Ethiopia: Over 18.4 Million Register to Vote

(file photo).

More than 18.4 million voters were registered for the upcoming general elections until April 22, 2021, according to the National Election Board of Ethiopia. The voters have been registered at 41,659 polling stations.

Registration has been delayed in some regions, especially in Somali and Afar, because of security concerns and disagreement arose between the regional governments and the NEBE.

Understanding the delay, the Board has extended the deadline for the election by three weeks in Afar and Somali region, while two weeks has been given for other regions and the two city administrations.

In a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) at the Office of the Prime Minister (PMO) in order to evaluate the progress of voter registration throughout the country, the heads of each regional state and the city administrations presented a report.

At 84 percent, Dire Dawa is the highest performer in voter registration among all regions and city administrations, while Somali is the least performer with 43 percent of the population registered to vote for the upcoming elections, according to a report presented by the respective heads of the administrative units during the meeting at the PMO.

Based on the reports by regional heads and mayors of the two city administrations, 28.6 million people have been registered to participate in the elections. That is an exaggerated figure compared to the latest report of the NEBE released the same day that puts the total number of registered voters across the country at 18.4 million.

Addis Ababa, where only 200,000 voters registered until April 15, 2021, has seen a significant increase in the number of citizens who have taken voter's ID card, reaching 1.2 million by April 22, 2021, accounting for 88 percent of the target, according to Adanech Abiebie, Mayor of the Addis Ababa City Administration.

"There were even polling stations that reported they have run out of voting ID cards because of the surge in the number of people registering to vote, though this has been quickly solved after the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) promptly responded by distributing more supplies," Adanech said during the meeting, which was attended by Birtukan Mideksa, Chairwoman of the Board, and her deputy, Wubishet Ayele.

Despite the unexpected increase in the number of voters, however, NEBE extended the deadline for voter registration, explaining some regional states are still behind schedule and are yet to meet the targets.

"We are a day away from the deadline for voter registration. You have heard reports of the progress. Some regions performed better while others are struggling because of the failures of all stakeholders," said Birtukan.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister's Security Affairs Advisor, Gedu Andargachew explained that many polling stations throughout the country are ready to peacefully undertake elections, except for few spots.

"We have assigned police officers to guard polling stations, while in some areas, where there is shortage of security officers, militias who have the public's trust have been deployed," said Gedu.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, meanwhile, urged Presidents of regional states to ensure the full functionality of pending polling stations in the coming week, while calling on citizens to depart from emotion led actions and rather work together for stability and peace.

Our attempts to reach Soliyana Shimelis, NEBE Communications Advisor, through phone calls bore no fruit.

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