Ethiopian election marred by harassment claim

24 May

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

    Ruling party expected to hold on to power in first election since strongman Meles Zenawi died in 2012 but opposition groups complain of persecution

 

Ethiopians are voting in national and regional elections – the country’s first since the 2012 death of its longtime leader – with the ruling party expected to maintain its grip on power.

More than 38 million voters are eligible to cast ballots on Sunday. Some opposition groups had threatened to boycott the vote, saying their members were being harassed and detained – charges the government denies.

The prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn – a former university professor – has been leading the country since the death of strongman Meles Zenawi, who built the ruling coalition into a powerful political organisation, while opposition groups complain of persecution.

Ethiopia is a federal parliamentary republic, with the party or coalition that wins the most seats in the 547-seat parliament forming the government. All seats were at stake on Sunday, as well as local offices, but Desalegn is expected to remain in power.

In 2010, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front won 99.6% of parliamentary seats. Only one opposition lawmaker won a seat in an election that monitoring groups said was marred by intimidation and the harassment of opposition activists.

Human Rights Watch called that victory “the culmination of the government’s five-year strategy of systematically closing down space for political dissent and independent criticism”.

Those allegations have persisted for this year’s election. The government has denied the claims, accusing the opposition – and neighbouring Eritrea – of plotting to disrupt the vote.

“We remain vigilant and confident that the general election will be peaceful, free and fair, notwithstanding destabilisation attempts that may be tried by Eritrea or its local emissaries, which we will respond to with stern measures,” Desalegn said on Thursday.

More than 45,000 polling stations will be open, with nearly 250,000 election observers assigned to monitor them. The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia said provisional results are expected in a week but final results will not be released until 22 June.
 
/The Guardian/Associated Press
 

Editor’s Note:

    How seriously do people in civilized countries take their ability to freely cast their votes endangered? How would they feel, if in their countries election time witnesses as many heavily armed soldiers, security personnel in election areas as the electorate? They would undoubtedly be intimidated.

    In Ethiopia, the intimidation not only arising from such circumstances has been too much; during election times, these include verbal and physical abuses in different parts of the country. That has been the situation already for several days preceding this Election Sunday.

    True, the African Union (AU) has, as usual, designated about 50 or 60 election observers for a country of 94 million people and nearly 38 million electorate. Already, before it went down with Internet controlled by the ruling party, Addis Fortune reported nowhere are these representatives of dictators to be seen.

    This time around, there are no state representatives or other regional organizations such as the European Union (EU)and major non-governmental organizations observing the election. In his usual lies, the man in the Ethiopian prime minister’s office says, the other observing organizations, especially, the EU did not come, because they are short of funds! He did not want to acknowledge what they have said in public. They do not want to observe TPLF election because it is not credible. Recommendations given in 2010 have not been implemented. This is because election in Ethiopia is about stealing.

    Kelly Seifu (Photo Reporter)

    Kelly Seifu (Photo Reporter)

    For instance, The Reporter in its Amharic edition on May 20, 2015 featured Ms. Kelly Seifu, as foreign election observer. Unfortunately, Ms. Seifu could be foreign passport holder, but for a long time as property owner and related to the ruling party in all sorts of ways she has been known as an interested party in this election.

    There are a number of anomalies about her election observation. For one, she misspoke presenting herself as ‘counsellor’ during the founding of the Organization of African Union (OAU) in 1963. Neither she nor even her late husband, who later joined the Foreign Ministry was not.

    Be that as it may, she owns property in Ethiopia in Adama, what is known as Kelly’s resort and a hotel. Moreover, in 2013 The Reporter featured her as environmental activist and also one of the directors on the board of Lem Ethiopia. Her Kelly’s Retreat was reported to have been home to more than 3,000 types of trees.

    Aigaforum, the ruling party’s propaganda outlet had made publicity feature for her, which tourist hounding organizations, such as TripAdvisor used to introduce her retreat as both hotel and lodge.

    When the TPLF became short of foreign observers, they announced that she lived in Switzerland and the United States. She was in those countries accompanying her late husband as diplomat, especially in Geneva. How did she all of a sudden become foreigner and director of Freedom for Hunger (sic), as the Reporter (English) put it in an article that since has been withdrawn. The Amharic version has still kept that article, with her non-existent organization. There is, however, Freedom from Hunger; but her name does not appear in the list of senior staff, including all directors.

    In the circumstances, if today’s election is to be judged even by what The Reporter wrote Suday with its reporters in different regions, there are a lot of anomalies – other than the observers issues. There are problems that range from rejecting voting cards to chasing away opposition electoral observers in many places. That is aside, the violence to which many members and supporters of opposition groups have been subjected to.

    Although Ethiopians are not noisy people, today’s Ethiopian quiet may be at time a necessity, it is also important to differentiate that cemeteries could also be eerily quiet. However, the quiet in Ethiopia in the last days leading to today’s election has been the fear of being hurt in violence and death in the hands of the state and TPLF thugs – so called youth organizations that for a long time have been armed, by official admission, and hired hands.

    For instance, regarding the quiet n Bahir Dar (Amhara Region), The Reporter wrote:

    *   Bahir Dar has been full of soldiers; no business activities whatsoever – not even transportation to districts and outlying neighborhoods.

    *   The paper also observed that in Ambo (Oromia Region) and its environs, opposition election observers have been thrown out.

    Similarly, in Hawassa (SNNPR Region), Andinet election observers are denied their rights to vote and others to participate in the observation, mix of everything over there. They were told they are illegal and were sent to prison. The charges against them were some had spelling errors in their names.

    Within the same region, the only person who received royal treatment, as in long gone Wolyita monarchical tradition, although he never had any blue blood in his veins.

    Sadly for that person, he would certainly prove right. In a speech he made after casting his vote, he reiterated what the whole world has known. He boasted his party would roundly beat its opponents, according to The Reporter.

    En passe, allow us to indulge to reveal that in Ethiopian eyes, especially after his statement in parliament Thursday May 21, 2015 threatening the opposition, he chose to employ the words of Maximilien Robespierre of the French Revolution, as he had done it time and again many times before. In ensuring the humiliation of Ethiopians, he further implied his regime does not care for our nation’s sovereignty, nor about ensuring the safety and security of its citizens.

    One may wonder who Robespierre was. Of him, HistoryToday recalls:

    “[Robespierre] provoked strong feelings, [as does the man in the Ethiopian prime minister’s office]. For the English [Robespierre] is the ‘sea-green incorruptible’ portrayed by Carlyle, the repellent figure at the head of the [French] Revolution, who sent thousands of people to their death under the guillotine. The French, for the most part, dislike his memory still more. There is no national monument to him, though many of the revolutionaries have had statues raised to them. Robespierre is still considered beyond the pale; only one rather shabby metro station in a poorer suburb of Paris bears his name.”

    Similarly, the man in the prime minister’s office, who has been sniffing for Ethiopian blood and dishonor said in parliament last Thursday, May 21, borrowing the guillotine language and threat to opposition leaders that they would be ‘devoured by the revolution’:

    “እጅግ አብዛኛዎቹ የፖለቲካ ፓርቲዎች ምርጫው ሰላማዊ፡ ዴሞክራሲያዊ እንዲሆን ጥረት የሚያደርጉትን እያደነቅሁ፡ በሌላ በኩል ደግሞ እንደዚህ ዐይነት አፍራሽ በተለይ ከመሪዎች የሚመነጩ ጉዳዮች ውጤታቸው ጥሩ ስለማይሆን፡ ዞሮ ዞሮ ራሳቸውን መሬዎቹን ሊበላቸው ስለሚችል፡ ይኼን ነገር በጥንቃቄ እንዲይዙት ለመምከር እፈልጋለሁ… ከዚህ አልፎ ግን መንግሥት ሕጉና ሥር ዓቱን ለማስከበ … የማያወላዳ አቋም የሚወስድ መሆኑን… ለመላው ሃገራችን ሕዝብ ይህንን መልዕክት ማስተላለፍ እፈልጋለሁ።” I admire most of the opposition parties that strive for the election to be peaceful and democratic. At the same time, I would like those that are engaged in adverse actions to refrain from their destructive activities, lest they themselves be eaten on account of their acts…The government is ever ready to take unstinting measures against them…”

That is the terror the TPLF and its agent have unleashed on the Ethiopian people merely for them to remain in the office, as they pledged to do so for the next half century!

That is why election under the TPLF is always accompanied by state violence and dupery.

Unfortunately, even in what the TPLF has practiced for over two decades, its behavior and actions betrayed it once again this Sunday, violence and deceits being what it has been good at, but never good governance of Ethiopia and serving the interests of its people!

It has become unmistakably clear that election in Ethiopia has become the womb of the new Ethiopian intolerance. Unless broken as soon as possible, the entire society is in danger! As it stands now, the regime in Ethiopia is የሽፍታ/ወንበዴ መንግሥት በኢትዮጵያ – literally government by brigands!
 
*Updated.
 

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2 Responses to “Ethiopian election marred by harassment claim”

  1. Isaac Kifle May 27, 2015 at 18:08 #

    The people changed their attitude towards the ruling party because Ethiopia’s economy has been one of the fastest growing in Africa and beyond recently. The World Bank forecasts growth of 10.5 percent in the year starting in July.In 2000 Ethiopia had one of the highest
    poverty rates in the world, with 56 percent of the
    population living on less than United States (U.S.) $1.25
    purchasing power parity (PPP) a day. Ethiopian households
    experienced a decade of remarkable progress in wellbeing
    since then and by the start of this decade less than 30
    percent of the population was counted living on less than United States (U.S.) $1.25
    purchasing power parity (PPP) a day. . This poverty
    assessment documents the nature of Ethiopia s success and
    examines its drivers. Agricultural growth drove reductions
    in poverty, bolstered by pro-poor spending on basic
    services, and effective rural safety nets. However, although
    there is some evidence of manufacturing growth starting to
    reduce poverty in urban centers at the end of the decade,
    structural change has been remarkably absent from Ethiopia s
    story of progress. The poverty assessment looks forward
    asking what will be needed to end extreme poverty in
    Ethiopia. In addition to the current successful recipe of
    agricultural growth and pro-poor spending, the role of the
    non-farm rural sector, migration, urban poverty reduction,
    and agricultural productivity gains for women are considered.

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