News / Africa

    Ethiopian Opposition Faces Difficulty in Entering Upcoming Elections

    Marthe van der Wolf

    Ethiopian opposition 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.

    Wondimu Golla of the National Election Board said it was not about the logos, but about procedural rules.

    “According to their bylaws it says, the president of the party shall be nominated or elected by the general assembly. But they nominate by some few persons, the high officials there. So we oppose this. They have to strictly follow the bylaws, their own bylaws,” said Golla.

    The National Election Board has given UDJ two weeks to organize a general assembly, and if its conduct is approved the party will be allowed to participate in the May elections. But the UDJ has decided to not hold another general assembly.

    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.

    Voter registration in Ethiopia began last week and up to 60 parties may run for seats in the upcoming elections.

    The Blue Party, formed in 2012, will be contesting elections for the first time. Blue Party chairman Yilkal Getnet said he was pessimistic about the elections as the party has repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to work with the election board on certain issues.

    "They are reluctant, and they did not give us any positive report or signs to improve these things. We did not get any signs that improve the political climate. Now for the coming elections to be free and fair we need to discuss about the political climate, to have a free media, to have international observers to observe the election, and including the budget sharing systems, and so on,” said Getnet.

    During the 2005 elections opposition parties won about a third of the seats, but accusations of vote rigging led to mass demonstrations in which at least 200 protesters died and thousands were arrested.

    The ruling Ethiopia’s Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front has been in power since the overthrow of the military junta in 1991.

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    by: Abel from: VA
    January 19, 2015 7:37 PM
    My friend Alem,

    You always keep mentioning the US, the state department, and American Government.

    But you fail to answer the question. How can a two party dictatorship country like US criticize a country that has 99 parties.

    In the US, you can either vote democRATS or republicans. So tell me Alem, why cant the US , whom you always use to preach your gospel, ., why cant the US allow more parties than 2 parties?

    And even in US there is election drama. So why is it that you try to overthrow governments over minor issues such as this? the Americans did not overthrow governments over issues like you are talking about.
    Is'nt the current government better than derg. Are not those roads and building for Ethiopia? They are not built in Tigray only. Why are you people flaming? Dont you know the bible says whom ever raises a sword dies by a sword. Why dont you people try to calm down and work things out? No you want to be Gangsta 7 eh?

    by: Alem
    January 19, 2015 10:52 AM
    Dear Selam from DC, Nice try to distract from the issues. I hope you are not the Selam who writes from the Consulate.
    one thing about the upcoming elections is that it should be "fair and free." Tplf [aka Eprdf] has vowed it is not going to happen. I live in Addis and you in DC; you get your info through the Consulate, I see peaceful protesters brutally beaten and thrown in jail; civic leaders who entertain ideas/policies different from the ruling group are summarily hunted down as terrorists; journalists and idea leaders are not allowed to participate in their own country's welfare; only endorse what is there!

    Read my previous comment; may be this time you will understand I did not say any of the stuff you injected into the conversation.
    I also advise you to read the recent State Department report on Ethiopia, on restrictive environment on the flourishing of democratic practices, on depth of corruption, on human trafficking, and so on. I am talking about US State Department - the major sponsor [$31 billions of taxpayer's money in two decades] of one-party police state because Tplf is a "key ally."

    by: Selam from: DC
    January 19, 2015 8:59 AM
    Alem,

    Can you please stop accusing the whole government of Ethiopia and show us evidence that the rulers are doing this. Not ESAT trial, but real evidence of what you are saying. Just like you do not want to be accused without evidence and trial, the same thing applies to them too. Regarding the election, i have yet to hear one policy that will be implemented to improve the loves of the country. Instead all i hear is they are bad they are killers they are this and that. Where is the beef? What will you do to improve the country ? Nothing. Just want to be in power for power sake.

    by: Alem
    January 17, 2015 2:12 PM
    I am glad "None from Nowhere" wrote a comment. Now all can see for themselves the type of leaders Ethiopia unfortunately has. Imagine comparing the US with Ethiopia. Texans have to play by the rules to get rich; Tigrayan RULERS in Ethiopia are lawlessly enriching themselves. There is a difference. Texan or Californian goes to jail if found guilty of embezzling. The deceased Meles and his wife on down are still stalking the nation having robbed the state treasury. Global Financial Integrity says 16.5 billion dollars have been illicitly transferred to foreign banks in a decade beginning in 2001! For the depth of corruption since the early 1980s [aid money stolen and unaccounted for; US gov and Int'l NGOs do not want to talk about it] all you need is read what is in the public domain. What Ethiopian rulers have done is to make themselves indispensable to the US and Britain by executing what the two donors are unwilling to undertake for fear of public outcry. Ethiopian rulers now have given refuge to Yemeni tyrant, engaged in torturing prisoners, made millions off child adoption [check recent cases in Atlanta and North Carolina] and young women as maids in the Middle East. "None" does not want the world to know Ethiopia is now the hub for human trafficking and prostitution; tens of thousands youths flee the country despite the talk of "fast growth" and stability. There are over 1 million Ethiopians in the Middle East alone [this is a phenomenon of the past decade]. Ethiopia is also the world's jailer of journalists. The 99 parties we hear "None" talk about is the lone ruling party's [in power 23 years] trick to divide-weaken-and-rule! All one needs to know is what is happening already before the May 2015 elections. UDJ is banned; leaders of parties and activists are behind bars. Unless the reader is from Mars the news of crackdown on the opposition has become a daily occurrence. The sad thing in all this is the US and Britain are complicit and the two publics are left in the dark concerning their tax dollars being stolen by a group that has refused to allow ideas different from its own to flourish. I only hope someone reading this comment would take few minutes to verify my statements and thus be instrumental in saving resources and above all protect human freedoms!

    by: None from: No where
    January 17, 2015 12:06 AM
    You people crack me up.
    So the VOA, thats for american voice right? But america there are only two parties right? So its a two party dictatorship right? Basically you can vote D or R right you can't vote for I, or J, or x y z because there is no other party but the two? So how is VOA criticizing Ethiopia that consist of 99 parties demanding 99 opposition parties ideas with 99 different agendas? Tigray are Ethiopians too. If more Texans start to become rich building the country will californians become opposition party? Not in civilized world. Only when dealing with donkeys. More hard work. To improve this country that has npw reached 11 percent growth. But the donkeys are on the way. Drive carefully.

    by: Peter
    January 15, 2015 9:58 AM
    The State Department has already decided Tigray Liberation Front [Tplf as Eprdf] should continue its repressive rule. Tplf is "key ally" and has been delivering the goodies - a Drone Base in southeast of the country, home for Yemeni tyrant Ali Abdullah, "peacekeeping" in South Sudan, 200 health workers for Ebola-struck Liberia [to sub for Americans], keep Somalia divided and weak, steal aid money, jail journalists and abolish free press, Tplf "generals" Tsadkan in South Sudan and Seeye in Liberia working for the US, making money exporting children to the US [over 7,000] and young women to the Middle East [over a million]. The list goes on. Please check Amnesty, State Department, Ethiopian Gov reports.

    by: Z-ETHIOPIAn from: Anywhere on this earth
    January 15, 2015 7:40 AM
    Ethiopian politics as usual! It is beyond my comprehension on how the so called opposition parties are so inept and disillusioned they couldn't comprehend with the fact that, they have the greatest opportunity to present themselves as capable of leading the country and are democratically inspired and explain their position to the people of Ethiopia, but instead they are picking and pocking on nitty gritty little staff in hopes of instigating arguments possibly fights between the ruling party, themselves, and the people of Ethiopia and that shows them on how as wickedly and inept as they may be to the Ethiopian people, living EPRDF unopposed, which is not the fault of the ruling party, at all.

    They couldn't even use the media time and the fund that has been given to them stipulated by virtues of the law of the land, as it is done in any other democratic nations. The Ethiopian oppositions parties facing difficulties in presenting themselves for the upcoming election in the country is undoubtedly self created rather than being the ruling party's obstacles.

    by: Brhanu from: Addis Ababa
    January 15, 2015 1:54 AM
    our country is known for its multicultural sysem and this can be performed by the visionary party. however, in Ethiopia no one is a visionary though the ruling party EPRDF is the best compared to the so called oppositers. The opposite parties are running for pawer only without having a vision that lead our country to better democratic state because they are narrow thinkers and they always think anti unification of Ethiopia but its name is belong to Tigray, Afar, Amhara, Oromiya, SNNP, Benshangul gumuz, Gambela, Somalya and Harari regions And Dire Dawa and Addis Ababa city Administraions. Therefore, if one of the listed is absent, the name Ethiopia will be changed!

    by: rebel from: who cares
    January 14, 2015 10:32 PM
    hold on u mean to tell me the corrupt, oppressive gov is holding fair & free election. they don't even know those words
    some of us are in lightened & might be a real threat! watch

    by: Abdulbasit from: Addis Ababa
    January 14, 2015 6:37 PM
    The opposition parties had anti constitutional attitude, they didn't believe in the will of Ethiopia people, which is Constitution. The election board had its rules and regulation that applied to all parties. For example. UDJ had no finanical statement! Huh! So how this party finger at election board? UDJ had two great faction of team. One say other illegal. Which the Election board can take? It is up to UDJ. Semayawi party is being trying to compete wd law, rather than competing wd another parties. This is really shame. These parties are disaster to Ethiopian democratic progress. Their problem is with the constitution. They didn't deServe to represent Honoured Ethiopian People.
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