BY ADDISALEM MULAT
Early this week, the 6th much-talked-about Ethiopian election ended up in an orderly fashion. Voters’ turnout has been high and the polling processes have also been democratic and peaceful. Despite the tsunami of misinformation fanned by some media outlets, the general election has come out successful. This is not a mere comment, it rather is a hard fact corroborated at least by the candidates, voters and now the local and external observers involved in the voting process.
According to the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) election observation mission (EOM) based on the information collected, the EASF Election Observer Mission concludes that the 6th general election held on 21st June 2021 in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia was conducted calmly and peacefully. The EASF EOM wishes to express its appreciation and gratitude to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the relevant authorities including NEBE for supporting and facilitating our mission.
The mission also observed that election materials were available in sufficient quantities in most polling stations visited. However, in some polling stations, there were insufficient ballot papers. Ballot boxes were observed to be generally well-sealed and in all polling stations visited the polling booths used guaranteed the secrecy of the ballot. Besides, EASF EOM observed that the election turnout was generally high in most polling stations visited with very few turn-away voters.
EASF EOM observed a satisfactory gender presence and high turnout of women voters in most of the polling stations visited. The EASF EOM noted 34% of women as electoral personnel and82% as domestic observers at the Polling stations visited. There were also a large number of young people working as polling officials.
The EASF EOM observed that in 87% of the polling stations visited, the required number of 5 polling personnel was met. In most of the polling stations visited, the Presiding Officers looked overwhelmed as they were part of the polling staff and EASF EOM observed that 89% of the polling stations visited, the layout did not allow smooth movement of voters.
In fact, the election process was predicted to be peaceful and fair ahead of the voting day and the government was confident in its security and the independence of the electoral board which were much–needed ingredients for conducting a successful poll. Yes, hard work paid off!
In an interview with Fana Broadcasting Corporate aired on Wednesday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said: “In connection with the election, we have made a great effort to make the 6th national election fair and credible. We have left no stone unturned to make the election a democratic one. We have been discharging a wide spectrum of duties and responsibilities intending to make the upcoming election which is going to be held on June 21, 2021, fair and free. The whole thing has been moving in the right direction.”
The support that has been provided to the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) is incomparable compared to the past elections that took place in the length and breadth of the country. The board possesses good offices which enable employees to carry out their tasks with flying colors. The other thing is staffers working at NEBE have been discharging their duties and responsibilities devoid of the interference of the government.
In the same manner, contesting parties’ leaders and concerned stakeholders managed to nominate members based on their interests through discussion without the interference of the ruling party. On top of that, the budget that has been allocated to NEBE is in many folds higher than the previous five elections that were held all over the country. We have as well made some amendments. Back in the day, as the board did not have a fully-fledged structure, employees were not free to exercise its power as it wished.
“But in the current context, they have been performing their activities on a full-time basis and making decisions on their own. We have not ever interfered in their decision except standing by the side of them,” he said adding that on the subject, our main targets are creating conducive environment to make the election a democratic one and minimizing problems that were created by the ruling party. The other target is serving the general public trustfully if we end up becoming winners and other related aspects.
Further cementing the Prime Minister’s assertion, Adem Kamil, assistant professor said: “We have accomplished voting with a stable and peaceful way whereas enemies were hoping for ferocity. It can be defined as Ethiopia has won the victory since all actors in the election have prioritized the nation’s interest over their own ones.”
Despite some minor logistical and coordination shortcomings, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has played a huge role in conducting the election in a fair, free and independent manner, he stated.
While the 6th election has been the talk of the country, the Ethio-Sudan border issue is among the pressing matter Ethiopians continue to take seriously. It has been quite months, since Ethiopia and Sudan entered at loggerhead with the latter seizing Ethiopia’s border territory and becoming hawkish. Sudan’s forces have even killed Ethiopian farmers while displacing many. On the contrary, Ethiopia has been trying to find diplomatic solution to the problem.
Accordingly, Prime Minister Abiy was asked about the border tension by the journalist. He said, “It is abundantly clear that Sudan took control of the Ethiopian border at the time when the Ethiopian National Defense Forces that have been guarding the border headed to Tigray region to partake in the law enforcement operation.
“After they took control of the area, they did not come into conflict with Ethiopian soldiers on the grounds that the people of Ethiopia and Sudan are brothers. Sudanese people love the people of Ethiopia and are very close to Ethiopia. Against this backdrop, we give priority to getting to the bottom of the border dispute in an orderly manner. As both countries do not benefit from war, it is better to resolve the problem through dialogue. The other options will expose both nations to harm without a shred of a doubt,” he added.
He stressed that as we have passed through many ups and downs with the people of Sudan. We are two people who can grow together. I believe that we can solve our problems in an atmosphere of calm. I strongly believe that the conflict can be resolved in a peaceful atmosphere and using legal means. But if they all fail to bear fruit, nobody can take our border.
Ethiopia’s diplomatic approach towards resolving the tension with Sudan has already gained recognition from the outside world. On Wednesday, talking to visiting Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Demeke Mekonnen, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov lauded Ethiopia’s approach to peacefully resolving the border dispute with Sudan and resolving problems through diplomacy.
On the other hand, the situation in Tigray has been both source of discussion and misinformation where, the Prime Minister gave highlights on. Abiy in his interview stressed the need to get rid of poverty and the fugitive juntas to pacify the state. Unleashing the people of Tigray from the yoke of poverty and the Terrorist TPLF junta is the responsibility of the government, said Abiy.
Due to the law enforcement operation, additional people have turned out to be aid-dependent. In earlier times, more than 1.9 million people were dependent on Safety Net Programme residing in the region. However, the government is capable of providing aid to them, he stated.
“We have been putting several undertakings into effect targeting repatriating migrants. Nowadays, efforts have been made to make 70% of farmers inhabiting in Tigray region involve themselves in farming. As the harvest is not enough the government will keep on providing assistance.”
The Ethiopian Herald June 25/2021