Ethiopia holds general elections every five years; and the most recent one was held this past May, 2015. The ruling TPLF/EPRDF party, which has been in power for the past twenty four years, announced the results of the election this past Monday, June 22, 2015. In the announcement, the ruling party declared itself not just a winner but also the most victorious than ever before by taking all seats in both the federal and regional parliaments. Below is a statement issued by the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) regarding these elections and their results:
In the months and weeks leading to the elections, campaigns by the opposition parties were very intense, and the public response in support of the parties was far beyond expectations. Unfortunately, all of that was to no avail. Now looking at the end results of the elections, all that could be said is that the huge public rally behind the opposition parties instead alerted the ruling party that it prepared itself and came up with more and newer tactics to rig the elections. Heavily equipped armed forces were deployed in different areas including the surroundings of the Capital, Addis Ababa/Finfinne. As it has been the case during the previous elections, not only the opposition candidates, but also election observers and voter who were suspected of not being sympathetic to the ruling party were harassed, intimidated and threatened. There had been cases of misinforming and misguiding voters especially regarding voting times and places. Although it was announced ahead of the elections day that the voting cards were printed in excess, particularly Oromo voters in some parts of the region were told that there were no voting cards; most likely the Election Board employees and the ruling party officials themselves staffing the cards into the ballot boxes, marking them with symbols of the TPLF/EPRDF candidates. The worst of all was the stealing of the ballot boxes after they were filled with voting cards in order to give all the votes to the candidates of the ruling party, regardless of who the votes belonged to. The above mentioned incidents happened mainly in Eastern and Western Hararge, Dire Dawa, in various parts of central Shawa, in the Oromia Zone of Wallo, particularly at Wallo University, in Illu Abbabor, at Mettu University, in different parts of Wallaga, in Guji and Borana zones of the regional state of Oromia.
Accordingly, as it has been proven in the announcement made by the National Election Board, the ruling TPLF/EPRDF Party stole most of the decisive votes and, by so doing, systematically eliminated all opposition parties from the political games; leaving both the regional and federal parliaments without any alternative voices and differing political opinions. It is so worrisome that the country is once again back under a one-party monopoly of everything – political, economic, and social. All the rhetoric during the past two decades regarding the flourishing of democracy in Ethiopia have now proven to have been lies and deceptions, as the reality has become the diminishing of it.
Regardless of the unpopular results of the elections, both the Ethiopian peoples and all the opposition political parties should never feel that they lost particularly these elections and, instead, reward themselves for the best jobs that they have done – very peaceful election campaigns were conducted by the opposition parties and, in response, similar rallies and supports were shown by the general public. Both the Ethiopian peoples and the opposition parties have demonstrated and exercised cultures of genuine democracy in such a suppressive political environment where democracy did not exist. Above all, both sides have clearly shown to the world that fundamental changes are needed in that country.
While the local observers were silenced by means of various types of harassments and intimidations, foreign and international independent observers such as the European Union and various human rights agencies chose to stay away knowing that, based on experiences from the past elections, their presence makes no difference except giving legitimacy to such fake elections. This could be described as a step in the right direction, a sign of rejection and refusal. But, a lot more needs to be done in order to bring about positive political changes in Ethiopia.
Therefore, the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) calls upon the international diplomatic and human rights agencies to join hands with the democracy-thirsty Ethiopian peoples and opposition political parties in the efforts to put pressure on the ruling TPLF/EPRDF party so that it would abide by democratic principles as well as international laws and respect fundamental human rights for the flourishing of genuine democracy.