BY DANIEL ALEMAYEHU
Kenyan American scholar, Ali Mazrui said that the modern Africa has had three historical moments: a moment of colonialism, a moment of liberation, and a moment of democratization. The first two are history, but the last is in progress with hard commitment.
By the end of colonialism and liberation eras in Africa, the people of the continent have been trying to make the land comfortable for their children. In this journey, the major breakthrough has been election and transforming power. As it is the part of democracy and giving lion share power to the citizens, election has become the cornerstone of the development and rebuilding of a nation. Africa has held different election in the course of time. But these elections have had different face of reality; some were chaotic, and some were labeled as good beginnings. However, when the other continents of the world see the election in Africa, they always attach it with unrest, conflicts and killings.
In some countries, elections went with unrest and death of many citizens. It is observed form the Congo (DRC) in 2006 which the election led to the death of hundreds. As it was seen in Kenya (2007) and in Nigeria (2011), elections were stood in altering results through force, based on Social Conflict in Africa Database (SCAD).
Idean Salehyan, an associate professor of political science at the University of North Texas highlighted the ten most violent elections from 1990- 2010. From their study, the most violent one was the 2007 election in Kenya which was the cause for 1502 deaths, and the least was the Sierra Leone election in 1996 which was the cause for 28 killings.
Were there any democratic elections in Africa?
Dr. Wondwosen Teshome B., in his journal posted on International Journal of Human Sciences highlighted that we can find oldest electoral democratic practices in Senegal, Namibia, and Botswana which have remained multi- party states since independence.
In the 1990s, more than 150 African countries held multi- party elections. However, many elections in Africa region have failed to meet the internationally accepted standards for free and fair election.
How were Ethiopians’ previous general elections?
Starting from 1995, Ethiopians have experienced ‘democracy’ like election every five years. By then, the ruling government promised to cease restrictions on opposition activities and allowed access for international observers. But the promises were broken and some of the candidates ended up behind bars.
From the past five general elections, the 2005 general election was one of the best election practices in Ethiopia. This year’s Ethiopian general election is the sixth of its kind.
What is new in Ethiopia’s 6th general election?
After the new government of Ethiopia since 2018, Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed has tried to stretch the political landscape so as to make rooms for every contestant parties. For the expected 2020 general election, the government has showed its commitment to make the election what the people of the country want to see. The exact time schedule for the 6th general election was postponed for two reasons: the first was due to the Covid- 19 out break in 2020, and the second was due to the logistics problems related to the election equipment. After these two constraints, Ethiopia established the third and final day of election, June 21, 2021.
People may wonder the new practices in this general election. The first thing that anyone can observe is the peaceful atmosphere of casting votes. It is obvious that outsiders may think that there will be tensions and unrest in the coming days after the election. On the contrary, the people have casted their vote in a peaceful way.
Compared with previous general elections, this election has the highest number of voters turn outs which is more than 37 million. There are also more than 9600 observers assigned for the election. In addition, the NEBE has appointed former political figure Birtukan Midekisa as the head. This shows how comprehensive this years’ election was.
The major turning points in this general election are the commitment that the government and NEBE showed to make this election a success and the new breakthrough – the Green Legacy.
Both organs have been fighting with the economic and political pressure that Covid- 19 has brought to the globe. In spite of this the NEBE has been operating with 3.7 billion birr which was approved by the Parliament. Two third of the budget has been dispersed to the regions. This amount of money from the government opened the road for better achievement and progress.
Furthermore, the government and NEBE were committed to accomplish the much-awaited election in spite of the daunting challenge of law enforcement operation in Tigray. Fortunately the election has proven a success.
The new breakthrough
In the same token, people might wonder what is really novel and new- fangled about this general election. Apart from the previous major glitches that are stated above, the outstanding breakthrough in this election is the Green Legacy movement.
In this year’s election, voters are expected to be part of both the election and the green legacy. Every voter, after casting his/ her vote, is expected to plant seedlings.
The people of Ethiopia have witnessed that the previous two green legacy movements have helped the country a lot in order to fight climate change.
Thanks to the Premier’s initiation towards the movement of ‘Green Legacy’, citizens of the nation have changed their view with regard to having better ecosystem and greener environment. This action will be a major step to teach the entire world about flourishing new hope in election along with solving global warming.
Therefore, unlike the false claims of the international media, this year’s election is the first of its kind to be free and fair. Furthermore, the initiative to plant seedlings during election is a unique kind of positive movement to nurture mother earth. This deed will also be an example and a spring board for the rest of Africa to keep up the good things on the days that are expected to be chaotic by the outside world.
Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The Ethiopian Herald
The Ethiopian Herald June 25/2021