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Success of Ethiopia's Democratization Said to Lie in Fairness of Elections

Campaigning continues in Ethiopia for the May 15th parliamentary elections. Among the parties in the race is the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, or CUD, an alliance of four opposition parties. It’s hoping to end the 14-year rule of the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, or EPRDF, which currently holds 481 of the 547 seats in parliament.

Dr. Getachew Metaferia is the chair of the Department of Political Science and International Studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. He says the elections are partly in response to an international trend towards democratization around the world. The success of the movement in Ethiopia, he says, will depend on whether the polls are determined to be free and fair.

Dr. Getachew says a win by the opposition could lead to a new constitution, reflecting the will of the voters. The opposition has criticized the current one for permitting regions to separate – thereby, in their view, posing a “threat to the unity” of the nation. Dr. Getachaw says an opposition win would also likely encourage democrats in neighboring Eritrea.