Election Update – Eskinder Nega (Addis Ababa.)

May 23rd, 2010 Print Print Email Email

Update 2 on Election Day: 6:30 PM (Addis Ababa time) (more…)

Update 2 on Election Day: 6:30 PM (Addis Ababa time)

Voting polls closed at 6 PM around the country (I don’t know if at all places) amidst charges of serious irregularities by main opposition groups. The charges are being investigated by foreign observers. While voting was largely peaceful and uneventful in Addis, reports of irregularities reached opposition offices in Addis from the regions as early as 8 am. Reports of voters and observers being turned away; and pre-marked ballot papers being found in polling stations has marred the credibility of the outcome of the election.

Polling stations were mostly devoid of people after two in the afternoon in Addis. “ Most people voted in the morning. Almost 80- 90 percent in our case,” said a polling station chief to foreign reporters. “The electoral process is impeccable.” And none of the long lines that was reported by AFP was evident in the polling stations that I visited in Addis with foreign journalists either in the morning or afternoon. Neither did the many people we talked with complain of long lines. “There hasn’t been a repeat of the long lines we saw in 2005. There is low expectation about this election and the absence of long lines is a reflection of that sentiment,” says a pundit who went to his polling station quite early to cast his vote.

Scores of people refused to tell foreign reporters whom they voted for as kebele officials unabashedly eavesdropped on the interviews around Addis. One middle class couple we met outside a polling station in Bole secretly confided that they had voted for Medrek, but admitted that they were worried about the huge number of women and youth “bribed to give their vote to the EPRDF.” And were even more pessimistic about the opposition’s prospects. “They will not let them win. This is not about what the people want.”

But others were less circumspect. “I voted for the EPRDF,” said one of the many sympathizes of the EPRDF who showed no qualms about revealing their choices. And why did you vote for it, we ask. “Because I want peace,” he replied rather energetically. “Does this mean that their will be no peace if the opposition wins, he was asked. Confused and flabbergasted, he walks away without really explaining himself.

Polling officials we talked with said that counting will start as soon as polls are closed. “We will paste the results tomorrow morning for all to see. We will also notify the results to the electoral board. And it should be able to release provisional results as of tomorrow,” told us a polling station chief in Bole late afternoon.

Will continue to update you tomorrow.

Update on Election Day: 2:00 PM

Voting started as early as 7AM this morning in Ethiopia’s more than 44,000 polling stations. I visited polling stations in Addis this morning as a translator to foreign journalists. Our first sojourn in Wereda 12, which was Birtukan Medeksa’s neighborhood before her imprisonment, where a heated argument between Medrek’s candidate in the area, Baheta Taddssse, and what his supporters said was a federal police in civilian cloth briefly threatened to escalate in to scuffle. Baheta, who was being visibly harassed by a kekbele official, was confronted by the alleged federal police in civilian cloth as he came out of a polling station after casting his vote. “Don’t we have rights like you do?” screamed an agitated Baheta to a woman (a kebele official) in her 40s as she took pictures of him on her mobile phone. The police, who were standing a few meters away, did not intervene.

The long lines at polling stations seems to be of a bygone era, as no more than 20-30 people stood at a time in line to cast their vote. “There are no lines because we have more polling stations this year,” said a polling station chief when asked if the turnout is less than it was in 2005. “People are coming out to vote. For example, of the 1000 people registered to vote here, 500 have done so and its only 10: 30 in the morning.” But even with the new polling stations part of the equation, the turnout seemed underwhelming to most of the people we interviewed. “The lines were long by 7 AM in the morning in 2005.Where are half of those people?” asked one young man whom we talked with as he came out of a polling station. And why does he think there are less people, we ask. “There is less enthusiasm this year,” he replies, his eyes fixed on an obvious government emissary who stood nearby listening to everything that was being said. Can you tell us whom you voted for, we ask. He politely declines, still eyeing the person who was standing nearby. But another young man was more forceful. “I voted for Medrek, and so will most people. I have no question that Medrek will win,” he said, not in the least intimidated by kebele informants that we all knew that were standing nearby. So you think change will come, we inquired. “No,” he responded seriously. And why not? “No will be able to assure fair tallying of the votes.” One of the foreign journalists with me was intrigued, and wanted to know why he would bother to vote if he has no confidence in the process. “Because it’s better than doing nothing.”

In each polling station that we visited, five election observers, notionally independent but distrusted by the opposition, sat visibly in the middle of the room, while political parties’ representatives sat a few meters from them, almost all of them with a pen and paper in hand silently taking notes. In some polling stations not all representatives of political parties were present, though we were to find out later that none have been turned back in Addis. “I just got here and no one was here from my party,” told us one of them. “I am accredited to observe in different precincts, so I sat down.” Did you observe any problem, we ask. “No,” he replies, much to the delight of the EPRDF representative sitting next to him.

But the reports coming out of the regions were really alarming. In Tigary, where Seye is running, election observers have been overtly intimidated; in one instance the police fired in the air to frighten them. Some had been arrested and released after few hours. “All we worked for is on the verge of being lost,” said Seye to foreign journalists by phone. In the Amhara and Oromo regions the opposition complained of scores of voters were being turned away from polling stations, and their observers being denied access to polling stations. The head of the EU observer’s mission, who spoke to reporters at 11 in one of the polling stations in Addis, acknowledged that he had received allegations of irregularities, but deferred from passing judgment at such an early stage.

Will update you at six when the polls close.

  1. Anonymous
    | #1

    Thank you Abugida for keeping us informed. You are doing a great job.

  2. Anonymous
    | #2

    Good job, Abugida

  3. ስመኝ
    | #3

    ምርጫ ???? በተለይ እኛ በውጭ የምንኖር ዜጎች ነጮቹ ከሚገምጡት ዲሞክራሲ እየተቁዋደስን ለወገኖቻችን መብት መከበር ደንታ ቢስነታችንን እየታየ ነው:: ምርጫ በሌለበት ስለምርጫ ማውጋት ምጸት ነው::

  4. Drama
    | #4

    We know what the outcome of this election will look like after picking up few official reports, yet the foreign medias are quite. The EU might come out with an official report saying that the votes were rigged. No matter what they will write, Shame on the them for not monitoring this election properly. Some of their observing officials were not even at their booth. I don’t think they want to count votes against their own slave government. What do they want from us? Do we know? Maybe they think we are stupid.

  5. Chala
    | #5

    The AFP also quoted that Adissu Buebre Egziabher, the vice chairman of the electoral board, rejected the allegations. “This is totally absurd. They are complaining without any evidence,” he told AFP.

    How do you think, the main judge of the election game (election board) who fiercely rejects automatically any allegations of irregularities by oppositions without any attempt of investigation, can be considered a neutral body or a front fighter of one part?

    Is it not shame for Ethiopia having such a denqoro (uncultivated and illiterate) citizen, who even doesn’t try to make any cover to hide his partiality, and abuses the power with imunity?

    Thank you.

  6. Chala
    | #6

    My message is clear. If you follow the jounalist ethics, who is devoted to the truth, post it. Otherwise, you can choose and post coments that you like, considering the need to respect the profession.

  7. atuba dolla
    | #7

    The guided principle of woyanae/eprdf is communism which is added to it is revolutionary democracy;in such a system,it is only those of Zinawians are advantageous and benificial because they are the ones who established the system that oppresses and suppress people.

    Of course,people under a democratic government are alwyas winners;but those of ours in Ethiopia have been suppressed and oppressed for the past twenty years and even if they would wish to elect and chose those of candidates who are trustworthy and responsible,they coudn’t because they are under threat and terror by Zinawi regime.Therefore,how could the 2010 election be fair,free,and democratic?

    This election is already a done-deal by plan and by design;hence the outcome is just Zinawi to declare victory.It is relly a battle,it is really ardous,and it is a long march that needs a lot of sacrifices;for this Ethiopians are already congnisant of the reality and will continue to fight Zinawi and his regime tooth and nail until Ethiopians stand on freedom podium in victory for all.

  8. Anonymous
    | #8

    It is not a shock, most Ethiopians knew wicked Meles was going to steal the votes and claim victory. The question is, what needs to be done to merge all the opposition parties?

    I wish Meles to experience all the worst things in life.

  9. aha!
    | #9

    Thanks to your all inclusive reporting of the voting process during the election day. As an ankorman did you have the opportunity to interview the voters as they come out of the poll at least from one polling station of the many voting stations you, meaning more than one person?

    I have already said win or lose Medrek will have a seat in the parliament as a bicameral chamber of parliament with its new teletafi parties, despite the fact the leaders lost seat in the parliament in a three-way thug of war among TPLF/eprdf, Tigrai-Harena, and KAEUP, EDP and others for unity, territorial integrity, sovereignty of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, should the vote show otherwise in favour of TPLF/eprdf which has governed without the consent of the goverened for the last 19 years under a tight, massive network of security forces, with newly crafted legislatures to curb on the democratic process and individual freedom, to which Medrek has collaborated by holding on to ethnic and/or secessionist policies and/or politics of TPLF/eprdf. To me Medrek is a rivalery to TPLF/eprdf for exceeding each other for majority seats over the same agenda and a spoliler for KAEUP, EDP and others, both in terms of individual conests in each woreda and the national outcome for majority seats in the parliament.

  10. aha!
    | #10

    Addendum: to the first paragraph add ….the polling stations you have visited?

  11. kassahun
    | #11

    I am vindicated. I hope this will be a good lesson to the foolish opposition. Meles played them to his advantage. He legitimized his stay in power without giving them a thing. This election should have been boycotted. Period!

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