An official of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) says the party is working with opposition parties to ensure the upcoming general election scheduled for May this year is free and fair.
Sekou Toure said international observers have been invited to monitor the vote.
“We have internationally accepted code of conduct or laws for the political party activities and these laws are internationally accepted. International observers will be here, they (have) already been invited to observe our election. And the people of Ethiopia in different ways have already elected their public observers for the elections,” he said.
The upcoming vote scheduled for May this year will be Ethiopia’s first since the 2005 disputed election in which about 200 opposition partisans were reportedly killed by the police.
Toure said the election will strengthen Ethiopia’s democracy.
“We are trying to work with the opposition political parties to make sure that everything is done according to the law. And we are really hopeful to work together and make it democratic and finally the whole process will be good. The playing ground will be level for every political party and finally, it will be credible,” Toure said.
Meanwhile a recent Human Rights Watch report says Ethiopia jailed opposition members and has passed laws that outlaw most human rights organizations.
It also stated that the limited political space which existed during the 2005 general election has been reversed.
The report further states that opponents of the government, including ordinary individuals face repression that discourages and punishes free expression and political activity.
But Toure denied the ruling party is repressive.
“This is really a white lie. Anybody can see that the opposition political parties are working freely in this country. And as everybody knows, we have reached an agreement… on code of conduct, which has become law of the land (and) endorsed by the parliament and 65 political parties are (bound) by that. The main motto of this law is to make the coming election free, fair or democratic and also peaceful,” Toure said.
He added that the EPRDF does not consider the Human Rights Watch’s report serious since in his words the charges are part of the opposition allegations against the government.