Ten points on Ethiopia’s Election (Melak Mengistab)

(Melak Mengistab)

In this post I will neither debate nor congratulate the electoral process, I am here to outline some points that begs consideration by the government. First and for most, I am proud to say, thanks for the civility that fellow Ethiopians have showed during and in the post-election time.

In the early morning of the Election Day, while trying to go through all media outlets, I have learnt, the deployment of huge security forces to guarantee the smoothly running of the electoral process. It gives me mixed feeling first and foremost the fear that violence might erupt and blood shed might follow and the second one is, even if the government wins it signals that the acknowledgement that there are substantial number of peoples still uncomfortable with the government – thereby forcing it work hard to satisfy those dissidents – is that not the whole power exercise?

In whatever way you acquire 100%? seats, it is more problematic to the government than the opposition, because it undermine: the international image, legitimacy as well the democratic workshop of the government. Then again still it not late for recounting and rechecking of votes. But one thing is crystal clear at this stage, whatever reshuffle and contest comes, the ruling regime has got sufficient votes to lead the country for the next five years. i wrote this piece against this backdrop, that the government has already won but the debate is about the 100%.

My 10 views on, what EPRDF – the party that won 100%(?) parliamentary seats, should and shouldn’t do:Photo - An Ethiopian voter at a polling station

1. In post 2010 after the same landslide victory, Meles acknowledged in his speech, that the 99.9% win was beyond the party’s expectation and more of a burden than a blessing. He remarked that, in 2005 election, the Addis Ababa voters has punished them for not doing anything, unequivocally, He was overwhelmed by the 2010 results as the party takes all seats except one. He takes it as a serious responsibility and burden which EPRDF has tried to reciprocate with huge projects in the city – including the famous city trains and road projects.

NB:- I expect the same token of appreciation and heart felt indebtedness, rather personal aggrandizement of basking in the glow victory- no member of the party should dare to take it for granted because it will have a different repercussion.

2. Second, beside fast growing economy, the government showed devise a system to redistribute the fruits of development to the least well off. Same argument in Al-Jazeera has been broadcasted on the day of the election, because not everyone is benefiting from the fast economic growth.

3. Related to point 2, assuming the party will stick with its Asian role models (mainly china), it should balance the amount of freedom and liberty sacrificed for a certain degree of emancipation from extreme poverty and mal-administration. Equilibrium must be maintained unless it will keep “winning” many more elections in 100%.

4. Winning this election, should be taken the way Meles has earn marked five years ago, i.e. as push for further work – not a guarantee that we can do whatever we do, so long as we control the coercive apparatus of the state (as some ardent members believe), because I am certain, acquiring huge votes is something beyond the use of force (well you can debate it, still).

5. Building public trust – one of the weakest point of the party which unable to mimic from its Chines role models, is the ability to build everlasting public covenant with the people in guaranteeing that every penny in the country will be used for public gain and, nobody- will treated more than others. Corruption and maladministration is the bottleneck in reordering the fruits of development to the poor mass. The new PM has already started and should pursue further in prosecution of high level officials involved in grand corruption.

6. Rather than trying to create short term mob through salary increment, it is better to approach the problem of rising cost of living – by intensifying agricultural productivity to reduce the price of food and basic consumption.

7. From a political and nationalist stand, in this five years, it will be a big deal to announce and start huge ambitious projects (say for example, train lines that connects North to south and East to West of the country) – though such projects are time taking and costly, but they are instrumental to forge long lasting national sentiment of unification (GERD in mind).

8. In the absence any opposition member of political parties, the government has to devise a strategy to endorse the different political parties in the country as well as create a framework of ‘agency’ among its members in the parliament to have their own take on policy matters (let’s face it democratic centralism will not be a viable alternative at this stage).

9. The state of human rights must be taken in to account (which can be demonstrated by releasing all political prisoners) – after all the whole point of development is the betterment of mankind.

10. More than ever the government need to be open and accessible to media, NGOs and more importantly to the public, because in the absence of opposition, somebody need to inform them every time about what is happening out of the party’s reach- because one of the disadvantage of 100% is you never know what your adversaries (not in the sense of enmity) are thinking about you and the world around you.

I would like to recap what I have said in my earlier post, the election was about choosing between apples and oranges (not bread and stone) – this season, let’s say many people opt for orange, next time their choice might be apple(who knows). I wish for the winning party all the wisdom to rule humbly, and for oppositions to flourish in our next election.

Let us move forward and keep peace alive!


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