Opposition Parties Will
Have No One But Themselves To Blame
Ejegayehu Adane Jan 20, 2015
The government and peoples of
Ethiopia have started preparations for the 5th National and Regional elections.
According to the timetable, May the 24th will be the voting date and the result
will be announced on 22 June 2015.
Numerous vital activities have taken
place in the past few weeks. The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE)
successfully distributed election materials to electoral zones across the
In the last week of December, the
peoples gathered in their local districts and elected 250,000 public observers
who will assume have the responsibility to supervise and observe the election
process at commenced in 46,000 polling stations. That is: Each polling station
will have five public observers, while each constituency election office will
have three mobile public observers.
Each polling station around the
country is structured in a way that each station is only allowed to register a
maximum number of 1,000 electorates and the arrangement has been made based on
According to the data obtained from
National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), the Board has allocated 44,454
polling stations, with 222,270 public observers and 547 constituencies with
1,935 election officials.
As far as regional distribution is
concerned, Oromia regional state has the largest number of polling stations,
public observers and election officials with 15,501, 77,501 and 537,
respectively. At the other extreme, there is Harari, with 140 polling stations,
700 public observers and six election officials. Whereas Addis Abeba has 1,523
polling stations with 7,615 public observers, and 69 election officials.
Another key electoral activity that
started in the first week of the new year was the registration of voters.
It is known that there is always a
high turnout in Ethiopia's elections. In the 2010 election, over 29 million out
of the 31 million people registered to vote general had cast their votes, according
to a report released by International Democratic Election Agent (IDEA). The figure
indicates a 94 percent voter turnout which is very high compared to Africa’s
average turnout at 67.3 per cent.
Similarly, some 36 million voters are
expected to be registered in the 42 days long registration timetable. According
to the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) more than 20 million voters
have registered since the commencement of the registration on January 9.
Accordingly, political parties have
started their own preparations. As usual, the ruling party the Ethiopian
People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) reaffirmed its commitment to
democratic, free, peaceful and credible.
The regular session of EPRDF
Executive Committee held two weeks ago confirmed that EPRDF and its government
are ready to discharge their responsibility and ensure free and fair election.
Preparations are also underway to create equal space for all contesting
political parties, it said.
It did disclose that EPRDF has
finalized preparations to provide training to its leaders and members to
effectively implement the election code of conduct, which was approved and
adopted by many political parties during the fourth general elections.
The Committee also urged the public
to contribute their share for the successfully conduct of the election. It also
called on contesting political parties to contribute their share in the efforts
being made to build democracy through contesting in a civilized and peacefully
way in the upcoming election.
Moreover, the party organized a
trainers’ training session for senior government and party leaders aimed at
empowering senior leaders of the party to raise their awareness on the election
proclamation and ensure the fairness and accountability of the upcoming May
According to EPRDF Council Secretary
and PR Head Desta Tesfaw, the training aimed to boost the capacity of
officials, ranging from federal to local government ranks, and contribute in
making the political sphere more accommodating to all and to sustain the
process of fostering a multi-party system in the country as well as promoting a
favorable competing environment for political parties thereby enhancing the
political sphere and boosting the process of building a democratic system in
Similarly, most of the opposition
political have started preparations for the election.
For example, the Ethiopian Federal
Democratic Unity Forum (Medrek) disclosed it is being prepared to be strong
contestant at the elections. The preparation of election manifesto and
registration of candidates are among the preparation that Medrek carried out.
The Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP)
announced that the party is striving to actively participate in the election.
United Ethiopian Democratic
Forces(UEDF) disclosed that it has already finalized registration of
candidates. According to the President of the Party, the party is going to
contest in the nine states.
The President of UEDF stated,
"as the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces is a national party, we are
willing and preparing to compete in the nine states. Although we have limited
resources we are trying to assign candidates to all regions." He also told
the media that the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia for supporting parties
regarding finance and provision of trainings on crisis management and urged the
Board for the continuation of the support during the election process also,
saying his party didn't encounter any challenge so far.
The United Ethiopian Democratic
Party(UEDP) is one of the parties that announced that it is on the track to
compete in the elections. The President of the Party said "We are in good
shape to cast candidates in every part of the country." he said.
Coalition for Unity and Democracy
(CUD), is well ahead in election preparations. CUD Public Relations Head,
Sasahuleh Kebede, told media that his party would field many female candidates
at national and regional levels and has also put emphasis on recruiting female
mobile and permanent observers. Moreover, series of training have been given by
the party so that women could become strong competitors in the
New Generation Party (NGP) which is
also advancing in election preparations has noted 35 percent of the total 280
candidates to be fielded by the party across the country are
Speaking of female candidates, the
EPRDF will have the biggest female candidates. In the upcoming election, 40
percent of EPRDF’s candidates at federal level would be women and 50 percent at
Similar preparations are underway by
up to 60 parties who plan to run for seats in the upcoming elections.
In this process, the government and
the National Board of Election had taken measures to ensure the election will
be to democratic, free, peaceful and credible. As Chairperson of the Board
Merga Bekana (Prof.) asserted:
"We in the
Electoral Board say the political space is wide. When we say it is wide we mean
that the service we are providing is satisfying. First we are providing
training for the parties using the best people in the area. Second we have a
close relation with the parties. We are solving challenges by consulting with
In cooperation with the ruling part
and parliamentary opposition parties, the Board have had enacted and amended
key proclamations, such as:
662/2009 - A proclamation to provide for the electoral code of conduct for
532/2007 - A proclamation to amend the electoral law of Ethiopia
573/2008 - Political parties registration proclamation
It have carried out several capacity
building measures as well as the issuance of several important directives:
Code Of Conduct
for the Mass Media and Journalists on the Manner of Reporting about Elections
Regulation Number 6/2010
Directive on the Code of Conduct of Election Officials to Be Recruited at Various
Levels Directive Number 4/2009
Concerning the Procedure for Determining the Apportionment of Government
Financial Support to Political Parties Regulation
Procedure of Grievance Hearing Committees Established by the Board at Every
Level During Elections Regulation Number 1/2009 (As Amended)
Directive on the
Registration of Candidates Number 1/2009(As Amended)
Directive for the
Registration of Electors number 2/2009(As Amended)
Concerning the Procedure for the Activities of Public Observers and
Representatives of Political Parties and Private Candidates Number 3/2009
However, two parties are lagging
The reasons for their delay has been being
Last week, Reuters reported:
opposition member of parliament said on Friday the country's electoral board
had turned down all four election logos his party had submitted, preventing it
from registering for the May election.
Girma Seifu said his
Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) and the board had been haggling over the
logo for months.
"From the very
beginning, (government) activities have not been free and fair," Girma
said. "They do not want us to participate. It is a tactic."
A similar story on VOA claimed that:
parties say they are facing roadblocks in their efforts to register for the May
elections. The parties say the National Election Board is complicating
procedures for no good reason, and raising doubt that the elections will be
free or fair.
The Unity for Democracy
and Justice party has the only opposition member in Ethiopia's 547-seat
parliament. But it is unclear if the party will be allowed to participate in
the May elections, as the National Election Board has rejected UDJ logos.
UDJ vice chairman Girma
Seifu -- the only member of parliament not affiliated with Ethiopia's ruling
party -- said the election board's actions were not justified.
“They do not have any
legal ground or moral ground or administrative guideline to do these things.
Because this is just an interference just to put a block on our active
participation in the election,” said Seifu.
That was echoed by All Africa:
Unity for Democracy
and Justice Party
The truth is far different from this
The National Election Board have been
generous, accommodating and flexible within the limits of the law in its effort
to enable Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) and All Ethiopian Unity Party
(AEUP)take part in the electoral process.
Although the parties have not been
able to solve disagreements that have been created among their leaders and Instead
of convening a general assembly, the parties have selected their leaders in
violation of their own bylaws and Board regulations and therefore failed to
present their candidates for the upcoming general election.
The Board had refrained from
exercising its legal mandate to take disciplinary measures or exclude them from
the election. Instead, it fixed a deadline for them to settle their
disagreements and solve the internal conflicts that have engulfed the two
parties over the past few months.
However, that deadline passed on
January 12, 2015. Although the Board had given the two parties a week's time to
settle their differences through discussion, nothing came out of the
discussions to date.
That was a violation of their own
internal rules and regulations and the political parties registration
proclamation, as Professor Merga noted.
Nevertheless, the Board has continued
to take a generous, accommodating and flexible approach to the matter. In its
report last week, the Board noted that:
AEUP had held its
general assembly without the presence of the Board as the party changed the set
day of the assembly. Some of the leaders were elected after they left the party
and this is against the party's bylaws.
A group within AEUP which is led by
Mamushet Amare, over the weekend elected party leaders, while others elected a
The Board reported
that UDJ is currently split between two factions that held separate general
assembly meetings over the weekend. The two opposing factions of UDJ are led by
Ayele Simeneh and Belay Fikadu.
Professor Merga Bekana, Chairperson
of NEBE disclosed that the two parties have failed to resolve the conflicts by
calling their respective general assemblies and electing their leaders adhering
by the parties rules and regulations and the political parties’ registration
proclamation, before the deadline expired.
The Board extended the deadline and
urged the two parties to resolve their internal conflicts within the coming two
weeks. Moreover, advised the leadership of both parties to come together in
their own respective general assemblies to solve their problems and carry on
their election campaigns.
Therefore, it is the responsibility
of the two parties to make use of the generous, accommodating and flexible
approach of the Board and solve their internal crissis and join the electoral
process before it is too late.