News / Africa

'Democracy is on the March,' Says Ethiopian Official

James Butty

A senior Ethiopian government official says his country is ready to hold the May 23 parliamentary elections in a free, fair and credible manner.

Communications Minister Bereket Simon says allegations of politically motivated killings are a fabrication of the opposition to convince the international community that this week-ends polls will not be credible. He says the government has broadened the democratic space to avoid a repeat of the protests that followed the last national polls five years ago.

“First, we have drafted a code of conduct which was discussed by a majority of the political parties,” he explained.  “Secondly, we have formed a joint party forum; the public broadcasting service has allocated about 570 hours of radio and television time to the parties; [and] for the first time in our history the federal government has given political parties financial subsidies. So, in our opinion, everything is in place for the upcoming elections.”

Bereket said voter registration has gone well.

He said assertions by the opposition that the government was already violating the electoral code of conduct were part of a smear campaign by some in the opposition.

“Based on the facts on the ground, all pending cases that were submitted to the joint party forum have been investigated, and 95 % of the cases have been found to be untrue,” said Bereket. “Secondly, I hear that such concerns are raised by the parties who haven’t signed the code of conduct.  [They] declined to sign the code of conduct and yet [have] the audacity to accuse the ruling party of violating [it].”

He said the Ethiopian National Human Rights Commission has investigated allegations of politically motivated killings in Tigray and Oromia and has found them to be false.

Bereket said demands for an independent investigation are unnecessary.

“What is independent apart from the National Human Rights Commission? This is an independent commission accountable to the parliament. And the unfortunate thing was it invited the political parties who registered their complaints to be part of the investigation, and they declined,” said Bereket. “They are accusing the ruling party, and yet they failed to appear at every investigation. So this is a politically motivated campaign to show that the electoral process is not credible.”

He defended the continued imprisonment of opposition leader Birtukan Mideksa and brushed off criticism that without her participation, the May 23 elections would not be fair.

“This is a system where everybody is equal before the eyes of the law. So if she has violated the rule of law, she has to bear the consequences. That’s what we did, and there is no backtracking from it,” Bereket said.

Bereket denied that democracy in Ethiopia has failed to take hold since the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) came to power in 1991.

Instead he said democracy has been maturing.

“As I told you, democracy is coming of age in Ethiopia, and we see the maturing of democracy every passing year,” said Bereket.  “We have expanded the space.

“In any case, that [allegation that democracy has digressed] is a fantasy of the opposition who want us to fail. But democracy is firmly rooted in Ethiopia, and there is no backtracking from it,” he added.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid