Ethiopia defends integrity of elections

Ethiopia defends integrity of elections

By Addis Getachew

16 May 2015

The Ethiopian government says this month's general elections will not lack integrity due to the absence of monitors from the United States or the European Union.

"We have an observable election. Any interested international observer will come and observe," Redwan Hussein, the minister-in-charge of the Government Communication Affairs Office, told a Friday press conference.

"But when it comes to legitimacy, it [the lack of international observers] does not in any way supplant the people's right to give the election legitimacy," he added.

Ethiopia is set to hold its fifth parliamentary election on May 24, in which 58 parties will vie for 547 seats in the House of Peoples' Representatives, along with seats in the country's regional councils.

Some 36.8 million Ethiopians are registered to cast ballots in the polls.

"That tells us the public has built confidence… and [that it is] convinced that its votes actually matter," Hussein said.

"Had it not been the case like we see elsewhere; had the public developed apathy, no one would be forced to come and register to vote," he added.

On Thursday, the African Union Commission said it would send 50 observes to monitor the polls.

Redwan said there was no reason for any political party to go "rioting" because the electoral process had been streamlined.

"We had the overall assessment session the other day [with] both the ruling and opposition party, intellectuals and religious leaders and assessed the whole process before Election Day," he said.

"So the assessment is such a way that this election is by far well-handled as compared to the other elections, both in incidents that have occurred in several areas," he added.

Many opposition parties complain that Ethiopia's political landscape is narrow and uneven, citing the "intimidation" of their candidates.