Ethiopia Responds to Concerns expressed over 2021 Elections

ADDIS ABABA – The Government of Ethiopia said it appreciates the interest the country’s long-standing international partners have shown in the electoral process of the 6th national elections in Ethiopia.

The government “appreciates the acknowledgment of the integrity of NEBE (National Electoral Board of Ethiopia), the active involvement of civil society, and the massive turnout of voters,” its foreign ministry said in a statement issued on Friday.

The government said it also took note of the importance of conducting honest reflection on the successes, challenges, and shortcomings of the 6th general elections to have improved future elections.

In this regard, the ministry said the government found it necessary to set the record straight on the claims made by some of our partners since they failed to show the undistorted reality of the electoral process.

Ethiopia’s foreign ministry also said the new political administration has shown its commitment to expand the political environment by releasing political prisoners and allowing dissidents to participate in the political life of their country.

“The attempt to attach the detention of some opposition leaders with the electoral process is misleading and undue interference with the judicial process,” the ministry said, adding the government “has not imprisoned anyone for freely expressing their political views”.

The claim of the harassment of media representatives is typical of the gross misrepresentations of the electoral process, it added.

The government expressed its belief that “one of the visible and uncontested fruits of the new political administration is the expansion of the media landscape ranging from the traditional outlets to the proliferating social media platforms”.

It also said one of the complaints of public media outlets was that some competing political parties failed to utilize the free media campaigning time allotted to them by the NEBE.

Building a democratic system is not a one-time engagement in elections but a process, according to the statement.

“The Government of Ethiopia believes that the 6th general elections are significant strides in this regard,” it said, adding the June 21 Elections “was the first time people chose their representatives without undue pressures employing opportunities created by the multifaceted legal and institutional reforms that the government has been taking to make the electoral process fair and transparent”.

The election is different from previously held elections, at least in having an Election Board that independently decides to postpone elections in some areas for upcoming September due to security reasons, according to the Ministry.

This would furnish the inhabitants and Internally displaced Persons (IDPs) an opportunity to hold the election in a peaceful environment when the time arrives, the government said.

The statement also claims that the Electoral board has also effectively dealt with the logistics problems giving no room to compromise the electoral process.

The government of Ethiopia “believes that in the 6th general elections, Ethiopians have not only elected their representatives but showed their unwavering commitment for peace, the protection of their country’s sovereignty, and their right to decide on the future of their country”, the ministry said.

“We expect our partners to respect that decision and understand that the people of Ethiopia are the sole owners and guardians of democracy in this country,” the statement concludes.