HISTORIC ELECTION CONCLUDES IN ETHIOPIA
Tuesday 25th May 2010
The governing EPRDF party has won a healthy majority of the votes in Sunday’s election that attracted a 90% plus voter turnout.
The ruling party’s landslide victory was a result of its track-record, which includes double-digit economic growth over the past seven years, significant improvements in people’s livelihoods, inputs in the agricultural sector which brought much increased productivity for small-scale farmers, a large increase in social infrastructure such as schools and clinics but also in roads, telecommunications and hydro-power.
Logic dictates that the party was bound to succeed in retaining power - in democracies a government with a sound track record remains in power.
The democratic nature of the election should not be judged by the outcome but by the free, fair and transparent nature of the electoral process.
From the outset, the political forces in Ethiopia clearly stipulated the rules of engagement, while giving authority to the National Electoral Board to manage the process and signing the code of conduct which governs the activities of all contesting parties.
There is therefore no room for anyone, be it the contesting parties or the international media outlets, to re-iterate alleged irregularities and rigging of votes. The NEB is empowered to examine allegations of irregularities.
The contesting parties and the international community are now duty bound to respect the verdict given by the people of Ethiopia, the owners of the process. The principles of democracy make it abundantly clear that everybody in the country has to submit to this final verdict. The Electoral Board in its statement yesterday appealed to everyone to respect the letter and spirit of this principle.
Political pundits who wish to characterise the process with deficiencies should view the process in light of the proper historical context. One has to remember where Ethiopia was some nineteen years ago and what has been achieved in terms of democratic and economic transformation. Ignoring this historical perspective, and judging Ethiopia against the yardsticks that you find in consummated democracies, will lead to unfair and misguided conclusions.
The democratisation process in Ethiopia is a work in progress, which has reached an irreversible position and no one can deny that it is taking root gradually but firmly. The country declared from the outset that democracy and the fight against poverty are the ultimate goals of its political and economic strategy. The nation considers success in these huge undertakings will determine its viability and survival. We hope the international community will strengthen its partnership with Ethiopia in its endeavour to realise its lofty objective of fully-fledged democracy and sustainable development.
Copies of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s speech to a post-election rally this morning are available on request.
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