The Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRC) revealed multiple voting irregularities and vote manipulations it witnessed during its election observation mission.
The council, which dispatched a team to observe the sixth general elections, publicized its preliminary election observation report on Friday, July 2, 2021 at Sapphire Hotel.
EHRC said there were some instances where its observers were barred from observing the process.
The council indicated that it deployed 515 observers in eight regions and two city administrations.
The observers are said to have covered 4000 voting stations to monitor the overall process of the election and human rights situation during voting day, and post-election periods.
Members of the team were subject to intimidation and harassment in various areas including in Gonder, Adama, Sidama, Addis Ababa, Nekmete, and Sebeta, while they were trying to monitor the process of the election, the report reads.
It also said that in most of the polling stations the council observed, election officers did not prepare the minute that was supposed to be written in front of candidates’ representatives and public observers before the voting process commenced.
Though the law stipulates that security officers are not allowed within 500 meter radius of polling stations, the preliminary report by the Council indicated that it had witnessed the presence of security officers in violation of the law.
Furthermore, it also noted that in addition to election officials who were authorized by law to coordinate and direct the voting process, there were other entities dubbed ‘’volunteer youths’’ who were engaged in organizing queues, teaching about voting, congregating around the vote casting area, embedding papers and alike.
The report highlighted the abuse and pressure on voters and candidate representatives by the lower tier of government officials.
Furthermore, a severe shortage of ballot papers was witnessed and eventually, polling stations were closed without a branch office or electoral board accreditation.
According to the report, a huge number of election officers had limited experience in vote counting and observers were not allowed to monitor the process. Some were prohibited from participating in the counting process.
Established in 1994, the EHRC is a non-governmental human rights organization working on the promotion and protection of human rights in Ethiopia that stands for democracy, rule of law and respect of human rights.