By Sisay Sahlu
ADDIS ABEBA – Not having its members appointed on time is hampering the works of the National Election Board of Ethiopia, said its chairperson.
The board should consist of five members who are expected to be nominated by the Prime Minister and approved by the House of Peoples’ Representatives.
The prime minister is yet to present its nomination and have them approved, despite gaining approval for appointing Birtukan Mideksa as Chairperson. She replaced Samia Zakaria last November.
While presenting a nine-month performance report, Birtukan said the board is far from effective.
Currently, the organization is run only by the chairman of the board while spaces for five board members remained vacant.
Legislatures have already carried out their responsibility of approving the bill that established the National Electoral Board Ethiopia (NEBE) in February 2019, which requires the PM to nominate new members.
The delay to nominate and approve board members has created ‘’a gap in the board’s work,” Birtukan told members of parliament on Wednesday.
She requested for them to push the executive body to carry out its responsibility of readying members for approval.
The inaction of the PM office has made indecisive over its major tasks, including determining when Addis Abeba and Dire Dawa local elections to be held.
“If the board members are not assigned on time, we could not decide whether to conduct them,” said Birtukan.
She also said several referendums such as the statehood question of Sidama people are awaiting the appointment of board members.
The Prime Minister has already established an independent committee to recruit nominees, according to some media reports. They, however, did not give much information on the progress in the committee’s work.
Meanwhile, the chairman has also said the board is at the final stage of having a draft bill that will set guidelines for party registration ready for parliament approval. The board has stopped registering parties at the moment.
But once this bill is approved, it will be starting to register political parties based on the guidelines prescribed in the soon-to-be approved law, said Birtukan.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration has vowed that the May 2020 election will be free and fair.
Currently, there are over 100 political parties in the country but only 66 of them are registered.