Rights group says it is ‘too late to salvage’ upcoming Ethiopian elections – The Associated Press

April 11th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: A human rights group said Friday that attacks on opposition candidates in Ethiopia had doomed hopes for fair elections this month and it was now “too late to salvage” the vote.

Human Rights Watch said it found that candidates and prospective voters had been threatened, attacked and arrested in the lead-up to the elections. Ethiopia will hold local, regional and some federal elections on April 13 and 20. The main opposition party said this week it will boycott the polls. (more…)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: A human rights group said Friday that attacks on opposition candidates in Ethiopia had doomed hopes for fair elections this month and it was now “too late to salvage” the vote.

Human Rights Watch said it found that candidates and prospective voters had been threatened, attacked and arrested in the lead-up to the elections. Ethiopia will hold local, regional and some federal elections on April 13 and 20. The main opposition party said this week it will boycott the polls.

“It is too late to salvage these elections, which will simply be a rubber stamp on the (the ruling party’s) near-monopoly on power at the local level,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Still, officials must at least allow the voters to decide how and whether to cast their ballots without intimidation.”

Findings from a two-week field study by the group in western Ethiopia support allegations made by the main opposition party, which says that 14,000 of its candidates have been forced to drop out of the race in western and southern Ethiopia because of intimidation, arrest and attempted murder.

Another opposition group says around 3,000 of its candidates have also had to drop out in similar circumstances.

The main opposition party announced Thursday it would boycott the elections. Opposition leader Bulcha Demeksa told The Associated Press that democracy has gotten worse since a 1991 coup brought Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to power.

“Democracy in Ethiopia is stillborn. It is not active now,” he said.

Officials from the National Election Board of Ethiopia denied allegations of irregularities, saying reports of threats and intimidation could not be proven.

“We have a vision as a board, and this vision is to see a valid democratic order in our country,” said deputy board chairman Addisu Gebreigzabhier.

Ethiopians will go to the polls over the next two Sundays, choosing among 4.5 million candidates for about 4 million seats at the local, regional and federal level. Nearly every open seat has a candidate from the ruling party, election officials said.

Election officials say there are 26 million registered voters, about a third of Ethiopia’s estimated population of 80 million.

Ethiopia has struggled with free elections and human rights issues in the past. In 2005, police shot 193 protesters in the aftermath of a hotly contested general election that was condemned for its irregularities by international observers. Zenawi, who was re-elected for his third five-year term, said he believed police were too forceful in controlling protesters but maintains the results were valid.

  1. Medekssa
    | #1

    Speaking of Democracy and majority ?

    Ethiopias national language should be changed from Amara minority (Amharic) to Ethiopias majority (Afaan oromoffiaa).

  2. fish
    | #2

    Currently the Government language is (chigrigna) tigrigna not the reach and humorous Amharic the problem has nothing to do with the language.(^^^ ciseleten becherka tila yeyezal alu) ahhahha you should be inclusive and think realistic. I belive you are one of th0se primitive and savage tigrea ppls lib. front who is told what to write.

  3. Zenebe Maleda
    | #3

    Madakesa,

    I know oromos childrens in Elementary and High schools they are learning in Amharic language, but unlike old days oromos childrens are getting the opportunity and access to education. even though, such people like you (Madeksa) and other OLF followers interprate such education as another form of cultural control.

  4. koratu
    | #4

    Dear Medekssa

    I enjoy to see TPLF cadres speaking on behalf of our OROMO brothers and sisters. May be you should ask yourself why Tigray TPLF bandas never understand the ruth demoracy

    Foketam banda TPLF

  5. dinka
    | #5

    Some one is using the name Medeksa to confuse us with the vice chair women of(Kinijit or Andenet).I am sure it is not Amhara or Oromo, that is using that name it is one of the Agamidos(Shabia/Woyanay).They are desperate because Ethiopians have regained their Ethiopianess and the Oromos are claiming their democratic right without the agamidos and they have understood the tactics of these groups. when I was very young(70th) my cousin,my brother and myself went to Asmara to visit our uncle the second day our cousin wanted us to take a tour(walking)but reminded us to speak in Oromifa due to their spies; they were every where on the bus,street corners …you name it;the sad thing is while we were walking we over heard two agents speaking behind us saying”Aheya Metach” personally no one in Addis or many areas in Shoa directly talked to me on that level.I know for a fact Oromia can live peacefully and democraticaly with the rest of Ethiopians but not with these banda,Agamidos.They have no self respect at all.”ke ebab enkulal Ergeb yetebekalene?”

  6. Adamu
    | #6

    Who do you think ‘Non Amara Ethiopians (Gambella,Tigre,Welayeta,Afar….)’ will vote if there were vote casting on the language issue ?

  7. dinka
    | #7

    Truly, which language has been used as a national language in Ethiopia from H.I.M to EPRDF.Unless we see Amharic as a simple as a language to help us communicate then we are seeking a problem rather than a solution.”Amaharic is not only for Amara but for all Ethiopians”
    English is not our forfathers language but we use it so where is the problem?remember some groups said they want Latinia(dead language)of Europeans,Some groups wanted to be like Albanians and look where we are.Let us celebrate what we are and what we have if we want democracy to prevail.

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