EU preliminary report on the May 23 elections in Ethiopia

European Union Election Observation Mission has issued an 11-page preliminary statement on the May 23, 2010, elections in Ethiopia. (Click here for the full statement, pdf)

Executive Summary

The fourth elections to the House of People’s Representatives and State Councils have so far been held in a generally peaceful environment, as unanimously called for by all stakeholders. The relatively quiet election campaign by the opposition parties and the incumbent, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front, grew in intensity at the very last stage. The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia administered the electoral process in an efficient and competent manner, but failed to dispel opposition parties’ lack of trust in its independence.

While several positive improvements have been introduced, the electoral process fell short of certain international commitments, notably regarding the transparency of the process and the lack of a level playing field for all contesting parties.

Election Day unfolded in a peaceful manner, with a high voter turnout. Overall, the secrecy of the vote was respected despite isolated irregularities and an inconsistent application of procedures. Party agents and domestic observers were present in the majority of observed polling stations.

The general political environment in the country has been relatively calm, although the level of localised tension in numerous constituencies rose as Election Day approached. Similarly, the election campaign was essentially peaceful, if somewhat low-key and discreet until the last days of campaigning.

The separation between the ruling party and the public administration was blurred at the local level in many constituencies. The EU EOM directly observed some cases of use of state resources for ruling party campaign activities. Even taking into account the inherent advantages of the incumbency, the EU EOM considers that the playing field for the 2010 elections was not sufficiently balanced, leaning in favour of the ruling party in many areas.

The fragmentation of the main opposition forces in the aftermath of the 2005 elections, together with the departure of important opposition figures from the Ethiopian political scene, in conjunction with changes to the legal framework have resulted in a cumulative narrowing of the political space within the country.

The Ethiopian legal framework appears to provide an adequate basis for the conduct of genuine elections in line with regional and international commitments subscribed to by Ethiopia. However, the practical implementation of the laws regulating elections deviates in certain cases from the spirit of these commitments, thereby constraining the electoral process and more particularly the full, non-discriminatory enjoyment of fundamental rights.

Overall, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) administered the elections in a competent and professional manner, overcoming significant technical challenges. However, shortcomings were noted, notably in terms of the consistency and coherence of technical information received and aggregated by the electoral authority, such as complete polling station lists, which has affected the transparency of the process. Insufficient measures were taken to increase the level of trust of some opposition parties in the impartiality of the NEBE, especially at the constituency level. At the national and in most cases constituency level, the electoral authorities have been very cooperative with the EU EOM.

The voter register for the 2010 elections is relatively inclusive on the basis of NEBE projections, with around 32 million registered voters out of 37 million eligible citizens. Notwithstanding, the lack of a national voters list does not allow for the purging of multiple registrations.

The provisions for complaints and appeals related to voting, counting and tabulation have been significantly strengthened in the last five years. Nonetheless, the EU EOM considers that further measures must be implemented to ensure that they provide the opportunity for effective legal remedy on election-related complaints, in light of opposition parties’ lack of confidence in the independence and neutrality of the judiciary and the police.

The number of complaints of campaign violations, harassment and intimidation, including cases of violence, voiced both by the opposition and the ruling party rose in the last weeks. The sheer volume and consistency of these complaints is a matter of concern and has to be taken into consideration in the overall appreciation of the electoral process. The EU EOM recalls the importance for the representatives of all parties to be able to campaign in an environment free from intimidation and threats and for all dissenting views to be respected.

Generally, the media ensured a neutral coverage of the main political campaign events. The state-owned media gave the ruling party more than 50% of its total coverage on news programmes. A generous amount of free airtime was distributed proportionately to the different parties. Overall, the media were cautious in their reporting. The jamming of Voice of America Amharic Service during the last weeks of the campaign contributed to reduce the possibility for voters to receive information from a wider range of sources.

Overall, women are under-represented in the electoral authorities, although their participation among polling station staff was higher than at other levels of the NEBE. Women are also under-represented in most political parties, with the exception of the EPRDF who is fielding women candidates in line with its 30% quota. The number of women candidates as a whole has decreased compared to the 2005 elections.

(Click here for the full statement, pdf)

4 thoughts on “EU preliminary report on the May 23 elections in Ethiopia

  1. just an external observer on

    I’m happy Meles won all the seats. He is so powerful now. He does not need to pretend that the Ethiopian people matter. He is the one who counts the votes and assigns who wins and who loses.

    If the idiot Shawel, or the idiot Lidetu, or the idiot Merara, or the idiot Beyene Petros, or the idiot Gizachew Shiferaw, or the idiot Negasso Gidada thinks he can win a seat without the approval of Meles, now they now.

    I love ethiopian democracy. The people vote, the midget counts, and the midget wins.

  2. Halle_Yehulacin on


    The priliminary report is soo mild. Even though as this sends shoke to TPLF Al Amoudi and Meles will send their lobbysts with tons of dollars to shut the mouthes of those who could make decisions in international organizations They did this all the time and that is how they survived.

    Cheat Bribe and continue looting.

    We Ethiopians need to strengthen our struggle till the killer TPLF leaders are brought to justice. Fernj is fernj They dont care about us.

    A piece of advice to EU observers Tell the Truth like Anna Gomez did and be part of the struggle of the Ethiopian people for democracy and justice! That is History.

  3. MEBEA on

    The world must stop so called aid to Ethiopia. Woyane can not exist with out the foregin aid. We have to make the law makers aware of this. Diaspora need to fight persistantly.

  4. Anonymous on

    The 2nd historical error of Meles and his ruling Party

    It is shame to say that more than 93% vote victory to Meles party on a country where:
    1. The population is exhausted from economical problem. In most Ethiopian house there is no money to get food. Never the economy of common citizen has been most horrible like the current time of Meles. The inflation in Ethiopia is horrible and record braking figure.
    2. In system of governance of Meles based on ethnicity where most of Ethiopian are unwilling to be governed by solders predominately from one ethnic group that dominantly concentrated on the unilateral grow of their Tigray region and Tigrary monopoly at nationwide. It is absurd to believe that more than 90% of voters in all over the Ethiopia voted to EPRDF to rule the nation again for more five years
    3. On a Country where the opposition leaders, free press writers and free-opinion issuers are in jail or out of the country in asylum it is hard to believe Ethiopian are willing to accept EPRDF as ruling party for next five years

    For my surprise I did not expect such landslide number. I expected that they manage the vote percent on such a way they frequently do. Truelly, I expected as they take the percent of votes that permit them to dictate in the parliament (house of representative) and distribute others percent to opposition party or individuals so that the international opinion gets confused and divided to get the democratic feeling about Meles and his ruling party.

    I think God has his own reason to happen on this way. I think this is the 2nd historical error of Meles Zenawi and his ruling party. We know the 1st big historical error was the result of election 2005.

    They justify or say to international media about the “government has worked hard to improve infrastructure” to get landslide vote. This is huge error too. I belive this is few thing that they can do in comparison to the money they are getting as loan to be paid by future generation of Ethiopians. Most of the constructions and investments are owned by Meles (ruling party) ethnic group but the money loaned belongs to all Ethiopian citizens. In addition, consider the power projects and building construction project that waste huge moneys because of no-planning and unlawful character of the projects. For example it is good to see the Takaze and Gilgele Gibe hydroelectric projects. Ethiopian wish to invest more on peace among Ethiopian ethnic group, Ethiopian wish more to invest on equal opportunity of jobs, Ethiopian wish to invest more in real freedom of expression, Ethiopians wish to invest in building real democracy … look the exprience of country like Haity, chile, and others country with experience of seismic eruption. Their exprience show us buildings may be destroyed in given few mints but the healthily development of citizen is the real development and the real resource of a nation. People can be ruled by force but EPRDF can not say Ethiopians are managed democratically. In the history of humanity there were times for bad rulers, likewise we, the Ethiopians are on one of that case, which will be not forever. I have a hope on the next generation of Ethiopian managements.
    God blasé to Ethiopia,
    Teshome Alemayehu

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