By Nathnael Abate M/ Norway
Date 27 03 2015
In most parts of our modern world democratic governments hold free, fair and regular or periodic elections to improve the administration system in their countries, thereby guaranteeing citizens the opportunity to change their leaders and to support new policies. Non democratic regimes, like a government of Ethiopia hold regular election but citizens are systematically forced in different ways to vote for them. Democratophobic government of Ethiopia holds regular and symbolic election in the name of democracy to learn new suppression techniques and to identify its supporters from non supporters. An identification of its allies along with the newly gained knowledge or technique from election will help the regime effectively to suppress critic voices and monopolize the country’s political or government power under its arms in future ruling years. Woyane of ‘Z Tigray’ regime hold periodic election not democratically to transfer government power and political authority into the hands of popularly elected or winner party but uses periodic election as instrument periodically to terrorize citizens of the country. The terrible consequences of Ethiopian elections are violations of democratic and human rights, cause of deaths for many and mass arrest. In Ethiopia elections or peaceful forms political struggles have never brought any limit to the power of ruling government, improvement in human rights situation or reform in government’s administration system. It had gone from bad to worse and from worse to worst.
The TPLF of Ethiopia symbolically holds periodic election every five years and the so-called constitution states that electoral institution to be free from any sort of government influence. However the electoral institute is not only influenced, nevertheless since its establishment it served as the survival gear of the ruling government. Article 102 of the constitution states independence of national election board to conduct in an impartial manner free and fair election in federal and state constituencies. It continues to state again that members of the board shall be appointed by the HPR upon recommendation of the prime minister. Here we can observe that the first part statement of the article clearly contradicts with the concept or notion of the second section. The first part of Article 102 tells us the election boards shall be independent and free from any form of influence. On the other hand, the second subdivision says the election boards shall be recommended by the prime minster and then later on elected by the votes of house of HPR. The prime minister is in charge of recommending his/her trusted friends or loyalists who are willing to execute whatever is ordered. The process of nomination and establishment of election board is just an appointment of the loyalists to certain position in separate suppression institute inside the circle of TPLF. The appointed officials are directly influenced by prime minster or other higher governmental bodies. This makes the country’s electoral system and process, electoral computations and vote results partial and biased. The contest and winning rooms for opposition parties are limited as well as votes are rigged by the electoral board since the election board is directly established by the Government to serve the will of government not to execute election and its process fairly. The malfunction of electoral board is an open threat to build democratic system.
In addition to the influence of National Election Board on the opposition parties and the outcome of election results, the harassment, assault, false accusation and imprisonment, severe restriction on freedom of speech, intolerance to open discussion and other negative influences of government hinders oppositionists from effective electoral computation. Oppositionists lack resources and budgets for their awareness creating campaign in nearest or most remote areas of the country. In reality power hungry TPLF doesn’t want efficacious computations of the opposition parties as result it holds back resources or finances which are allocated for the opposition political parties. Also there is campaign finance abuse by TPLF and agents, dependent electoral board and no balanced access to the media for all opposition political parties and candidates.
During the campaigns for election the importance of freedom expression is undisputable. Individuals should express their will and political opinions freely, take part in campaigning and at end elect the party that they choose and trust. In contrast, the TPLF regime has severely restricted freedom of expression and opinion, association and peaceful assembly of individuals, groups and organizations. This makes a tremendous roadblock for opposition political organizations to create awareness for public about their mission, vision and policies. Lack of open public discussion reduces the participation of citizens in their country’s socio-political affairs which in turn affects democracy building process according to an accepted international election standards and rules. In fact there exist electoral law to make the election peaceful, free, fair and democratic on the paper. But these laws are interpreted in the way they are convenient to keep the interests of TPLF. The so called Electoral Law of Ethiopia bears the following code of conduct of election and objectives. Let’s consider realities on the ground and the stated law as follow
- To promote tolerance in a democratic electoral operation; under no circumstances TPLF and its system has tolerance in electoral process or in opposition opinions. TPLF never promoted tolerance either democracy instead every single opposition voices are systematically and openly suppressed. TPLF shoulders are not able to carry any political opinion that goes against them.
- To foster free political campaigning and open public discussion; so far no opposition political groups had any free campaigning. Most opposition parties’ leaders and campaigners were humiliated attacked in Gondar, Wolayta, Oromia, in the capital Addis Ababa and many other parts of Ethiopia. No opposition political party is allowed holding open public discussion. The ruling minority junta is scared of allowing open public discussion. Also in the country where freedom of speech is severely restricted, it is impossible to hold open public discussion. Woyane knows well its fate, if open public discussion is held.
- To enable the conduct of free and fair election. On this section it says any political organization including TPLF itself or private candidate must therefore respect, publicize, educate the electors and guide its candidates, representatives and supporters to respect the code and take necessary actions to realize it. But none of the listed codes are respected by the TPLF of Z Tigray and these laws are simply written on the paper to fool or attract foreign donors and to establish symbolic opposition parties which are not allowed to go beyond the stated limit.
In general the hope of removing Woyane of Z Tigray from government power and democratically transferring political power in to the hands winner political party is impossible from palpable evidence of Ethiopia’s political situation. This cumulative reason brings us to the conclusion that the outcome of Ethiopian election is predetermined. The above listed methodical fortification, open and hidden barriers are all the techniques which TPLF use to hold back opposition political organizations from effective electoral computation before election. At the time of election processing an illegal interference of TPLF government in the process of election such as vote counting and publicizing the election result is clear in addition to electoral board frauds. Both the governments’ illegal interference and election board dishonesty makes the electoral fraud to be outlawed jointly by the government and electoral body or legislation. The electoral fraud of Ethiopia includes the fabrication of electoral results, increasing the vote share of TPLF and reducing or weighing down the vote share of opposition parties.
Shortly after symbolic TPLF election ends post election terrorization of oppositionists and non allies of government starts. Government targets defenseless non-supporters, opposition parties (leaders, members and institution) and anybody who criticizes the system. Those who are found to be anti-TPLF coalition government or being in connection with opposition political parties will suspended or sacked from their jobs, dismissed from their positions, denied access to employment or other opportunities and in most cases systematically persecuted and sentenced years of imprisonment. For instance an iconic Ethiopian politician and opposition political leader Anduale Aragie was one of the victims of post election persecution by the government. Another citation is post election crackdown of government in 2005 in capital Addis Ababa during peaceful protest of the voters. The peaceful rally was interrupted by police brutality which led to death of hundreds of innocent and arrest of 1000s including figure opposition political leaders. Election 2005 was the event that led TPLF to devise a new suppression strategy to control powerful opposition politicians, journalists and political activists. After a few years later TPLF introduced the so-called anti-terrorism law to hunt down any dissents. Anti terrorism legislation enabled TPLF to arrest famous opposition figures, journalist, human rights activists and others. These Ethiopians were persecuted and imprisoned for no crime but only for holding different political opinion and view.
TPLF regime has made evident the notion that elections alone cannot establish and bring democracy in Ethiopia. To build democratic system and establish strong democratic institution in Ethiopia it is essential to remove Woyane by armed struggle either through public disobedience and all other possible ways. Without democracy’s other essential elements such as consent of the governed, constitutional limits, the protection of human, minority and democratic rights, accountability and transparency, a multiple party system, economic freedom and the rule of law elections alone cannot guarantee the freedom and democracy. It is well known that the democratic institutions in Ethiopia are very weak and elections are easily used by violent and dictator regime to monopolize government power for life long. Therefore it is essential to create unified web like network of opposition outside and inside the country by using all available measures and techniques to bring an end to long-standing dictator regime of Ethiopia.
The writer could be reached at [email protected]
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