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News Analysis: Following purge of political parties for “failing to meet requirements” and amid complains of opposition …

Dec 25, 2020
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Birtuka Mideksa, Chairwoman of NEBE. Picture credit: NEBE

By Medihane Ekubamichael @Medihane 

Addis Abeba, December 24/2020 – The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) is holding a consultative meeting with political parties to unveil draft election timetable for Ethiopia’s 6th general election today. In addition to the timetable, election experts are expected to discuss issues related with candidate registration, election procedures and political parties’ election symbols, among others. The 6th general election was postponed due to COVID-19.

Today’s meeting came just days after NEBE announced the registration cancellations of 26 political parties, including the Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) founded by the veteran politician Lidetu Ayalew, who spent months in police detention and was released last week. Addis Standard’s repeated attempt to speak with the leadership of EDP were to no avail.

It is also coming amidst calls to end government crackdowns from two major opposition political parties: Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), who have dozens of their senior leadership and rank and file members currently in prison in the capital Addis Abeba and across Oromia regional state.

On December 19, using the hashtag #Plus178CandidatesBehindBars online activities conducted a campaign in which they published several dozens of names of opposition political party prisoners, mainly from OLF and OFC, who are currently in prison. The online campaign was organized by activists including Samuel Bekele, whose father Bekele Gerba of OFC is currently facing charges of terrorism.

Laqst week, it a statement it released, the OFC said that it would find participating in the upcoming election “extremely difficult” under the current circumstances and called for the release of its members and a comprehensive dialogue before the country heads in to elections.

Equal and enough opportunity

The NEBE says that before its decision to cancel the registration of the 26 parties, it has given all parties equal and enough opportunity to comply election laws and that it has followed with NEBE’s Proclamation Number 1162/2011 and political parties’ regulation number 3, Soliana Shimelis, Communications Manager of the NEBE told Addis Standard.

Asked if the decision of the board announced on its social media page  took into consideration the difficult circumstances these 26 parties may be facing such as the arrest of Lidetu Ayalew and its impact on his party to submit thee required documents Soliana said: “Political party’s compliance department tried its best to support parties, build their capacities and also gave time on some issues for clarity, hence NEBE believes that it gave all parties equal and enough opportunity, the lowest compliance standard 35% by itself is a clear case example on this.” 

She also added “Party compliance process was over since months ago; the deadline was in early March (as this was started before the Coronavirus pandemic and the cancellation of the previous election timeline), which means it was over (from the parties side) before any of recent developments regarding political party member’s arrest happened.”

According to Soliana the NEBE also gave special exception for parties like EDP to suspend the compliance requirement of General Assembly due to the interparty issues and thereby EDP had been given enough which shows that the compliance process by NEBE was made to be very considerate and convenient for parties. The board tried to be as considerate as possible and keep many parties on the process by lowering the required founder’s signature benchmark to 35 percent.

The board said that all political parties were requested to submit the required documents in writing and to provide the additional signatures of founding members. Its decision therefore took samples of the details of founding members and screened their information in all regions and all woredas through its regional branch offices before it came to identify incomplete information (such as names of unknown woreda, incorrect woreda, kebele, etc.) incorporated in some of these documents submitted by the parties.

The board in this case said that the verification process took a long time and did not go as planned by the board due to lower level administration data handling limitations such as ID number and incomplete house numbers. Lack of parties’ to provide missing information in a short period of time and lack of staff due to the COVID 19 pandemic were also indicated as a challenge to quickly wrap-up the inspection process by the board.

As a result, the NEBE decided to take 35 percent of the founders’ signatures as a benchmark to approve the registration of valid parties, and it decided to cancel the 26 parties that submitted less than 35 percent signatures and did not meet the remaining requirements of the Board.

  1. The Existence of Amhara for Ethiopian Unity – Scored 24% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  2. Oromo Unity and Democracy Federal Peace and Change Party – Scored 25% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  3. Oromo Abo Liberation Front – Scored 10% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  4. Oromo Independence Unity Front – Scored 4% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  5. United Oromo Liberation Front – Scored 33% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  6. Oromo Liberation Democratic Front (OLDF) – Scored 24% from inspection of details of the sample founding members and failure to convene General Assembly within given time
  7. Oromia Liberation Democratic Party – Scored 14% from inspection of details of the sample founding members and failure to convene General Assembly within given time
  8. Ethiopian Democratic Party – Scored 23% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  9. Dube and Degeni National Democratic Party – Scored 5% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  10. Agew Democratic Party – Scored 19% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  11. Oromo Democratic Union – Scored 18% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  12. All Ethiopian National Movement – Scored 28% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  13. Oromo National Congress – Scored 18% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  14. Oromia Liberation National Party – Scored 19% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  15. Union for Democracy and Freedom – Scored 17% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  16. Somali Patriotic Party – Scored 17% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  17. Afar Revolutionary Party – Scored 9% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  18. Somali Regional Democratic Union – Scored 3% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  19. Consultation for Unity and Democracy Party – Scored 32% from inspection of details of the sample founding members
  20. Woyhimre Democratic Party – Scored 33% and disqualification over different criteria other than inspection of details of founding members
  21. Ethiopian Peace and Democratic Party (EPDP) – Failure to meet the number and composition of its founding members and failure to convene General Assembly with in specified time
  22. Unity for Democracy and Justice Party – Failure to meet quorum and composition
  23. Ethiopian People’s National Movement – Incomplete number and composition of founding members
  24. Netsebrak Amahara Organization – Although it is clearly stated on the form, 2,691 members of the founding members did not provide the surname
  25. Unity of the Finfine People for Justice and Democracy – Number of founding members issue and failure to compile with NEBE’s feedback
  26. Harari Revival Movement – Failure to convene General Assembly in accordance with the deadline set by the Board

NEBE additionally said that the fate of the following 12 parties will be determined based on their ability to provide the required documents to help the board the vetting process:

  1. Hibir Ethiopian Democratic Party
  2. Harari Democratic Organization
  3. Afar Liberation Front Party
  4. Gumuz People’s Democratic Movement
  5. Afar People’s Party
  6. Oromia National Party
  7. All Ethiopian Unity Organization (AEUO)
  8. Gamo Democratic Party
  9. Wolene People’s Democratic Party
  10. All Oromo People’s Democratic Party
  11. Sidama National Democratic Party
  12. Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF)

According to the board, currently, there are 40 political parties that have completed their screening process by meeting the board’s registration requirement. They are:

  1. Oromo Liberation Movement – 51%
  2. Kemant Democratic Party – 57%
  3. Sidama Liberation Movement: 78%
  4. Gideo People’s Democratic Organization – 93%
  5. Gambella People’s Justice, Peace and Development
    Democratic Movement-91%
  6. Ethiopian Democratic Union – 48%
  7. Western Somali Democratic Party – 97%
  8. Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice – 69%
  9. Agwo National Assembly – 45%
  10. Kafa Green Party – 61%
  11. Gambella People’s Liberation Movement – 94%
  12. Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front – 49%
  13. Ethiopian Freedom Party – 37%
  14. Ethiopian Social Democratic Party – 48%
  15. Freedom and Equality Party-48%
  16. Mocha Democratic Party – 72%
  17. Tigray Democratic Party – 79%
  18. Oromo Federalist Congress – 43%
  19. Benishangul People’s Liberation Movement for
    Peace and Democracy – 48%
  20. Afar People’s Fair Democratic Party – 53%
  21. New Generation Party – 64%
  22. Ethiopian National Unity Party – 38%
  23. Wollaita People’s Democratic Front – 99%
  24. Kucha People’s Democratic Party – 100%
  25. Amhara National Movement – 38%
  26. Wollaita National Movement – 96%
  27. Prosperity Party – 78%
  28. Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party – 39%
  29. Oromo Liberation Front – 47%
  30. Sidama Hadcho People’s Democratic Organization –
    71%
  31. Amhara Democratic Forces Movement – 45%
  32. Gambella People’s Liberation Democratic Movement
    – 93%
  33. Mother Party -47%
  34. Balderas for True Democracy – 64%
  35. Boro Democratic Party (already registered under
    the new proclamation)
  36. Arena Tigray for Sovereignty for Democracy
    (Completed the signature criteria before inspection)
  37. Argoba National Democratic Movement (Minority
    Party)
  38. Argoba People’s Democratic Organization
    (Minority Party)
  39. Donga People’s Democratic Organization (Minority
    Party)
  40. Federal Democratic Forum (not required to
    provide signature being a front)

Parties whose inspection process has been completed but technical requirements remain to be completed include:

  1. Renaissance Party
  2. Salsai Woyane Tigray
  3. Kafa People’s Democratic Union
  4. Raya Rayuma Democratic Party
  5. Sidama Unity Party
  6. Asimba Democratic Party
  7. National Congress of Great Tigray (Baytona)

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