Board Wants More Fund, Time to Conduct National Elections

ADDIS ABABA – National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) says it needs up to 13 months to carry out the sixth rounds of national elections in Ethiopia.

The Horn of Africa country in March postponed parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for August due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A new date is yet to be set with the parliament tasking the constitutional inquiry council to propose one based on the country’s constitution.

After hearing several legal and other experts, the council has heard the view of the NEBE as well as the Ministry of Health in its final round of amicus curiae briefing on Thursday.

The Deputy Chair of NEBE Wubshet Ayele has proposed two possible scenarios to hold the poll.
The first scenario, according to Wubshet, could be held without the requirement of further procedural amendments.

But it needs up to ten months for preparation. These include 60 days for general preoperational activities, 76 days to secure budget for educating the public and 102 days for the election campaign by competing parties.

This scenario will incur an additional 40mln US dollars in addition to the board’s initial budget, the deputy chairperson said. The scenario also requires extra caution to reduce the risk for the virus, he added.

The second scenario takes the impact of the pandemic when conducting the election.

Preparation in this scenario will require the involvement of offices and experts who are seldom key when conducting elections, according to the board.

These, according to Wubeshet, are health ministry, health bureaus, health experts and international agencies such as World Health Organizations.

The board says, in this context, it needs a 13-month period to conduct and finalize the election without restrictions and state of emergency.

It is proposed in tandem with the need for an extended period for voters’ registrations, voter’s education and many more activities that are key to conduct the poll.

In this scenario, the board would have to prepare 10, 000 more voting centers in addition to the initial plan of 20,000 to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.

According to Wubshet, an extension of time will cost the country an extra 73 million US dollars and need the deployment of more election conductors and health professionals – from initial 180,000 personnel to 420,000.

But, said Wubshet, both circumstances could be subjected to improvement through discussion with concerned bodies.

Council of Constitutional inquiry has finalized the three rounds of legal experts hearing on the constitutional interpretation on Thursday.

By Sisay Sahlu

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