By Staff Reporter
July 24, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has introduced a new electoral law requring national political parties to have at least 10,000 registerd members to be eligible for the upcoming national elections planned to be held in May next year.
Article 33 of the new electoral draft law, which was tabled for discussion at the national parliament on Wednesday, also stipulates that, except for ministers and government appointees, public servants running for parliamentary seats will be denied monthly salaries and benefits during the election process.
The draft law faced strong resistance from representatives of poltical parties who claimed the law is designed to make government employees out of the election process and requested for amendments or cancilation of those articles.
They said “although the articles are designed to encourage the formation of stronger political parties, they will also limit political participation and freedom of expression for many.”
According to the new law, regional parties will be required to have at least 4000 members, up from the current 750, and those parties running for national elections will be required to have at least 10,000 members.
Birtukan Midekissa, Chair of the Election Board said the articles were intended to separate government's responsibilities with that of reponsibilities of political parties; assure fair election process and ensure neutrality of the civil servants over the election.
Regarding the requirements for national and regional political parties, she said the move aimed at creating a strong and competitive political parties.
The new electoral law states that political parties must cover salaries of public servant candidates during election time.
The board said it will consider modifying the article during vote counting time after it faced strong opposition from parliament.
The law also notes that the board can suspend or postpone election at any constituency in case of security problems.
The new electoral law is expected to be approved at the extraordinary session of the national parliament before recession next month.
Prime Minister Abiy's government decided to conduct the national election in May next year eventhough leaders of different political parties have been calling for the postponement of the elections.
According to the Ethiopian constitution, the existing government will not be eligible to rule the country in the event it fails to conduct the next elections as per the schedule.