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Ethiopians will vote in conflict and indifference to election news

After some consideration, Shimelis Yohannes* decided to postpone voting in Ethiopia general election It is scheduled to be held on Monday.

“I took a vote because it is better than not participating in the election,” said a civil servant in the capital Addis Ababa. However, he quickly added that he had no illusions about voting overshadowed by the conflict in the northern part of Tigray, the instability and general indifference elsewhere.

“I don’t think my vote will change anything or determine the future direction of Ethiopia, but at least I can tell myself that I have tried my best,” said Yohanes, who will support the opposition party.

Of the 38 million people living in the city of Sashmene, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) southeast of Addis Ababa, 38 million registered to vote, but he said he would abstain.

The private sector professional said that after the two most popular Oromo political parties, the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Oromo, he is in the largest Oromia region in Ethiopia. There is no credible opposition party that can compete with Prime Minister Abi Ahmed’s Prosperity Party (PP). Federalist Congress (OFC)-Decided to boycott opinion polls. All parties claimed that the election lacked legitimacy on the grounds that it was unable to compete, while well-known leaders and party members were imprisoned and other members suffered physical violence.

Gemeqiu said: “The local People’s Party cadres have been forcing socially disadvantaged groups to take out voter registration cards and now threaten them to be punished if they vote for the minority candidates of other opposition parties.”

The staff of the National Election Commission explained to people how to vote for the upcoming elections [Amanuel Sileshi/AFP]

Young people from Oromos, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, account for 35% of the country’s estimated 110 million people. They are at the forefront of two and a half years of anti-government protests that brought Abi to power in April 2018.

However, Abi later fell out with many leaders of the Oromo Youth Movement. Several major OFC members, including Jawar Mohammed and Bekele Gerba, are still being held on terror charges related to the riots that occurred after the murder of Oromo pop musician and activist Hachalu Hundessa last year.

However, the BJP insists that the elections will be free and fair-this is the first historic time in Ethiopia. Monday’s poll will be the sixth vote since the communist government of Mengistu Haile Mariam was overthrown in 1991. The first five elections-all won by the four-party coalition of the now-defunct Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front-have been compromised by allegations of fraud and irregularities.

“The ruling party is very willing to exercise democracy… the public is very eager,” said Bikila Wolde of PP. “Despite these opportunities, the challenges are also very obvious, because Ethiopia has a long-standing political system that is extremely polarized and is known for its dictatorship. Modern civilized political activities are rare in this country.”

Although the ruling party advertised the vote (which was originally scheduled for 2020, but was first postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and logistical challenges) as an opportunity to ease the temperature of the polarized political environment, some people worry that this might have the opposite effect.

An analyst from Addis Ababa, who did not want to be named, cited the tense political atmosphere as a reason for the polls to be conducted in the context of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and locust invasions, and that “the economy of the Tigray region The dilapidation and conflict “make the region totally dependent on humanitarian aid.”

It is estimated that the seven-month war in Tigray has killed thousands, even more, and displaced about 2 million people. The United Nations warned this week that 350,000 people are suffering from famine.

The analyst said: “The Ethiopian army, which was supposed to be responsible for transporting election materials, was involved in the Tigray conflict and fighting a brewing rebellion in the Oromia and Benishangur-Gumuz regions.” “I Think this is incredible, PP obtained the legitimacy of the election from the polls at this moment.”

The National Election Commission of Ethiopia (NEBE) recognized the security and logistical challenges faced by various parts of Ethiopia. Earlier this month, it revealed that nearly one-fifth of Ethiopia’s 547 voting districts will not vote.

NEBE stated that the voting for the electoral districts that did not participate next week will be held on September 6, but Tigray, which has 38 seats, is currently excluded indefinitely.

“I see only one electoral district represented in the polls; that is the urban elite and the Amhara region,” the analyst said.

Although the BJP is the frontrunner to win the majority of seats, it is expected to face severe electoral challenges in Addis Ababa and the Amhara region, Ethiopia’s second most populous region.

Some opposition figures have publicly disclosed that their condition for accepting the results is whether the votes are fair.

In 2005, the police suppressed unarmed protesters who took to the streets of Addis Ababa to condemn election violations, resulting in the deaths of nearly 200 demonstrators and 6 policemen.

Yohannes and analysts both expressed concern about possible post-election violence in these two regions considered the most competitive in elections, but Abiy predicted at the last election rally on Wednesday that the vote will be peaceful.

“The whole world is saying that we will fight, but we will show them in different ways,” Abi told supporters in the town of Jima. “I say to all Ethiopians [engaged] In the struggle for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Ethiopia,” the prime minister added, he accused “traitors” and “outsiders” of working to destroy Ethiopia in early June.

Addis Ababa police officers in riot gear participate in the parade, showing off their new uniforms [Baz Ratner/Reuters]

On Saturday, less than 48 hours before the voting began, the police in central Addis Ababa participated in a parade attended by senior government officials, allegedly to display the new uniforms of the police force.

For analysts, even if concerns about post-election violence do not become a reality, Ethiopia’s near-term future after the election will not be optimistic.

“I don’t think the election will change the deteriorating security environment, nor will it change the increasing pressure from parts of the international community,” the analyst said.

“I see the military deadlock in the Tigray area between the rebels and the Ethiopian army — supported by the troops of Eritrea and the neighboring Amhara region — is still going on, while the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, the frustrated young Oromo Continue to join the banned Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebel movement,” the analyst added.

“The scattered sanctions from Western countries (related to the Tigray War) may increase, and their impact will inevitably affect the lower economic strata of society first, and then the senior government officials.”

*Change names to protect their identity

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