By By Ezana Minas
Election-monitoring groups are used for publicizing and deterring fraud, for helping to “hold together shaky electoral processes in transitional countries,” and for “strengthening . . . basic standards of election administration.” However, there are obvious problems of the presence of many amateurs or politically lobbied groups who go to the field just because they are from developed countries or freelance visitors who go to see what goes on and make some money with an excessive focus on polling day, and the frequently superficial judgments of “free and fair election.” Election observers often fail to be impartial. They are not selected like jury members. They are interested in politics and have a rough and unpolished political outlook about African Countries by far if not all. Or they belong to one or other grouping of political lobbying. Election observations have “continue to be an important part of international politics the last few years with the UN Electoral Bureau of DP having a roster and retired individuals who are highly opinionated and have gone as observers to many developing countries. I remember one time President Obasanjo saying what happened in Florida with the BUSH and Al GORE required sending electoral observers from Africa. So the field needs to push itself toward more professional standards, and for now the EU observers not going to Ethiopia is good riddance. Of course, this is an orchestrated move to add pressure on the Ethiopian Government on the “negotiation” style they want followed or else.
With the future viability of election observation progressively in trouble, no exception and surprise with EU pull out from Ethiopian election, it is time to look into a better, more effective observation capacity that understand the dynamics of African politics and the internal nature of politics as opposed to naïve way of looking at the dynamics of African politics from the point of view of stopping refugees and terrorists marching to Europe. Today election monitoring is widely practiced by organizations all over the world. However, progressively many African countries are also deciding to have their own election without the political interference of God fathers Nation, observers, who think and act in their interest. We have seen the endorsements of elections in many countries such as Afghanistan, Egypt and or making close economic and investment as well as political deals with those who do not have rudimentary democratic ideas like Monarchs who never hold elections.
Given this broadening content of the field and the history of observations and observers, it is time to undertake a more systematic analysis of the activities of international election monitors. We must analyze the effects of international election observation and determine whether monitoring boosts voter confidence, improves election logistics, deters fraud, alleviates violence, and spreads international electoral norms. In addition, avoid using elections to put puppet governments or at least governments that are not ideologically and religious wise antagonistic. At the same time, we must also focus on concerns about adherence to professional standards, as different electoral observer organizations continue to issue puzzlingly contradictory statements or to give outright endorsements to elections that do not represent the public and national interests of the people but geopolitical calculations.
If monitors are guided by factors other than the quality of an election, they could inadvertently legitimize undemocratic regimes, enable governments to spin the results, or even stifle viable opposition movements which they have in many places. Presumably none of these should be the goal of international observers. My intent is not to render a simplistic critique of these monitors—indeed, controversial assessments of sometimes be warranted on moral or other grounds—but rather to identify and discuss prevailing patterns so that we ask ourselves why the EU is so gung Ho in all directions against the Ethiopian government. Are they on a destabilization mission? An in-depth description of the data is available on election observation and observers in many research centers. Examining them will help many developing countries. A close examination is required on most of the major organizations that issue public reports.
There are good examples actually from many experiences in developing countries—in particular, Kenya’s 1992 and 1997 elections, Cambodia’s 1998 elections, Russia’s 1999 elections, and Zimbabwe’s 2000 elections and Ethiopia 1985 (EC) election. In most cases where outside monitors observe elections, more than one organization will send an observer mission. Yet different monitoring organizations do not always reach the same conclusions about a given election, as a few brief examples illustrate. Cambodia’s 1998 elections exemplify a situation in which different monitoring organizations disagree. The months leading up to the balloting in Cambodia that year were marked by terrible violence. Moreover, a last-minute rule change aided the incumbent’s victory, rendering the outcome highly questionable. A joint memorandum by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) called the preselection environment “fundamentally flawed.” Although the co chair of the NDI-IRI delegation, former congressman Stephen Solarz, publicly wondered whether the election might one day be seen as the “miracle on the Mekong,” the NDI issued a detailed report that was, in fact, highly critical.
The IRI’s final report declared that the election “did not meet the standards of democratic elections” and noted that “the final vote count and post-election period were deliberately incomplete as the NEC [National Election Commission] and Constitutional Council dismissed complaints of vote fraud and irregularities without full and proper legal considerations.
In contrast, the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU), cooperating under the auspices of a Joint International Observer Group (JIOG), endorsed the elections even before the counting was complete, 160 Journal of Democracy stating, “In general the polling achieved democratic standards . . . [W]hat could be observed by us on Polling Day and Counting Day was a process which was free and fair to an extent that enabled it to reflect, in a credible way, the will of the Cambodian people.”
Yet after monitors left the country, violence erupted anew, and there was an attempted assassination of the victorious incumbent.
By the way people have to differentiate the difference between UNDP that provides election materials, training and logistical support and Electoral Assistance Office of UN Department of political Affairs whose major objective is politicking and dancing with the major Donors. The UN and EU marriage is usually EU DPA marriage which is mostly political and heavily oriented to Donor countries.
Russia’s 1999 elections tell a different tale—one of monitoring organizations contradicting not each other, but themselves. According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), voting day went well. The OSCE’s final report, however, documented major problems and was riddled with contradictions. For example, the executive summary concluded that the electoral laws “provided a sound basis for the conduct of orderly, pluralistic and accountable elections,” but the body of the report pointed to a “major flaw in the legislation” and criticized it in numerous ways. Whereas the executive summary said that the elections reflected a “political environment in which voters had a broad spectrum of political forces from which to choose,” the report itself documented abuses of government resources and authority and media biases, as well as harsh restrictions placed on the media.
The European Parliament’s final report was similarly contradictory. It stressed the complete lack of party competition, but ended by weakly noting that “conclusions are always hard to draw after such experiences because, in Russia, the election process was legal and constitutional yet one comes away with a sense that there is still some way to go before the election process as a whole becomes comparable with EU systems.”
All in all the record of EU electoral observation is not that thrilling and if they do not go to Ethiopia, unless they dictate their record is not that exciting. Go back and see Ana Gomez”s report and look at your action on Ethiopia. Where were you when Egypt overthrew a legitimately elected Islamic government by Generals and rearranged elections to elect a General. The major concern was Egyptian threat of flood of refugees to Europe. So much for principle that must apply to Ethiopia. The EU Ambassador in Ethiopia has an obsessive hate toward the current Ethiopian leader and that is manifested in so many closed meetings among Donors. He takes his cue from Broking institute hard liners like Jeffery Faltmen who is just appointed as special envoy on the Horn. Already in his discussion at the Brooking Institute his strong motto was to put all kinds of pressure on Ethiopia. And use different venues to put pressure. Pressure to what end? No intelligent analysis, no background depth but simple bureaucratic logic on how to put pressure? No updated assessment and in-depth understanding of Ethiopia or the Horn or Africa. The Horn and its people are totally different from the Middle East, Israel and Lebanon. Need to be open minded, read and understand before using a metric system you set to use. Eric Haggai of Israel might help.
Electoral Observation has become an industry and politically and strategically connected to powerful nations. Few examples: Intergovernmental Organizations • Carter Center • National Democratic Institute • International Republican Institute • International Foundation for Electoral Systems • Norwegian Helsinki Committee • International Human Rights Law Group • Asian Network for Free Elections, • United Nations Electoral Assistance Office • Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe • Council of Europe • Commission of the European Union • European Parliament • Organization of American States • Commonwealth Secretariat Parliamentary Forum • Commonwealth of Independent States • La Francophonie
In many elections monitored by these multiple observer missions, the disagreements were stark: One organization endorsing the election while another clearly denouncing it. In addition, there are cases where the monitors agreed, but other commentators raised serious questions. For example, both the OSCE and the UN generally accepted Bosnia’s 1996 election, while others called it fraudulent. The International Crisis Group asserted that nationalist parties manipulated the elections, which were also marred by fraud, and it accused the OSCE of spinning the results.
Discrepancies among their assessments have been consequential. What Influences Election Assessments? Need for Democratization? Fulfilling people’s will? Economic prosperity? Peace and security? Geopolitics and major power interest? Local politics?
The election in Ethiopia is for Peaceful Transition to Democracy, Security, equality of all Ethiopians, and fair share of the economic pie. Detractors have to be fought stubbornly.
Editor’s note : this article by Ezana Minas appeared first on P2P forum on May 4, 2021
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