campaign against the national election by certain international media ill-wishers with hidden agendas, the Ethiopian people have managed to successfully conduct and conclude the 2005 National Election in a completely peaceful atmosphere. There might have been some minor problems here and there, but for the most part, the election was absolutely democratic free and fair. Therefore, the Ethiopian people, the Government in place, the Contesting Parties and the Electoral Board deserve to be congratulated for a job well done



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