NEWS: OLF SAYS ELECTORAL BOARD’S FAILURE TO ADDRESS ITS REPEATED COMPLAINTS ON GOV’T CRACKDOWN RESTRICTING ITS ABILITY TO PARTICIPATE IN ELECTIONS
BY MEDIHANE EKUBAMICHAEL @MEDIHANE
Addis Ababa, January 23, 2021 — In a letter addressed to the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), said the government’s continued blockade of its headquarters in Addis Abeba using police forces and the closure of several of its branch offices in various places is having undue pressure on the organization’s capacity to organize and participate in the coming elections. The OLF also criticized the neutrality of the Electoral Board for failing to respond to its repeated complaints on the matter for five months.
Signed by its Chairperson, Dawud Ibssa, OLF’s letter recalled the Ethiopian Electoral, Political Parties Registration and Election’s Code of Conduct Proclamation that stipulates a National Political Party registered with the Electoral Board has the right to open branch offices throughout the country and to move peacefully and freely; and the Electoral Board Establishment Proclamation which stated that the National Electoral Board has a responsibility to register, monitor and control in accordance with the law, and to facilitate and ensure the free and fair participation of parties in regular elections, while the Board is also entrusted to examine complaints filed by political parties and make an immediate decision.
However, the OLF says it has not been able to get such solutions from the Electoral Board despite its repeated complaints on several occasions regarding widespread violations of the fundamental rights of political parties by government security forces. The letter mentioned an example of the closure of its branch offices by security forces in many places, and the seizure of its headquarters by members of Addis Abeba Police as of August 1, 2020.
The party complains that its headquarter was illegally occupied by members of the city police and most of the organization’s officials, including its chairman Dawud Ibssa, continued to be barred by the city police from accessing the office. This is, according to the letter, hampering the party’s ability to move freely, open offices, organize its grassroots base, and recruit candidates in order to participate in the coming election.
Such violation of the rights of political parties by the government and the continued inaction of the Electoral Board to resolve them is undemocratic act which will hinder the prospects of peaceful process of building multi-party democratic system, the party said, and added both the governing party and the Electoral Board were responsible for it.
OLF also complained that NEBE’s unwillingness to resolve its complains for the past five months was leading it to question the Board’s neutrality and its execution capacity.
The letter urged NEBE to facilitate withdrawal of security forces from its headquarters and ensure the party’s right to freely operate in the election which is a mere four months away. AS