Ethiopia: Ensuring the road towards a democratic election is not rocky

November 28, 2018 Africa , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

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Alem Hailu G/Kristos



A just election is one of the vehicles via which democratic rights are exercised. It is a democratic process instrumental in ensuring power or government is by the direct involvement of the people, for the people and from the people. The process is conducted when two or more competing parties vie on a level political terrain bringing forth policy options. In so doing, those who stand shoulder high in the majority’s eyes enjoy a green light to representation of the government’s power. This is why an election is underlined as one of the salient manifestations of the burgeoning of democracy.


It is in cognizance of this fact, Ethiopia’s PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed this week brainstormed with leaders of competing parties on the democratic process jump started and the democratic election drawing neigh. Top of the agenda were the questions: “What facet must the upcoming election cut?” and “What precautionary measures must be taken and amendments made to the electoral law to render the election free and fair?”


Among the other issues that drew attention were taking all political parties aboard, prioritizing problems that beg for solutions, in short, medium and long term and troubleshooting challenges that surfaced in previous discussions.


Happily, all 81 leaders of the competing parties are displaying propensity for a free, fair and democratic election. This is an elephantine step forward to a country stifled by lack of a democratic order in the true sense of the word.


However, the bigger slice of the task of making the election transparent is saddled on the shoulders of the government, competing parties having their due assignments. With a cool head, it is necessary to handle possible wranglings that could flare up before the election and preempt those that could crop up afterwards. It is also wise to hammer this fact home to forestall challenges. All must be ready to stomach whatever the outcome may be in so far as the choice is made by the citizens, whom they vowed to serve selflessly. To this effect, competing parties have to reach a consensus on election law and the board’s potency to handle entrusted tasks.


Elections have been conducted in Ethiopia every five years. The snowballing of the number of political parties in the country has become a source of both optimism and anxiety. The optimism resides in the fact that citizens enjoy a go ahead to organize themselves under the umbrella of a competing party of their choice telling on a democracy due to take off, while the anxiety lies in that it is only one party that emerges with flying colors. The latter unfolding may court a psychological crisis on the rest.


Hence, as the PM recommended, to avoid scattered efforts, it is better that parties downsize their numbers making coalitions as per similar policy options or forming political fronts. It is high time they see to this.


The government has already started paving the way and taking gargantuan measures towards a peaceful and up to the standard national election in the coming year. It has appointed a new head to the National Electoral Board. Contesting parties have also been deliberating on important tasks that must be done ahead of time. This initiative of the government is laudatory.


Be this as it may, both the government and the Electoral Board are duty bound to see to it that the election turns out to be a hit. Unless the concerns of competing parties raised are addressed and a consensus is reached on raised issues, they could cast a shadow on parties’ inclination of accepting election results not in their favor. As the government became courageous to accommodate diverse outlooks it must also be diligent in seeking antidotes to challenges. Competing parties must outgrow “It is I who has the winning formula!” mentality as this bent is divorced from the principle of democracy.


Above all things, together with the government they must ensure that tranquility and the rule of law is maintained in the country.





Alem Hailu G/Kristos

A published poet, novelist, editor, translator of masterpieces, literary critic, playwright and journalist from Ethiopia. M.A holder in literature, Addis Ababa University.

Looking for a traditional publisher of a collection of poems. My novel: ‘Hope from the debris of hopelessness’.

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