Ethiopia: EU cancels deployment of election observation mission

Ethiopians queue for  elections at the Bole Subcity polling station in Addis Ababa on May 24, 2015 EPA/Solan Kolli 

The European Union has cancelled its observation of Ethiopia’s parliamentary elections.

The polls, which were scheduled for August 2020 were postponed due to Covid-19 and are now set for June.

Ethiopia’s National Electoral Board said the calendar for polls did not include an election in Tigray. The date for a Tigray vote would be set once an interim government, which was established during the conflict, opened election offices.

However, EU High Representative Josep Borrell in a statement on Monday cancelled the bloc’s election observation mission, saying they did not agree on a deal with Ethiopian authorities.

“Despite all efforts by the European Union, it was not possible to reach an agreement with Ethiopian authorities on key parameters for the deployment of an EU Electoral Observation Mission in view of the parliamentary elections on 5 June 2021. As conditions are not fulfilled, the deployment of the mission has to be cancelled,” Borrell said in the statement.

Noting that the integrity of an electoral observation mission is a cornerstone of the EUs support for democracy, he regretted that the European bloc regrets the refusal of the fulfilment of standard requirements for the deployment of any Electoral Observation Mission.

The requirements are the independence of the mission and the import of mission communication systems, which Borrell said are key for the security of EU observers, in particular in the context of a challenging security environment. This situation also impacts election preparations, including voter registration, he said.

He, however, said the EU encourages the Ethiopian authorities to increase efforts to guarantee all voters can exercise their legitimate political and civil rights.

“The EU recalls that to further this goal and to ensure credible, inclusive and transparent elections, the EU has supported the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) in the preparation of these elections with more than €20 million,” the statement said.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party, which he formed a year ago, faces challenges from influential ethnic-based parties seeking more power for their federal regions.

US President Biden sends Senate envoy to Ethiopia in bid to end Tigray atrocities

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