By Staff Reporter
September 4, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- No one is meddling with with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), says board chair Birtukan Mideksa. Neither the government nor any party is meddling with the NEBE which she is in charge of, she stressed.
Briefing journalists on Wednesday, Chairperson Birtukan Mideksa said “the board is working independently and I have not seen any interference from the government or any party over the issue of the board which I am in charge to lead.”
“We are operating within the powers and responsibilities bestowed to the board which is to strive to conduct free and fair elections. We are working to ensure the political power of the country falls on the hands of the public,” Birtukan said.
Chairperson Birtunak Mideksa is responding to public fear that the elections will be rigged in favor of those in power, as has been the case for the last three decades.
Previous national elections held under the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) ended up with the ruling party winning large majorities in parliament, the last one 100 percent.
NEBE Chair, Birtukan Mideksa, was herself the victim of election shenanigans that finally forced her to go into exile.
In 2005, a strong showing by the opposition was nullified by the government, sending many opposition leaders, including Berhanu Nega, to prisons.
The chairperson claimed that the next election will never be the same as the previous ones. If any party believes the same kind of elections will be held as before, its view must be distorted, she said.
“Had we been planning to repeat the same election conduct, it might not have been necessary for us to reorganize the board. To our understanding, previous elections never received public acceptance, nor guaranteed the neutrality of the election board,” Birtukan added.
According to the chairperson, the board is working hard to reverse the country’s election trend and put the board at its right place.
“We are working to hold elections that citizens accept and votes are truly counted. That is why we changed the law and appointed new officials to the board. Restructuring the lower levels of the board will continue,” she said. “We never expect all competing parties to accept the results of elections. We have seen that some political parties do not have a firm stand on many issues,” Birtukan added.
She said the board will register eligible voters in the presence of representatives from the media, political parties and international organizations. “We will be receiving information from different offices on the population size of a certain community to help us arrange polling stations and deploy election executives.”
About 250,000 elections executives are expected to be deployed in the next elections and polling stations will be readily available at nearby places for displaced people.
According to the chairperson, having no data of population size on certain constituencies will not affect the outcome of the upcoming elections, she argued.
Commenting on the new election law passed recently, Birtukan said the necessary consultations were conducted with competing political parties on the revised Electoral and Political Parties law before the new law was endorsed by the Ethiopian parliament. The accusation made by some parties claiming that they were not consulted and they hadn’t participated in discussions was lie, she added.
Regarding the referendum for statehood being held in Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region, the chairperson said that any person who is above 18 years old and lived in Sidama zone for the last six months will be eligible to vote for or against the referendum, which is planned to take place on November 13, 2019.
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