Ethiopian election 2015: who should be the Alpha and Omega observer?  

Election observing is the general over viewing of the conduct of election process by one or more independent parties. Observers could be domestic public, foreign countries, international governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Election observers assess the conduct of an election process on the basis of national legislation and international election standards.

According to Ethiopian Electoral Law Proclamation No. 532/2007, election observers are categorized in to Domestic Election Observers, Foreign Election Observers, Public Election Observers, Representatives of Political and Private candidates.

However the degree of their role may vary, both domestic and foreign Election observers could play vital and eminent role in making national election free, fair, peaceful and democratic.

There is a common view in most of developing nations including Ethiopia that few individuals and political parties may think and miscalculate in a wrong way that only foreign monitors’ observation could make the election process freer, fair, peaceful, democratic and enhance the credibility and legitimacy of election. It’s possible to argue that, more than any external observation, nationwide public observers’ active, responsible and transparent observing mechanisms could make Ethiopian national election 2015 freer, fair, peaceful and democratic. 

According to Ethiopian electoral Law, a public election observers committee shall be established at constituency and polling station level.  Accordingly, each polling station shall have five public observers who shall be elected from among residents of the polling station, while each constituency election office will have three public observers elected from among the polling stations. Executive Directive, No. 3/2008 issued by the Board stated the objective of establishing the public election observers is to enable follow up and closely observe the election process through their representatives.

Ethiopian Public observers have eminent and extra-ordinary roles. They could observe registration of electors, the verification of candidature endorsement signature, the registration and screening of candidates, selection of candidature symbols and publicizing of candidates, casting and counting of votes, summing up of votes, write down and sign their observation on the various electoral forms and documents or in the form of minutes.

Public observers have more advantages than that of foreign observers. The public observers may have more understanding and depth knowledge about election history and system in Ethiopia, observe the election thoroughly from its very beginning to the last end, could cover all election areas and polling stations, have advantage of spending less financial and more human resources than that of foreign observers and may face less language constraint and inter-cultural communication barriers.

According to Articles 78/2 and 81/2 of the Election Law, the government may invite International Observers as deemed necessary and the eligible foreign observers must perform their duty in full compliance with the laws of the country, by respecting the sovereignty of the state and in accordance with the directives issued by the Board. Ethiopian government understands and believes that Serious and professional international or foreign observation could play constructive role in making the 2015 Ethiopian national election free, fair, peaceful and legitimate. International observers could disseminate best practices and experiences; they could enhance credibility and legitimacy, they may help national observers to build their capacity.

 However international observers may have their own draw-backs. These include trying to interfere in the electoral process, being ignorant to local circumstances related to history, culture, and other factors. Foreign election Monitors may often arrive shortly before the vote and usually depart immediately after vote. This hinders their ability to spend enough time to observe the total process of the election. They may face lack of human, financial and technical resource, language and cultural barriers. Lack of objectivity may lead their reports to be tailored to the demands of the funding source rather than fulfilling the mission of monitoring the election.

Ethiopian public election observers could play more vibrant role than that of foreign observers in making election 2015 free, fair, peaceful, legitimate and democratic.

If election observations in democratic government systems should be by the people to the people, Ethiopian general election 2015 must be observed by the Ethiopian public to the Ethiopian public. Nation, Nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia could judge general election 2015 whether it is free, fair, democratic and legitimate or not. Public observers should be Alpha and Omega observers of election 2015.

Therefore, Ethiopian election 2015 observation process must be over seen and judged by the Ethiopian public to the Ethiopian public.

Also it’s incumbent up on all Ethiopian public to actively participate on election process, observation, in encouraging and supporting public observers by accepting their decisions in electoral process rather than seeking for foreign observers’ effort and decision.  


Zekarias Talo Anjulo



Date March 25,2015



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