ADDIS ABEBA- United States government has announced on Friday a 30.4 million US dollar support to the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) that is currently busy with peroration for parliamentary elections set to be held on August, 29. 2020.
Ethiopia has had regular parliamentary elections since the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took power in 1991 but, with one exception, none were competitive.
The US aid agency or USAID said the latest support will be used to strengthen the capacity the electoral body’s officials to conduct a fair and free election.
Its officials said the fund intends to promote more meaningful participation of all citizens in the political process, with a focus on making it more inclusive for people traditionally marginalized groups.
NEBE’s Chairperson Birtukan Mideksa and USAID Ethiopia mission director Sean Jones have made the finance deal public on Friday.
USAID Mission Director Jones said the fund is part of the U.S.’s effort to develop long term strategy to make Ethiopia’s path towards democratic society inclusive.
“If you are wondering why the United States is doing this, the answer is quite simple. Elections and the election process are the true lifeblood of any democracy, where all citizens can express the aspirations and the goals for themselves, and their community,” said the mission director.
Birtukan commended the support as ”historic’’ to the Ethiopians who are hoping to see a meaningful electoral process for the first time the country’s history.
She said that the previous election outcomes have created mistrust in the minds of the public.
The current undertakings by the NEBE, therefore, would be critical and historical in bringing the public’s confidence back in the election process, she added.
The government has already budgeted over 2.4 billion birr or over 72 million US dollars to carry out the election.
The board chairperson said the amount has shown a seven-fold increase from the budget allocated from previous national election.
However, Birtukan said the government’s budget could not be enough to “hold a very credible and fair election in a way that is different from the others”.
By Sisay Sahlu