Ethiopian Parliament Approves Revised Electoral Law
By Staff Reporter
August 24, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- The House of People Representatives on Saturday approved the revised political party registration and code of ethics proclamation.
The outcome of the ongoing reform led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the revised version was enacted during an extraordinary session of the parliament.
One of the amendments made was concerning the required number of signatures to form a political party, both regional and nationwide. Thus, the minimum number of signatures required to form a nationwide party has grown to 10,000, up from 3,000. Similarly, the Electoral Board will endorse a given applicant’s request to form a regional party only if the applicant has submitted a minimum of 4,000 signatures.
This has been one of the contentious issues raised during complaints filed by competing political parties. The complainants said that 10,000 signatures are too much and difficult for them to secure. Also, a good number of parties lodged complaints against the minimum requirement to form a regional party.
The parties filed complaints on a total of 35 articles and 59 sub-articles of the amended version. However, the Justice, Democracy & Legal Affairs Standing Committee of the Parliament retained the requirements to form a political party. The Committee argued that in a nation of 110 million, any political party claiming to be nationwide must at least secure 10,000 signatures. Otherwise, it could hardly be called representative.
Yeshimebet Kassa, Chair of the Standing Committee said that, the revised version, which has just been voted into law, is applicable to political parties, even to those that are legally recognized before the new law. This, she said, is in the best interest of creating equitable platform for all contestant parties. If those political parties fail to meet the criteria, they could face cancellation of their license, she added.
Meanwhile, the amended version clearly stipulates that using government resource for party purposes is a major violation, listing serious measures to be taken on any party found to have contravened the law.
The political parties claimed that the new electoral law should not be applicable to those parties which were formed before the new proclamation. However, Yeshimebet said the proclamation applies to all competing parties and requires them to secure the stated number of signatures to run in the next election.
The proclamation states that the revised electoral law will help Ethiopia to conduct peaceful, fair, reliable and democratic elections. It is expected to help strong political parties to emerge in the country, rather than the hundreds of fractured (and usually along ethnic lines) parties the country has right now.