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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs