Observers assessing conditions
With the schedule for the upcoming general election not yet clear, the European Union (EU) has announced that it is closely scrutinizing the prevailing realities before deploys its election observers to Ethiopia.
Loic Defaye, EU Policy Officer for Ethiopia, who met with Shitaye Minalem, Deputy House Speaker, as well as Tesfaye Daba, Head of Foreign Affairs and Defense Standing Committee of the House, said “Before we take any decisions for the deployment of observers, we need to assess the condition.”
EU’s election observers came to Addis Ababa the previous week, for a two week long assessment task on the existing conditions before it decides to deploy its staff.
As part of the assessment, the delegation held its first dialogue on Tuesday with members of the House of People’s Representatives (HPR).
“The very basic and important criteria regarding the mission, is the usefulness of our observation mission. Would it bring added value to the upcoming election? The process is key,” said Defaye adding, “We consider it advisable for us to deploy our observers in Ethiopia. We are (therefore) talking about security issues, logistics, transportation, and so on.”
Deputy House Speaker Shitaye, on her part explained the government’s current position to the team, underlining the House’s interest to allow the EU, to be an observer on the upcoming election, which its exact date is yet to be unveiled.
She reiterated that the Ethiopian government welcomes the usual support of the EU before, and even during the election process, due to its experience in Union countries elections.
According to the deputy speaker, the House is also committed to facilitating a historic election. “We are very committed to support the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) so that it can conduct a free and fair election.”
She further told the delegates that due to the Horn of Africa’s delicate nature when it comes to the political landscape, the House has been promulgating important proclamations like The Ethiopian Electoral and Political Parties Proclamation before-hand, in order to manage the process peacefully.
Similarly, Tesfaye Daba, on his part said democratization is the major area of the Ethiopian reform in which the government is exerting all possible efforts.
“The primary action of the government was to nominate an independent boss to the NEBE. Birtukan Midekssa, returning from exile, was unanimously elected to head the board, following the nomination by the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed (PhD), Tesfaye explained.”
Unless otherwise the constitution is revised, he said, it is hardly possible to postpone the national election. The government adhered itself to the rule of law, and accordingly, the election will be conducted this year, he affirmed.
Last week, Electoral Officials proposed a tentative plan to postpone the electoral date from the month of May to August 16, 2020.
Birtukan had said earlier this month that plans to hold the vote for parliament and regional councils in May was postponed since neither the government nor the contending parties would be ready.
According to the proposed plan suggested by the NEBE, the new date is tentative while results would be due in the same month, mainly between August 17 and 26, 2020.
However, some opposition groups have reacted to the latest proposed date stating unfavorable weather conditions (due to rainy season) as well as social reasons.