Ethiopia’s opposition parties criticize election law changes

Saturday, August 24, 2019

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Ethiopian lawmakers on Saturday revised election laws to pave the way for polls next year, but some opposition parties said the changes would make it more difficult for them to challenge the ruling coalition.

A general view shows Ethiopia's Parliament buildings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
A general view shows Ethiopia’s Parliament buildings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

One of the main amendments raised the number of signatures required to register a national political party to 10,000, up from 1,500. Regional parties will need 4,000 signatures, up from 750.

“It is very essential to create an environment where political parties can merge and form a front,” the bill read.

On Friday 57 opposition parties said their proposed amendments to the bill were ignored by the ruling party, who currently hold all parliamentary seats.

The country has regularly held elections since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power in 1991 but, with the exception of the 2005 election, none have been competitive.

Abiy was appointed by the EPRDF in April 2018 after three years of anti-government protests, promising a series of political reforms, including a credible multi-party election in 2020.

The changes to the law approved by parliament will disadvantage opposition parties seeking to challenge the EPRDF’s grip, two senior opposition politicians told Reuters after the bill was approved.

“We had suggestions which were not included in the final bill, for example we are strongly opposed to the provision that civil servants must vacate their jobs if they are going to run for office,” Desalegn Chane, head of the opposition National Movement of Amhara (NAMA), told Reuters.

“This is unfair. Government employees should be allowed to run.”

Merera Gudina, a former political prisoner and the chairman of the Oromo Federalist Congress, said his party’s request to lower the number of signatures was ignored.

“We made a lot of noise against the final draft and were strongly against some of the provisions that were put in at the last minute. It was the invisible hands of the EPRDF,” he told Reuters.

Geressu Gessa, speaking on behalf of a group of opposition parties, told reporters on Friday: “The government should stop its approach of non-inclusiveness and…call a discussion with us.”

Abiy has rolled out a series of political reforms since coming to power last year, including lifting bans on several parties, releasing political prisoners and journalists, and welcoming home exiled rebel groups.

But an attempted coup in June by a rogue militia in the northern Amhara region and rising ethnic violence across the country has raised doubts over the EPRDF’s ability to ensure security and whether the election will be held.

(Reporting by Hereward Holland; editing by Angus MacSwan and Ros Russell)

1 Comment

  1. To get a list of current political parties in opposition to those in the regime is next to impossible. When you find them they have no websites where anyone can read their program. When you found one with a website all you see crying and moaning. That shows none of them are ready to take the mantle of leading that gem of the colored. Those who are hell bent in carving out fiefdom have some type of programs rooted in their demonic philosophy of Marxism/Leninism with Mao in tow. They are the only ones ‘who know the true history of the country, region and the world when others don’t know diddly squat!’ The ones running the show are all LF’ites all founded by communists in the 1970’s and 80’s. Many of the leaders of the opposition were all also once sworn advocates of this very dirty ideology planted in them by global communist conspirators who secured well paying jobs as professors and teachers. One character they share in common is dishonesty. They lie to you thru their teeth. They condemn others for jailing and killing citizens but they top every despot before them in the same oppressive act. Their old time mantra was to found a people’s republic but they don’t tell you the truth that it is them and their entourage that people’s republic. L’etat c’est moi, that is. They will be the new kings who do no wrong. In the process they gobble up thousands and when they are having bumper crop season they murder tens of millions of their own citizens(Stalin & Mao). But all these connivers are now ‘former communists’ ready to do business, ‘market economy’ style. They are so jealous to see how their former classmates and comrades and their ruffian hordes enriched themselves beyond the pale. The mentality is ‘If they can do that I can also do that’. Then such cycle of turns becomes like an ‘entitlement’. When some of the seemingly stronger ones see that their turn is taking longer and longer from happening, they threaten you with dismantling the society and the country. This is what people are recently told by a media mogul that ‘if things are not going my way especially if the new education system is put in place, I SHALL shatter the country into unrecognizable pieces. Mark my word for it!!!’ Ladies and gentlemen!!! From what I hear now it is not clear who is running the country and who the real Prime Minister is over there. LF’ites or the media ‘moguls’? That is not good news.

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