NATIONAL ELECTION CODE OF CONDUCT
Yohannes Gebresellasie (Ph.d) Addis Ababa
Our nation has concluded few national elections and is planning to conduct another national election soon. Whereas few electoral descriptions have been manifested as is the case in most elections anywhere, by and large, the government and the public at large should be congratulated for few successful electoral achievements. The success of those last elections can be accounted upon the prevalence of peace and stability in the nation and the political maturity of the Ethiopian public. It is therefore important and indeed indispensable that even better wisdom and tolerance be manifested from all parties, the civic society, the media, the public at large from within and the Diaspora in order to make the next election even better organized and better implemented. Also international governmental as well as non-governmental institutions alike must continue their assistance in that regard in order to reinforce those civilized values and norms they have cherished over many years and in order to help maintain peace and stability in this country. Here, it is important to note that Ethiopian national election is conducted not to satisfy external observers or external governmental and non-governmental institutions but rather it is conducted because it is the duty and responsibility of Ethiopian citizens. Therefore, as there is no substitute to peace, Ethiopians from coast to coast to coast must manifest their usual cultural and traditional value of tolerance, maturity and brotherly and sisterly closeness as a people during the upcoming national election.
Finally, the following are few but vital code of practices that must be remembered during and after elections in order to insure peace and stability on the one hand and conduct a free, fair and democratic national election on the other.
Ø All competing parties must be willing and able to fulfill their pledges and abide by the procedures and principles drawn by the Electoral Board and they must respect and adhere to the Rule of Law of the land. Further, all parties must refrain from encouraging or instigating violent activities and must teach and inform their followers not to involve in any illegal, unlawful and distractive activities. Instead, they must encourage their followers to use peaceful and democratic ways and means of conducting the electoral campaign throughout the electoral process including after the results are out.
Ø The public at large (citizens) especially the youth must comprehend adapt and naturalize their state of mind with the fact that elections are peaceful political competitions between and among political parties and not between rivalries or enemies. Therefore, they must exert maximum tolerance and maturity in that regard and focus solely on exercising their citizenship and constitutional right by electing their representatives peacefully and democratically. They must not be confused or persuaded by few internal or external self-interested individuals or groups alike that care only about themselves or others that advance their hidden agendas. In other words, they must put their money on the right price.
Ø Local media outlets must be ready and willing to fulfill their professional journalistic responsibilities as informers with a very high level ethical standard that their profession dictates in order to pass real and unbiased message. They must not at any time or place compromise their professionalism or be an advocate or client or instrument of those who like to see division, chaos and disorder in this country. They must instead encourage citizens to peacefully and democratically fulfill their citizenship responsibilities. Finally, they must work to reinforce peace, stability and democratic good governance in this country. They must be a champion of peace, not of hate.
Ø Ethiopian Diasporas by and large reside in countries where elections are held almost entirely in a peaceful environment even under some electoral drawbacks and discrepancies here and there. Therefore, they must share their exposure and experience and must transcend those principles, standards, norms and values into their country of origin. They must preach peace, love and friendship and not division or hate among the same people. Further, they must not be guided or mislead by few self-interested individuals and/or groups with hidden destructive agendas. They must say enough is enough to those who make their daily lives by defaming our nation and working day and night against the national interest simply to fulfill their personal ambition. Further, they must once and for all tell “a slate is a slate” to those who preach hate and division between and among the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples of Ethiopia. Ethiopian Diasporas like to see progress, prosperity and development within their country of origin. They do not like to see a vicious circle of poverty and under-development. Therefore, there is no reason why they lend their time, energy and resource to few destructive forces that are against the progress and prosperity of this nation. Finally, African Nations have learned a lesson or two with regard to conducting free, fair and democratic elections. Ghana’s recent election was considered as one of Africa’s success with regard to democratic good governance and was praised by all international governmental as well as non-governmental institutions alike as an excellent demonstration of democratization process of the continent. Also Botswana’s National election had the same praise and admiration from all over the world and the people and competing parties within the country were praised for their tolerance and political maturity throughout the electoral proceedings. Both countries have done it and if they can do it, so can we.
Ø International Media outlets must not rush to judgment or to conclusion prior to conducting realistic and professional evaluation of the electoral procedures and proceedings. They must not rely solely on the opinion of few interest groups alone. They must rather base their judgments on data collected from both primary as well as secondary sources using professional logical, realistic and scientific data collecting, analyzing and synthesizing methodological framework. In simple words, they should not be biased.
Ø International observers have often made an irredeemably biased representation not worthy of recognition regarding electoral process. Hope they will correct their colossal failure and correct their journalistic research this time around. It is hoped that they will fulfill their homework with dignity, fairness and high standard of responsibility. They must understand the culture and history of the country they are assigned to and not ignore the views of their indigenous counterparts and Local as well as Federal authorities. Further, they must not pre-judge the outcome before the results are out. Instead, they have to use their international experience, exposure and expertise to reinforce peace, stability and democratic good governance in this country and not activate hostility and chaos.
Finally all parties must not look at each other as enemies but rather as friends and colleagues who want to bring about socio-economic and political progress, prosperity and sustainable development to this beautiful nation of ours. They should continue to use peaceful dialogue as their main instrument to resolve differences that may occur at any time.
Ethiopia cannot take two hundred years to learn what took the civilized world to come to where they currently are. Instead, Ethiopia will, in information technology terms do a “leap Frog” or “cheetah pole vaulting” meaning it will jump up fast and aside itself within the lines of the advanced and democratic nations of the world. The upcoming national election will prove exactly that if everyone sincerely does his/her homework. Let us all make the upcoming national election a success story.