WILLIAM DAVISON,/ BLOOMBERG
This election will be the first major test of post-Meles Ethiopia.
The sole opposition lawmaker in parliament, Girma Seifu, and the head of the three-year-old Blue Party, Yilkal Getnet, said in interviews that they’re victims of biased judgments that will result in another landslide victory for the ruling coalition on May 24.
“This election is only ceremonial, it’s not really to win the democratic process and empower the people,” Yilkal said by phone Thursday from the capital, Addis Ababa. “The government totally closed everything.”
In 2010 elections, the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and allied parties won all but two seats in a 547-member lower chamber. The electoral environment was “heavily” tilted in favour of the coalition, according to the European Union.
In 2010 prime minister Meles Zenawi led the EPRDF to their successive controversial victory. Meles died in August 2012, and was replaced by his deputy Hailemariam Desalegn. This election will be the first major test of post-Meles Ethiopia.
Last month Yilkal lost out in a lottery to decide who could stand for a parliamentary seat which more than the maximum of 12 candidates wanted to compete for, he said. In January, the electoral board ruled that a faction of Girma’s Unity for Democracy and Justice party that he didn’t support legitimately represents the whole organisation, he said Thursday by phone from the capital.
The electoral board hasn’t given a reason why around 200 Blue Party candidates out of 400 submitted were not registered, said Yilkal. The lottery process unfairly favours parties who stood in the last election, he said.
A court appeal over the board’s decision on UDJ won’t be concluded in time for the polls, Girma said.
“They already finished registering the candidates and we are not in that process, we’re already out of that election,” he said. “The clear consequence is that there is no real election.”
The opposition complaints will be investigated, said Wondimu Golla, the deputy head of the service and relations department at the electoral board.
“We are always doing our task based on the electoral law,” he said by phone from Adama city on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, the UK aid agency redirected block grants to Ethiopia’s government into specific programmes, partly because of concerns over political rights and the impact on electoral competition.