Ethiopia: Watering Democratic Institutions for a Free and Fair Election

When doubt casts its shadow over an election, chaos that could result in bloodshed will be one of its attendant ills. Such a tragic unfolding erodes citizens' trust on the government.

Also,the absence of this key element in the citizens-government chemistry will pour cold water over a nation's thrust to join the ranks of the affluent.

It as well will scare away development partners that extend aid helpful for locking horns with poverty. For want of democracy that waters socioeconomic and political growth and infrastructural facilities the country will be compelled to continue wallowing in the quagmire of poverty. This way investment could hardly get off the ground.

Besides, in such an election, which sets a bad example for the coming generations, energy, time and resources will lay waste.

It is against the aforementioned backdrop corrective measures are called for.

Above all things, the presence of free and independent democratic institutions in the country will help to render an election a nation intends to carry out a free and fair one that wins the consent of citizens and observers.

As past experiences show the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) was tied to the apron string of the government. As such the country was compelled to conduct elections dubbed by many theatrical events.

The NEBE now set anew has rolled up its sleeve to render the upcoming election a free, fair and democratic one. The fact that on its website it has responded to the over 1,200 questions raised by citizens is a notable measure that bought the credence of citizens and put people's trust that stood on its head back to its feet.

It has made clear citizens have the right to expose possible follies it makes substantiating accusations with facts. This bold move is a litmus paper that testifies the election will be far from window dressing. Great hope is invested on it.

Moreover, the restructuring of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) recently in such a manner it espouses allegiance to the general public and focuses on national issues, is by itself a change for the better. Unlike in the grim past ENDF today is an army that guarantees citizens' right. Today, ENDF is not one that warrants the unfair perpetuation of the government on the power pedestal.

A Crime Investigation Bureau, which comprises Federal and State police officers that will solely preside over election-related safety and security complications, was brought to life this week. This testifies that the Federal police will be an independent and fair organization. It will be patron of the public.

Pertaining to this Federal Police Deputy Commissioner General Head of Crime Investigation Bureau Zelalem Mengiste noted that

"As the government has a firm conviction to impartial election, security forces at all layers are readying themselves for the fair conduct of the forthcoming election. A national security committee that has taken aboard pertinent bodies including state chiefs is gearing up for the smooth conduct of the election, which has a role of shaping the fate of the country. The committee will conduct tasks properly alert that the election presupposes tranquility. The security forces that bear special ID cards would not serve the interest of any party. Candidates, political parties and voters could be rest assured on that score. Areas that beg for added attention will be zeroed on. As the election is one that comes on the wake of the change drive, all necessary measures will be carried out to ensure its fairness."

It was learnt that training would be given to the aforementioned taskforces. Without a clear objective and purpose no security forces will be deployed near the polling stations.

Bringing into light fact-based testimonials the human rights commission too has demonstrated its independence.

The independence of the aforementioned institutions has a great contribution to the burgeoning of democracy in the country. The institutions have to discharge their responsibilities in a free and fair manner.

Media to must remain loyal to the audience and the truth far from hate speeches.

The Ethiopian herald February 7/2021

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