Violence puts free election in doubt advocates say

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Political advocacy groups and electoral elites are expressing concern about the lack of security in some parts of Ethiopia. They say it could hinder the upcoming election. The government says there are no plans to postpone the 2020 election even though some areas of Ethiopia are under command post control while others have been disabled from attacks.
During a recent dialogue organized by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung under the title: ‘election and political parties proclamation of Ethiopia’ senior members of NEBE expressed their concern that if more steps weren’t taken ensure a peaceful climate, it could negatively impact the next election.
The way things are now is making it difficult for all sides to get their views heard, members of the civic association said, adding that the instability affects the election process and fair competition.
The civic society members appreciate the government’s decision encourage civic society to be active in the election process, which was suspended after the 2005 election. They are happy to play a role in a free and fair election process to improve the democratization process. According to them, the peace issue affects their ability to contribute to the election.
Some of the minority parties say the recently amended electrical proclamation is a challenge for them. The proclamation requires national parties to come up with at least 10,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Smaller parties argue that the unstable conditions make it difficult for them to get 10,000 signatures, a dramatic increase from the previous number of 3,000.
Since the proclamation was amended during the extraordinary meeting at the parliament last summer, some of the small parties say that the rules create a rigged system where they can’t compete on the same playing field. However, other parties are happy with the rules.
Sudden attacks and instability have occurred in various parts of Ethiopia. Last week there were killings in SNNP and Afar. Some political parties are reluctant to campaign in towns where unrest may occur, which also presents a challenge for future elections
The election is expected to be held during May 2020. Following the massive reform operation by the ruling EPRDF almost all parties who were also categorized as terrorist organizations have entered the country to compete peacefully.