Ethiopia: Overcoming Challenges, Realizing the Long-Awaited Credible Election

Ethiopia is set to hold the 6th general elections in the coming June, 2021. All necessary preparations are underway so as to conduct credible election and contending political parties are campaigning with registration of voters continuing.

The upcoming election is receiving more attention as the country is undergoing make-or-break political reforms. In fact, the stakes are high and the opportunities are too many with regard to the election this time as the country is caught amidst challenges. With all preparation in the offing, the government is committed to create conducive environment for citizens to elect their representatives freely and without any pressure.

Time is allocated for the opposition political parties to entertain their agenda and inform the citizens to elect their representatives. The political parties will transmit their political campaigns through broadcast and print media according to a timetable given to them.

Many expect that the upcoming election will be another millstone to catapult the country into new down to democracy. The days leading to the voting day are important to make an election peaceful, fair and credible and so far the process going on well. However, the number of people taking voting card is not up to the expectation and there are some places that are unreachable to political parties due security issues. If these issues are resolved, Ethiopia will hopefully have a more democratic and credible election in its history.

The government in the last two years has been taking strings of political and legislative reforms that may contribute to a more competitive election. For example, the electoral board which oversees the polling has been re-established as an independent institution. Apart from this , a separate body which investigate election problems has been established. Similarly, attorney general and courts have also set mechanisms that only preside over election related complaints and cases separately.

It was known that the previous elections were seen as undemocratic and the current administration is committed to conduct free, fair and democratic election in the coming June. The government is exerting all rounded efforts so as to conduct successful election which is free from bias.

Election related problems are inevitable and establishing an independent investigative body that international standards is a vital step. Ethiopia conducted five general elections which all of them are sham general elections and ruled the country for 27 years.

Unlike previous regime, the government is exerting all rounded effort so as to conduct credible election which will transcend the country to the path of democracy. Office of the Prime Minster of Ethiopia recently said that Ethiopia's 6th National Elections are scheduled to take place in the month of June 2021 a mere few weeks away. The highly anticipated elections will arguably be the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia's first free and fair elections. Since 2018, the current administration has embarked on a path of democratization with a commitment to widening the political space and enabling a conducive environment for a democratic and informed discourse. Realization of this commitment is not without any difficulties. Nevertheless, the Federal government's will to persevere along the intended path of democratization remains uncompromised.

Following the failure of the previous regime to build a democratic culture, Ethiopia is now confronted with the twin challenges of building the necessary institutions and mindsets to enable a robust democratic culture and practice. Ethiopians are also presented with an opportunity to transition the country into a new era of governance and prosperity befitting its long history and aspirations of its proud people and the ample growth potential our country possesses. To this end, the Federal government's commitment to hold the first free, fair and peaceful elections has been founded on ongoing preparations to meet this goal.

A National Election Security Committee comprising members of the Federal Police, the Attorney General, the National Intelligence and Security Service, and the Ministry of Defense and regional representatives has been established by the government to ensure a peaceful and legitimate election. Discussions have been underway on the role the government must play in ensuring citizens exercise their Constitutional rights to vote freely.

Special measures are being taken by the committee to identify areas where there is a risk of conflict. To deal with any election related grievances, the Federal Supreme Court the Supreme Court has set up dedicated electoral dispute adjudication benches. Political parties are aggressively campaigning across the country. To help voters make informed choices, election debates among contesting parties have begun with active participation of independent media and civil society on topics of national importance.

With a vested interest and commitment to democratization, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed continues to convene Regional Presidents and the Head of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia with the objective of identifying and resolving bottlenecks or challenges in the pre-election phase. Resultantly, on February 25, 2021 and April 17, 2021, the Prime Minister held virtual meetings to follow up on security arrangements and set up of polling stations in each region.

With a few weeks remaining, citizens are encouraged to timely register to vote in exercising their democratic rights and engage constructively throughout the electoral process to collectively ensure free and fair elections.

Prosperity Party (PP) Candidate Fiseha Yitagesu said that this year's the election is given due attention and there are many challenges facing the country and the citizens need to actively engage in the upcoming elections and elect their representatives. The gate way to resolve such kind of challenges was electing the representative which is acceptable by the citizens. Every Ethiopian need to contribute their parts and the government is working tirelessly to resolve those challenges.

President of EZEMA party Professor Berhanu Nega said that the upcoming general election is expected to lay a cornerstone for a civilized political transition in the country. The general public should freely exercise their rights in the election in a civilized way and the election is the outcome of generational struggle that had stayed for years. The need for the people to participate in this "first ever democratic election in Ethiopia" by respecting the electoral laws and regulations of the country.

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) held discussion with competing political parties about the progress of the registration of voters for the upcoming election. According to board, voters' registration has started across the country and citizens are actively registering to vote and still registrations are underway. Yet NEBE has been leading the election process quite satisfactorily and problems would be resolved in due course as the preparation for the election would be intensified.

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