NEBE May Extend Deadline for Voters’ Registration Period

ADDIS ABABA – National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) may decide to extend the deadline of voters’ Registration period, its boss said on Thursday.

The ongoing voters’ registration, which began on March 25, is expected to end tomorrow, April 23. 2021.

So far, an underwhelming number of voters has been registered during the period which has been hit by security and logistics challenges, according to Election officials.

The board has managed to register 80 percent of the electorate in Sidama and Oromia regions as well as Addis Ababa city and Dire Dawa administrations. The performance in the remaining regions, however, is 50 percent and below.

The situation could compel the board to extend voters’ registration the deadline, said Birtukan Mideksa, chairperson of the Board, according to a state-run Ethiopian news agency.

The board will discuss for how long the period should be extended and announce its decision soon, said Birtukan during a meeting Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed convened on Thursday.

Today’s meeting was a follow-up of high-level discussion held last week to resolve election challenges after NEBE said only 25,151 election stations were operational out of 50,000 in the country.

‘Most Polling stations can open’

Despite significant improvement in the past week, NEBE reported that many polling stations were still pending.

The PM office said regional governors expressed their commitment to continue “ensuring requisite support to expedite the setting up of stations” during the meeting.

They also explored security preparedness among all regions “in ensuring that the electoral process is peaceful and unhindered by agents of instability”.

With the exception of a few hotspots, many polling stations in the country are ready to peacefully undertake elections, according to the national electoral security committee’s assessment presented at the meeting,

‘Consequential election’

During Thursday’s meeting, Prime Minister Abiy reiterated to Regional Presidents to scale up the momentum over the next week in enabling the full functionality of pending polling stations.

The NEBE is planning to hold the sixth general elections on June 5, 2021.

The PM called the upcoming elections consequential in Ethiopia’s democratization process.

“The current elections are consequential in transitioning Ethiopia and hence collectively dispensing our citizen duties is essential,” the PM said, while urging for the public to “register to vote today!”