Detention of politicians burdens Board
Political parties in the country ratified a directive governing discussions among them under the auspices of the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE). This was done at a consultative meeting held with the Board on Wednesday, February 2, 2022 at Radison Blu Hotel, Addis Ababa.
The parties had previously identified draft agendas for their discussions through the platform established by the directive. The identified agendas include issues concerning political parties such as support and formation, NEBE’s organization, civic and voter education, election 2020 and local elections, the constitution and the federal system, democratic institutions such as mass media, and national consensus including reconciliation and census, foreign policy, as well as nation building.
The directive signed by more than a score of political parties aims to “Construct a common vision among political parties by eliminating distrust among them except for healthy competitions,” “enriching ideas to respond to national issues by bringing problems created during the ongoing reforms in the country” and “create a conducive environment for the improvement of political culture in the country.”
The directive, which was a continuation of the 2019 discussions by political parties, also stipulates that, similar platforms could be formed at regional levels.
The Board is to form a committee of experts to support the discussions by placing agendas in order of importance and should come from the parties in writing. The lead of the discussions would decide how long each speaker should take depending on the issue for the party, as well as the level of the debate the issue requires.
The NEBE also took the responsibility of following up on political party members detained in relation to the State of Emergency declared in the country. Except for the Benshangul Gumuz region, there were a total of 23 detainees in various detention centers two weeks ago.
As reported by the deputy chairperson of the Board, Woubshet Ayele, there are only three detainees left, namely Natnael Mewcha, Atekelt Negese, and Alamerew Yirga.
In Benshangul Gumuz, a team of investigators sent out by the Board, found out that, 492 detainees were held in nine woredas. Although 256 had already been released, 236 still remain in prisons.
The investigators sent to Benshangul indicated that the lack of proper data on the detainees, reluctance in organizing files to charge the detainees or take other legal measures, considering the Benshangul Peoples’ Liberation Movement (BPLM) as an illegal party and preventing its members from wearing party emblem bearing T-shirts. This is despite its registration as a legal party and discrepancies in measures in all woredas.
However, after the Board’s discussions with the regional administration and regional and federal security apparatus, the regional government promised it would release 192 prisoners.