Disappointment Accompanies Registration of Election Candidates

As the registration of candidates who will run for the upcoming election has already reached its deadline, controversy is circulating among political parties who are dissatisfied with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) over the number of candidates registered. The number of candidates who are expected to be approved by the Board is not yet clear though political parties are disclosing the number of their own respective candidates.

For instance, Semayawi (Blue) party has already accused the Board of denying some of its members registration. The party has posted on Facebook that the Board has revoked 200 of its candidates. Moreover, out of eight opposition political parties who are working in collaboration with Semayawi, NEBE has repeatedly accusing their association and particularly, Omo People Democratic Union Party (OPDUP), one of the members of the association, whose candidates were banned from registration.

The members of Omo, who were 24 in number, would have been registered using Semayawi’s candidature symbol or representing Blue party after an agreement reached between the two parties. However, a letter sent by the Board, signed by Wondimu Golla, on February 13, 2015; one day after the deadline for registration had passed, describes the act by the two parties as unlawful and states that it should be stopped.

Out of the 24 members, 16 were already registered and they were waiting for the remaining, said Girma Bekele, president of OPDUP. According to a copy of a letter, which was sent by Omo to the Board and sent to Fortune via email, the party had sent a letter to the Board regarding the remaining candidates on February 7, 2015, but Wondimu Golla, Services and Relations Sector Assistant Head of NEBE, disagreed with this fact saying his office has received the letter on the final day of registration- February 12, 2015.

The party has taken its own candidature symbol with the intention of running by itself and what they tried to do now is illegal, Wondimu told Fortune. But he did not specifically mention which law or article the party violated. Omo is a regional party but the fact that its president Girma has registered to run for parliamentary seat in Addis Abeba is unacceptable. In line with this, Wondimu also criticized the collaboration among Blue party and the remaining eight parties as unlawful and he put it as a major factor that these parties are denied the right to have their members registered.

If these parties would like to run together, they have three options either to come as a coalition, front or unity. Associations aside from these are illegal and have no recognition by the Board, noted Wondimu.

But Girma argued that they did nothing wrong in terms of violating any law and because “the fact that we took the candidature symbol does not guarantee that we are going to run in the upcoming election. Since we found that it is strategically important to collaborate with Blue party, we decided to run as representatives of Semayawi.”

The Revised Political Parties Registration Proclamation 573/2010, article 32 – 35 clearly affirms the above three ways of association. But the proclamation in any of its article never mentions any kind of associations among or between political parties as illegal.

As far as the registration of candidates is concerned, and based on data obtained from the Board, 2,222 candidates have been registered to run for the seat of the House of Peoples Representative (HPR) and 4,168 for the regional council’s seat from 57 political parties and 11 private candidates.

From this, the ruling party, EPRDF, has managed to present 501 for parliament and 1,347 for regional council candidates for registration. On other hand, Forum for Democratic Dialogue, a.k.a. Medrek, claims to present the largest number of candidates from opposition political parties with 300 and 700 candidates for parliament and regional council, respectively. However, according to NEBE, the party lists of registration of candidates stands at 262 for HPR & 619 for regional council, as of February 13, 2015, Demissew Benti, head of public relation office at the Board, told Fortune.

“This data is what we received via phone conversation from our representatives and the numbers may vary after a final assessment is made on the eligibility of candidates, and probably decrease,” said Demissew.

First, each party registers its candidates on the form called Kits 3 (Form 3), then an assessment will be conducted on the eligibility of each candidate following which they will be registered on the final list, Kits 4, which will be announced next week, said Demissew.

Semayawi has also reported a data contrary to the one by the Board. The party has managed to list 400 and 598 candidates each for HPR and regional council. Following the split of UDJ party and the Board’s decision to ban a group led by Belay Fikadu, Semayawi claims members of UDJ had joined its party.

In Addis Abeba alone, the party has managed to have candidates who were formerly members of UDJ to run for the upcoming election representing Semayawi, said Yonatan Tesfaye, head of public relations office of blue party.

What the party has said is incorrect as the Board had initially registered, 177 and 244 candidates for the Blue party, noted Demissew.

Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) has also complained that the data given by the Board is incorrect. Adding to this, the party claims that the dates given by the Board for registering candidates were not enough.

Due to this limitation, our party has only managed to have its candidates registered in all regional states with the exception of Somali and Gambella regional state, said Chane Kebede (PhD), president of EDP. If we were given one additional week, we would have candidates on the aforementioned regional states. The party claims to have 305 for HPR and 350 candidates registered.

Sharing the same view with EDP on the given days for registration is Unity for Democracy & Justice (UDJ) of Tigstu Awolu, which claims that the days of the registration were not enough.

“Our party was busy dealing with internal problems so we were somehow affected by the amount of days given by the Board,” Tigstu told Fortune.

The party has registered 250 of its members for candidacy for both the HPR and regional councils, added Tigstu.

As the political hub of the country, in Addis Abeba alone 328 candidates have been registered so far, through out its 25 polling stations; this is beyond the required amount of candidates. As per the directive on the registration of Candidates number 1/2009, article 18, the number of candidates running for election to the HPR in a constituency shall not exceed 12. So according to this Addis Abeba shall only have 276 candidates for HPR.

Based on the same directive, procedures would be followed to select the candidates. So within 18 stations where more than 12 candidates have been registered, first and foremost if more than 12 candidates from political parties have been registered, private candidates would be terminated from the process, second out of political party’s candidates six of them that received the highest votes in the previous election shall be given the first priority. The remaining political organizations shall be determined by lot.

Semayawi Party, which was founded in 2012 and had no prior experience in national election, will be forced to see its fate determined by lots.

During the initial stage of the pre-election process it was announced that 60 political parties are known to participate for the upcoming election. But according to Demissew, three political parties have now left the process; these are Afar Liberation Front (ALF), OPDU and Ethiopian National Unity Party (ENUP).

As of February 20, 2015, and according NEBE’S statistics, 34 million electorate have so far been registered.

As the registration of candidates who will run for the upcoming election has already reached its deadline, controversy is circulating among political parties who are dissatisfied with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) over the number of candidates registered. The number of candidates who are expected to be approved by the Board is not yet clear though political parties are disclosing the number of their own respective candidates.

For instance, Semayawi (Blue) party has already accused the Board of denying some of its members registration. The party has posted on Facebook that the Board has revoked 200 of its candidates. Moreover, out of eight opposition political parties who are working in collaboration with Semayawi, NEBE has repeatedly accusing their association and particularly, Omo People Democratic Union Party (OPDUP), one of the members of the association, whose candidates were banned from registration.

The members of Omo, who were 24 in number, would have been registered using Semayawi’s candidature symbol or representing Blue party after an agreement reached between the two parties. However, a letter sent by the Board, signed by Wondimu Golla, on February 13, 2015; one day after the deadline for registration had passed, describes the act by the two parties as unlawful and states that it should be stopped.

Out of the 24 members, 16 were already registered and they were waiting for the remaining, said Girma Bekele, president of OPDUP. According to a copy of a letter, which was sent by Omo to the Board and sent to Fortune via email, the party had sent a letter to the Board regarding the remaining candidates on February 7, 2015, but Wondimu Golla, Services and Relations Sector Assistant Head of NEBE, disagreed with this fact saying his office has received the letter on the final day of registration- February 12, 2015.

The party has taken its own candidature symbol with the intention of running by itself and what they tried to do now is illegal, Wondimu told Fortune. But he did not specifically mention which law or article the party violated. Omo is a regional party but the fact that its president Girma has registered to run for parliamentary seat in Addis Abeba is unacceptable. In line with this, Wondimu also criticized the collaboration among Blue party and the remaining eight parties as unlawful and he put it as a major factor that these parties are denied the right to have their members registered.

If these parties would like to run together, they have three options either to come as a coalition, front or unity. Associations aside from these are illegal and have no recognition by the Board, noted Wondimu.

But Girma argued that they did nothing wrong in terms of violating any law and because “the fact that we took the candidature symbol does not guarantee that we are going to run in the upcoming election. Since we found that it is strategically important to collaborate with Blue party, we decided to run as representatives of Semayawi.”

The Revised Political Parties Registration Proclamation 573/2010, article 32 – 35 clearly affirms the above three ways of association. But the proclamation in any of its article never mentions any kind of associations among or between political parties as illegal.

As far as the registration of candidates is concerned, and based on data obtained from the Board, 2,222 candidates have been registered to run for the seat of the House of Peoples Representative (HPR) and 4,168 for the regional council’s seat from 57 political parties and 11 private candidates.

From this, the ruling party, EPRDF, has managed to present 501 for parliament and 1,347 for regional council candidates for registration. On other hand, Forum for Democratic Dialogue, a.k.a. Medrek, claims to present the largest number of candidates from opposition political parties with 300 and 700 candidates for parliament and regional council, respectively. However, according to NEBE, the party lists of registration of candidates stands at 262 for HPR & 619 for regional council, as of February 13, 2015, Demissew Benti, head of public relation office at the Board, told Fortune.

“This data is what we received via phone conversation from our representatives and the numbers may vary after a final assessment is made on the eligibility of candidates, and probably decrease,” said Demissew.

First, each party registers its candidates on the form called Kits 3 (Form 3), then an assessment will be conducted on the eligibility of each candidate following which they will be registered on the final list, Kits 4, which will be announced next week, said Demissew.

Semayawi has also reported a data contrary to the one by the Board. The party has managed to list 400 and 598 candidates each for HPR and regional council. Following the split of UDJ party and the Board’s decision to ban a group led by Belay Fikadu, Semayawi claims members of UDJ had joined its party.

In Addis Abeba alone, the party has managed to have candidates who were formerly members of UDJ to run for the upcoming election representing Semayawi, said Yonatan Tesfaye, head of public relations office of blue party.

What the party has said is incorrect as the Board had initially registered, 177 and 244 candidates for the Blue party, noted Demissew.

Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) has also complained that the data given by the Board is incorrect. Adding to this, the party claims that the dates given by the Board for registering candidates were not enough.

Due to this limitation, our party has only managed to have its candidates registered in all regional states with the exception of Somali and Gambella regional state, said Chane Kebede (PhD), president of EDP. If we were given one additional week, we would have candidates on the aforementioned regional states. The party claims to have 305 for HPR and 350 candidates registered.

Sharing the same view with EDP on the given days for registration is Unity for Democracy & Justice (UDJ) of Tigstu Awolu, which claims that the days of the registration were not enough.

“Our party was busy dealing with internal problems so we were somehow affected by the amount of days given by the Board,” Tigstu told Fortune.

The party has registered 250 of its members for candidacy for both the HPR and regional councils, added Tigstu.

As the political hub of the country, in Addis Abeba alone 328 candidates have been registered so far, through out its 25 polling stations; this is beyond the required amount of candidates. As per the directive on the registration of Candidates number 1/2009, article 18, the number of candidates running for election to the HPR in a constituency shall not exceed 12. So according to this Addis Abeba shall only have 276 candidates for HPR.

Based on the same directive, procedures would be followed to select the candidates. So within 18 stations where more than 12 candidates have been registered, first and foremost if more than 12 candidates from political parties have been registered, private candidates would be terminated from the process, second out of political party’s candidates six of them that received the highest votes in the previous election shall be given the first priority. The remaining political organizations shall be determined by lot.

Semayawi Party, which was founded in 2012 and had no prior experience in national election, will be forced to see its fate determined by lots.

During the initial stage of the pre-election process it was announced that 60 political parties are known to participate for the upcoming election. But according to Demissew, three political parties have now left the process; these are Afar Liberation Front (ALF), OPDU and Ethiopian National Unity Party (ENUP).

As of February 20, 2015, and according NEBE’S statistics, 34 million electorate have so far been registered.

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