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Economy & Business Ethiopia featured Finance Markets News

Ethiopia: IMF projects 8.7% growth, urges for more private sector role

IMF projects Ethiopia to grow 8.7% and 8% for the current and the next fiscal years, respectively. Whereas, the World Bank estimated 9.5% and 10.5% for the two periods.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team projected Ethiopia’s real GDP growth to be around 8.7% and 8% for fiscal years 2014/15 and 2015/16, respectively.

“Ethiopia’s state-led development model has delivered rapid and broad-based growth over many years”, read the statement IMF issued at the end of last week. “It has also reduced poverty significantly, while keeping inequality low. The outlook for Ethiopia remains highly favorable…”, it added.Logo - International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Public investmentin infrastructure, for which Ethiopia have the third highest rate in the world, is already helping alleviate limitations on private sector development, the statement observed. Yet, advised for increasing the efficiency of customs clearance and other administrative procedures, improving the quality of logistics, and increasing access to credit.

The statement deemed the single digits inflation rate “an important achievement for macroeconomic stability”, however recommended for “a continued cautious monetary policy stance” in light of “food prices pushing inflation close to 10 percent”.

The statement was came after IMF’s team spent the past two weeks in Addis Ababa – meeting with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia Teklewold Atnafu, Minister of Finance and Economic Development Sufian Ahmed as well as the private sector, diplomats and the civil society, as part of its “Article IV Consultation” for 2015.

Boosting domestic and foreign resource mobilization, and reducing bottlenecks to doing business are two “key factors” to be focused on to sustain rapid and broad-based growth over the medium term, IMF’s team advised, adding that “these should allow for a growing role for the private sector, which holds the key to job-rich growth going forward”.

The statement urged for transparency in state-owned enterprises and for more credit to flow to the private sector, among others, noting that:

On public investment, which is to a large extent executed by state-owned enterprises, [IMF] advised that its pace should remain consistent with macroeconomic sustainability, and with allowing for more credit to flow to the private sector. Given the importance of maintaining debt sustainability, the team encourages the government to consider innovative forms of financing, such as private-public partnerships and other options that could help mobilize private non-debt financing. Enhancing oversight of public enterprises by the general government, and making information on their operations available on a more timely basis, is also critical for establishing a solid fiscal anchor.

On the other hand, The World Bank, in its update last month, projected Ethiopia’s economy to grow by 9.5% and 10.5% for fiscal years 2014/15 and 2015/16, respectively.

The Bank also projected inflation to remain in single digits in the next two years while it expects falling oil prices to help accelerate Ethiopia’s growth in 2015/16.

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Economy & Business EFFORT Ethiopia featured News

Ethiopian Roads Authority gets new chief, stirs ‘revolving doors’ concerns

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn appointed, Araya Girmay, deputy manager of Sur construction plc., as Director General of Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA), on June 12.

Araya, who was one of the eight shortlisted for the job, by the Minister of Transport Workeneh Gebeyehu, who doubles as chair of ERA’s Board of Directors. His predecessor, Zaid Woldegebriel was removed last October upon the request of the Minister. At the time The Reporter claimed “road projects awarded to foreign contractors without adequate assessment of their performance in other road projects is the major source of disagreement between the minister and Zaid”.

Araya, a civil engineering graduate of Addis Ababa University (AAU) in 1995, served ERA for eight years as project and district manager before joining the private sector. Photo - Addis Ababa Mexico square

For the past decade, Araya has been functioning as manager of several projects of Sur Construction, including the May-day dam, before being promoted to deputy manager and construction department manager post in 2013.

Sur construction,  established 23 years ago with a 108 million Birr capital, have now reached an annual turnover of 1.4 billion Birr. It had 40 contracts with the ERA until a year ago, according to Fortune. The firm is a subsidiary of EFFORT (Endowment for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Tigrai).

Araya has pledged to make modernization and transparency of ERA’s operations his priorities. Araya reportedly said, “my main priority will be achieving targets in the coming road sector program under the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II),” in which the construction of 110,000 Km of roads is planned.

Engineer Araya is credited for successfully completing what is said to be the most difficult and complicated road project, the 147 km Shawura Gelego road project in North Gondar, in which he was the project manager 16 years ago. His former boss, General Manager of Sur Construction, Engineer Tadesse Yemane, told Ethiopian Reporter that Araya successfully completed the four road projects he managed, including the Menebegna – Lemlem Berha road project.

Araya’s move from a company seeking contracts from the ERA, to leadership of the ERA, comes at a time when the Roads Authority is scolded by the Federal Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC), for corruption prone bidding practices.

The potential conflict of interest arising from such types of assignments, termed as ‘revolving door’, is a point that needs examination. The ‘revolving door’ is a movement of personnel between a supervisory government agency and business firms with in the same industry, which may cause potential conflict of intersts.

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Corruption cases Economy & Business Ethiopia featured Finance Markets News Politics and Legal

Watchdog: Roads Authority prone to corruption and overruns

The Federal Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC), revealed that it found the contracting practices of Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA) vulnerable to corruption. The commission also pointed out that the authority is also prone to cost and time overruns in a presentation of its research findings on a June 10 meeting at Ghion hotel.

The commission’s study has found gaps in 20 ERA projects it assessed. Among the gaps found, tendering procedures especially awarding projects without considering the track record of companies has resulted in time and cost overruns and also compromising quality. These overruns led to hundreds of millions Birr additional cost on some contracts, it found.

According to Aklilu Mulugeta, corruption prevention director of the commission, it is not illegal to have similar companies on several projects if their track record is considered and measured.

Construction projects involve several parties and hence, vulnerable to corruption, said Fetlework Haile, corruption prevention Advisor of the commission. The study also pointed out ERA’s weakness in its supervision and progress monitoring of each and every project.Logo - Federal Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC)

ERA’s own report on the “Causes of Time and Cost Overrun on ERA Road Construction Projects” has only reinforced the commission’s findings. ERA’s report found out that out of 56 road projects completed between 2006 and 2015, eight and eleven had faced cost and time overruns, respectively, while 37 projects faced both.

A 97 Km road construction project in north-western Tigray, has only three quarters of it completed as of October 2014 though it was scheduled to be completed in February of 2012 costing the taxpayer an additional 274 million Br, another study done by the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative’s (COST) revealed. According to COST’s study, design revision, lack of transparency, protracted procurement and inadequate capacity of the contractor, were credited for the delay.

ERA officials, however, while admitting there is much room for improvement, rejected the commission’s findings, especially on their bidding practice. They stated their inability to deny similar companies from participating in a bid and winning contracts based on their merit and also asserted that they consider track record of bidders and award contracts accordingly.

The officials also criticized what they said were errors in the commission’s study. They called the claim that one company, Satcon Construction, is working on twelve projects erroneous as the company is involved in only five projects. Making conclusions based on such a few projects out of more than a thousand projects conducted in two decades is misleading, they lamented.

The Commission recommended that ERA implement a design auditing system so as to make companies and individuals accountable and also to filter projects with gaps in terms of resource wastage and take legal and administrative action.

FEACC was established fourteen years ago and has been pursuing corruption cases that take place in cities under federal jurisdiction, the capital city Addis Ababa and the nation’s second city, Dire Dawa.

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Categories
Country Economy & Business Ethiopia featured Finance Markets News

Ethiopia to establish a Secondary Capital Market in a Year

Ethiopia is set to establish a Secondary Capital Market for local currency and Treasury bills in about a year. 

“Foreign investors would most likely be barred”, according to World Bank’s program leader for Ethiopia, Lars Christian Moller, remark to Reuters.  The Bank and the IMF had participated in the National Bank of Ethiopia’s(NBE) study on a secondary debt market that could help the government raise funds.

The successful Ethiopian Commodity Exchange is also mulling to broaden its operations into stock and bond trading, as Bloomberg recently reported.

A capital market is a market for debt or equity securities and other financial instruments, used by business and governments to raise Photo - Ethiopian Commodity Exchange - ECXlong-term funds. In primary capital markets, new bond or stock issues are sold to investors via the mechanism known as underwriting. In secondary capital markets, existing securities are sold and bought among investors or traders, usually on a stock exchange (SE), over-the-counter (OTC), or elsewhere.

The government cash-strapped since the launch of several mega infrastructure projects reaching the world’s third-highest public investment rate. Ethiopia borrowed $1 billion from international investors in its oversubscribed maiden Eurobond debut in January.

There seems a need for the development of a capital market as a complementary source of capital for long-term financing in addition or as a substitute to the loans from the commercial banks.

Moody’s recent country report is only encouraging for the central bank in this endeavor. According to the report, “Ethiopia’s debt burden is low compared to its peers, standing at around 26% of GDP in 2014 while the median for B-rated countries is at 42% of GDP”, thereby affording the government an experimentation on secondary debt market.

The effort to establish a capital market is as old as the lifespan of the free market in Ethiopia.

In early 1995, few years after the introduction of free market economy, the National Bank of Ethiopia reportedly undertook a study on the “Feasibility of Establishing Securities Exchange Market in Ethiopia” and also prepared a draft Securities and Exchange proclamation. However, the study failed to get government approval.

In mid 2008, the NBE launched a capital market infrastructural development study with international consultants under the Financial Sector Capacity Building Project. The initiative was finance d by the World Bank (WB) based on the potential interest of the government which was reviewing it according to WB Ethiopia Office and the Project Unit at NBE.

It is after five years, on October 2013, that NBE representatives had revealed that the central bank finalized its study to establish secondary market during a discussion held at the Hilton hotel that was attended by experts from the financial sector. “But, we have gone back to our study and focus on a stock exchange that will include both the primary and secondary market,” an expert from NBE explained at the time.

Recent announcements only mention the establishment of a secondary market stock exchange indicating a likely move by the government to delay or shelve the primary market stock exchange plan.

Whether effective supervisory and regulatory institutions, the critical preconditions for the creation of capital market, can be fulfilled in a year or so is yet to be seen.

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Aid and Loan Country Economy & Business Ethiopia featured News

Moody’s retains Ethiopia’s B1 rating – notes weak Institutional Strength

The leading creating ratings agency, Moody’s Investors Service (abr. as Moody’s) retained Ethiopia’s B1 Credit rating.

In its country credit analysis report released last Friday, Moody’s announced that “Ethiopia’s favorable growth prospects and low debt burden support B1 rating”.

Ethiopia attained a B1 rating from Moody’s on May 2014 ahead of its oversubscribed maiden Eurobond issuance. Two other leading agencies gave similar credit rating to Ethiopia at about the same time.

Last Friday’s report is a periodic update of Moody’s analysis on the credit worthiness and credit risk level of Ethiopia to investors and creditors.

“While Ethiopia’s economy is relatively small, with an estimated nominal GDP of around $50 billion in 2014, it has grown rapidly over the last decade averaging 10.8% in real terms. …In comparative terms, the economy is about the same size as that of Jordan (B1) and Kenya (B1), and growth has outpaced the B1 median as well as regional and Asian peers”, states the report.

Moody’s report, obtained by HornAffairs, shows that Ethiopia’s credit rating (B1) was supported in the credit analysis that evaluated her credit profile in terms of four rating factors: Namely; Economic Strength, Institutional Strength, Fiscal Strength and Susceptibility to Event Risk.

The four factors are assessed on a scale that ranges from very high to very low.

Ethiopia scored Moderate (-) in Economic Strength, Very Low (+) in Institutional Strength and Moderate (+) in both Fiscal Strength and Susceptibility to Event Risk rating factors.Chart - Moody's Sovereign Rating Metrics for Ethiopia

Moody’s report scored Ethiopia’s Economic Strength as Moderate (-), while her regional peers Ghana (B3-), Uganda (B1) and Senegal (B1+) score Low (+). This score is an evaluation of the economic structure, primarily reflected in economic growth, the scale of the economy and wealth, as well as in structural factors that point to a country’s long-term economic robustness and shock-absorption capacity.

The Moderate (-) score of Ethiopia was based on the resilience of her economy in registering strong growth despite depressed export prices and continuation of the high public investment rate, which is the world’s third-highest.

Looking forward, states the report, “We expect public-sector investment to continue to drive economic expansion in the near-term, with growth averaging around 10% in real terms over the next two years”. Economic slowdown in major export partners like China, constraints to the financing of Ethiopia’s major investment projects, or a protracted slump in the country’s main commodity export prices are some of potential shocks identified.

Ethiopia’s Institutional Strength on the other hand scored Very Low (+), a rank similar to regional peers the Republic of the Congo (Ba3) and Uganda score Very Low (+) while Angola, Nigeria (Ba3) and the D.R. Congo score Very Low (-).

The assessment of institutional strength, according to the report, is underpinned by three categories of the World Bank’s governance indicators: Government Effectiveness, Rule of Law, and Control of Corruption in which Ethiopia scores roughly in line with the B-median, for Government Effectiveness and Rule of Law and exceeds the B-rated median in one category, Control of Corruption.

On the third rating factor, Fiscal Strength, Ethiopia’s scores as Moderate (+), similar to Vietnam (B1) and Uganda. The score reflects “its small fiscal deficits and low debt levels, while constrained by very low revenue ratios compared to its peers, and potential sizable contingent liabilities in the public enterprise sector”.

According to the report, “low and stable deficits characterize Ethiopia’s fiscal position…achieved through prudent spending control in the face of fluctuating grant financing, and increased efforts to mobilize domestic revenues as nominal expenditure has grown”.

The analysis noted the federal government’s tight budget execution over the last decade, low debt burden as compared to its peers, standing at around 26% of GDP in 2014 with the median for B-rated countries at 42% of GDP and also Ethiopia’s budgetary allocation for the poor (pro-poor development spending), which averaged 13% of GDP over the last decade and is the highest in Africa.

The report score Ethiopia’s Susceptibility to Event Risk as Moderate (+), which reflected a Moderate score of political risk, low government liquidity and Banking system risks and Low (+) score for Ethiopia’s external vulnerability risk.

Improving institutional quality and weak tax collection, deepening private sector participation in the economy and attracting more foreign direct investment are some of the recommendations of the report.

The full report can be purchased from Moody’s here

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Categories
Country Election Ethiopia featured National Election Board (NEB) News Opposition politics Organization Politics and Legal

MEDREK rejects election results, suggesting “civil disobedience could be next”

MEDREK, the main opposition coalition, rejected the results of the May 24th parliamentary and regional elections in a press conference held on Thursday.

Provisional results of the 5th parliamentary and regional elections held on the 23th of May 2015 released by National Electoral Board of Ethiopia(NEBE) on Wednesday showed a landslide win for the ruling coalition. EPRDF won all the 442 out of 547 parliamentary seats the results are released. The final results are expected to be announced on the 25th of June 2015.

Beyene Petros (PhD), chairman of MEDREK, expressed their foreknowledge that the election won’t be fair based on institutional problems and past experiences. Phot - Medrek leaders reject election

“We have witnessed the Ethiopian people desire to see the government out of office”, Beyene replied when asked why they took part in the election if you already knew it’s not going to be fair.

“And we are all able to see that because of our participation in the election in which we awakened the populace”, Beyene answered. “Who knows, the next stage in the struggle maybe civil disobedience”, he predicted.

The chairman also said that the party believes there is a possibility to conduct an election review process after reaching an agreement with the government on members of an independent review commission.

Merera Gudina (PhD), vice Chairman of MEDREK, on his part said that the government was desperate in its election misconducts after they dismantled its local organizing system. It is after that, Merera surmised, the government used everything including the army to alter the election result.

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Categories
Country Election Ethiopia featured National Election Board (NEB) News Opposition politics Organization Politics and Legal

Semayawi party: “This election was worse than the previous ones”

Semayawi party announced its rejection of both the process and the results of last weekend’s election. The party rejected the election result in a press conference at its headquarters on Friday May 29, 2015.

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia(NEBE) released  on Wednesday provisional results for the parliamentary and regional elections. The ruling coalition EPRDF won all the 442 out of 547 parliamentary seats – for which the results are released so far. NEBE is expected to announce the final results on the 25th of June 2015.

Semayawi party said, in its press conference, that it participated in the election with the full knowledge that there are no independent and competent institutions and that the ruling party wouldn’t allow for real elections to be held.Photo - Semayawi party leaders reject Ethiopian election

“We don’t expect anything”, said the leaders of the party in reply to a question whether the party expects to win seats from the 105 parliamentary seats results that are yet to be announced

The party also distributed a written statement for the media, during the press conference, detailing a laundry list of election malpractices that the party claims to have been done by the ruling party and the NEBE.

Illegal arrests, beatings and even murder of its members and election observers are some of the malpractices allegedly carried out by the government before voting day.

Seleshi Feyisa, vice chairman and election affairs chief of the party, said the misconducts detailed testifies that Ethiopia is still not able to conduct free and fair elections. “This election is even worse than the previous ones being very biased, unfair and non-credible”, Seleshi added.

Yilikal Getnet, Chairman of Semayawi party, said: “conducting free elections to establish a government of the people is impossible in a country where there is no freedom”. Therefore, this maxim will continue to be the guiding principle of our democratic and peaceful struggle, he said.

Yilkal also emphasized on the peaceful nature of their struggle and warned of government misrepresentation of it as violent.

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African Union Election Ethiopia featured National Election Board (NEB) Organization

Ethiopia Election: Text of AU Observers’ Preliminary Report

African Union Election Observation Mission to the 24 May 2015 Parliamentary Elections in the Federal Democratic Republic Of Ethiopia

Preliminary Statement Presented By H.E. Hifikepunye Pohamba Former President of the Republic Of Namibia and Head of the African Union Observation Mission. Addis Ababa, 26 May 2015

I. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

1. At the invitation of the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the African Union Commission Chairperson, H.E. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma deployed an African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) to the 24 May 2015 Parliamentary elections in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

2. The Mission was headed by H.E. Hifikepunye Pohamba, former President of the Republic of Namibia and comprised 50 Short-Term Observers (STOs) and 9 Long-Term Observers (LTOs) drawn from the Pan-African Parliament, Election Management Bodies, Civil Society Organisations, Human Rights Institutions, Think Tanks and experts from different African Countries[1].

3. The Mission was supported by a technical team drawn from the Department of Political Affairs of the African Union Commission (AUC).

4. The AUEOM was mandated to observe the 24 May 2015 Parliamentary Elections in Ethiopia in conformity with the provisions of the Constitutive Act of the Union adopted in July 2000; the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa (AHG/Decl.1 XXXVIII) as adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union and the African Union Guidelines for Election Observation and Monitoring Missions, both adopted in July 2002; the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which entered into force on 15 February, 2012. The Mission is also guided by other relevant regional and international instruments governing the conduct of elections such as the Universal Declarations of Human Rights (UDHR) adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1948, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which entered into force in March 1976; the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and its accompanying Code of Conduct endorsed by the AU in 2005; and the Constitution and National Laws of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Ethiopia has also acceded to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and subjected itself to voluntary assessment.

II. MISSION OBJECTIVES AND METHODOLOGY

a) Objective

5. In fulfilling its mandate as stipulated in the afore-mentioned instruments; the objective of the AUEOM is to make an independent, impartial and objective assessment of the 24 May 2015 Parliamentary elections in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

b) Methodology

To achieve its objective, the AUEOM undertook the following activities:

6. The African Union (AU) deployed nine (9) Long-Term Observers on 19 April 2015 to observe the pre-election phase of the electoral cycle and will remain in the country until 7 June 2015 to observe the immediate post-election phase. Photo - African Union Election Observation Mission to Ethiopia Election

7. Fifty (50) AU Short-Term Observers arrived in Addis Ababa on 17 and 18 May 2015 and held a three-day briefing and orientation programme from 19 – 21 May 2015. This programme provided an opportunity for a refresher training of observers on the African Union observation methodology and AU Code of Conduct for observers before deployment. It was also an opportunity for observers to be briefed by national stakeholders.

8. The Observers received comprehensive briefing from the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE); representatives of political parties and candidates; senior officers of the Federal, Regional and district police; members of the diplomatic Corps, representatives from civic organisations including women and youth associations; the media and its regulating body; the Ethiopia Broadcasting Authority; the national office of the Ombudsman and academia.

9. The Head of Mission held high-level consultations with key stakeholders including the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the President of the Supreme Court of Ethiopia, the Speaker of the Peoples’ House of Assembly, the African Diplomatic Missions in Ethiopia, Human Rights Commission and leadership of some political parties.

10. On 22 May 2015, the Mission deployed 29 observer teams, each comprised of two observers to the 2 administrative cities of Ethiopia namely Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa and 8 of the 9 regions of Ethiopia namely Amhara, Benishangul- Gumuz, Gambella, Harari, Oromia, SNNPR, Somali and Tigray. However, the mission could not deploy in Afar Region due to logistical constraints. While in the field, observers consulted with regional and constituency level officials of NEBE, the police and other relevant stakeholders.

11. On Election Day, the teams visited 356 polling stations in their areas of deployment.

12. AU STOs returned to Addis Ababa on 25 May 2015 for a debriefing session where they reported back on their findings and shared their overall assessment of the elections, while the LTOs remained in the field to observe the vote tabulation process.

13. This statement presents the Mission’s preliminary findings up until the close of polling on 24 May 2015. These findings are based on data gathered through direct observations and consultation with relevant stakeholders. A final report of the Mission’s assessment of the elections will be published within two (2) months of the announcement of the final results on the African Union website and shared with the Ethiopian Authorities.

III. PRELIMINARY FINDINGS AND OBSERVATIONS THE PRE-ELECTION PERIOD

a) General Political Context

14. The 2015 Parliamentary Elections are the fifth democratic elections in Ethiopia since 1995. The Mission further notes that Ethiopia’s adoption of democracy since 1995 has also brought about rapid development, which has contributed to making the country one of the fastest, growing economies in Africa.

15. The Mission recognized the incremental democratic improvement Ethiopia has made over time, moving to a multiparty democracy.

16. The political environment since the arrival of the AUEOM in Ethiopia has been generally peaceful and calm and has remained so up till Election Day. There were however reports of violent skirmishes between supporters of opposition political parties and the ruling political party due to deep rooted unresolved conflicts in Bonga district in SNNPR. As a result, the NEBE suspended elections in the reported constituency.

17. The AUEOM is satisfied with the conduct of the political parties, candidates and supporters in the lead up to the elections, and encourages them to maintain the same until the final announcement of results and the post-election period. The Mission also commends the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia for maintaining peace and stability in the country situated in a volatile region of the Horn of Africa plagued by various security challenges, including terrorist insurgence from Al-Shabaab.

b) Legal and Constitutional Framework

18. Elections in Ethiopia are governed by the 1994 Constitution, the Amended Electoral Law (532/2007), the Electoral Code of Conduct for Political Parties (662/2009), the Political Parties Registration Proclamation (573/2008), the Proclamation to Establish the Procedure for Peaceful Demonstration and Public Political Meeting (3/1991), the Registration and Regulation of Charities and Societies Proclamation (621/2009), the Anti-Terrorism Law Proclamation (652/2009), the Freedom of the Mass Media and Access to Information Proclamation (590/2008) and other provisions of the 2004 Criminal Code.

19. The Mission noted concerns raised by some political parties and interlocutors regarding some sections of the Media law, the Anti-Terrorism law and the Charity and Society Law, which they argued limits the rights to effective citizens’ participation in political activities.

20. For the Anti Terrorism Proclamation (ATP), the interlocutors pointed to Articles 14, 17, 18 and 22, which they argue infringes on their rights of privacy, while the State argues that ATP takes into account the challenge of combating terrorism and protecting fundamental rights of its citizens. On the Charity and Society Law, interlocutors argue that the limit of external funding to 10% undermines their ability to adequately implement their programmes. The AUEOM urges that government strike a balance between promoting domestic grown democracy and the capacity of local civil societies to implement its programmes. Interlocutors argued that the Media Law potentially undermine freedom of expression and the media’s fundamental rights to protection of their sources of information, and the Government holds that while journalists are entitled to freely exercise their professional activities, such freedoms should be conducted within the bounds of the law.

The AUEOM urges for a balance between individual rights and the state security imperatives while drawing the attention of the individual to the security challenges faced by the country, the Mission draws the attention of the country to its commitment to Article 29 (2) of the Constitution, Article 19 of that International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR).

21. Ethiopia follows a first-past-the-post electoral system. The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia under Article 56 stipulates that a Political Party or a Coalition of Political Parties that has the greatest number of seats in the House of People’s Representatives shall form the Government. Furthermore, the Amended Electoral Law of Ethiopia, Proclamation no 532/2007 states that a Candidate who receives more votes within a Constituency shall be declared the winner (Article 25).

a. Preparedness of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia

22. The Mission noted that the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia was adequately prepared to conduct the 24 May 2015 elections in the regions observed. It was further noted that” the Electoral Board undertook a post-election evaluation in 2011, immediately after the 2010 election. This evaluation served as a basis for electoral reforms including political party funding, redistribution of media airtime for political party campaign and voter education in the different languages of Ethiopia.

23. The Mission was informed that there are 547 constituencies across the country, 45,795 polling stations and 226,000 election officers. Article 22 (6) of the Amended Electoral Law (Proclamation No. 532/2007) states that a maximum of 1,000 voters shall be registered in one polling station.

b. Voter registration

24. The AUEOM noted with satisfaction that out of the 37 million eligible voters, a total of 36.8 million voters were registered for the 2015 elections. The Mission commends the NEBE for registering up to 99.5% of eligible voters in these elections. The Mission is also encouraged that 48% of the registered voters are women although women represented only 27.9% of candidates.

25. Cognisant of the fact that civic registration in Ethiopia is localised and manually done, the AUEOM noted that the voters’ register is also manually done and it is localised per polling station.[2] The absence of a centralised voters’ register makes it difficult for parties, independent observers and other stakeholders to undertake an audit to confirm its authenticity. The AUEOM notes that the credibility of the voter register is fundamental to the integrity of elections.

c) Civic and Voter Education

26. The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has the mandate to undertake civic and voter education as provided in Article 89 of the Amended Electoral Law (2007). To this end, NEBE carried out continuous voter education from 2011 mainly on the legal framework and produced manuals for training in different languages taking into consideration the diversity of languages in the country. This enabled NEBE to reach out to new voters as well as ensured that interaction between NEBE and potential voters was done in languages that are comfortable to the voters.

27. The Mission noted that NEBE and Civil Society collaborated in the design and production of voter education manuals that were used for voter education as provided in Article 89 (2) of the Amended Electoral Law (2007) and Article 2 (4) (a) of the Regulation on the Procedure for Licensing and the Code of Conduct for Civic and Voter Education (Regulation No. 2/2010). The Mission recognizes that Civil Society Organizations play an important role in strengthening democracy and they further complimented the efforts of NEBE in terms of reaching out to the voters.

d) Candidate Registration and Campaigns

28. The 2015 Parliamentary elections have seen an increase in number of registered parties. The NEBE registered 58 contesting political parties for the 2015 elections of which 23 parties are contesting at the national level and 35 parties are contesting at the regional level.

29. The Mission noted that 5,819 candidates contested in the 24 May 2015 elections out of which 4,549 were male and 1,270 are female. To this end, 3,991 candidates contested at the federal level while 1,828 contested at the regional level.

30. The Mission noted that the comprehensive list of all registered candidates was not provided; rather, the NEBE provided the number of registered candidates. The AUEOM notes that in a first-past-the-post electoral system the list of individual candidates contesting the elections should be provided to the public for verification, claims and objections.

31. The AUEOM noted that the campaigns were generally peaceful though not largely visible, as it was mainly undertaken within the media space. The AUEOM observed an increase of electoral campaign activities in the last days of the campaign period.

e) Civil Society

32. The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (Article 31) guarantees citizens the right to freedom of associations of their choices on the basis of politics, gender, age, profession, trade, development, charity, special needs and other diverse areas. The Mission noted that its interaction with civil society was limited.

f) The Media Environment

33. Article 59 of the Ethiopian Electoral Law stipulates that political organisations and candidates’ supporters are entitled to free access and use of state owned media. The mass media and journalists are guided by a code of conduct derived from elections regulations number 6/2010. The code lays emphasis on ethical reporting, peaceful electoral process as opposed to focusing their attention to financial interests.

34. The Mission notes that the Ethiopia Broadcasting Authority, which also oversees the media compliance to the code of conduct, regulates the media in Ethiopia. The Mission commends NEBE, the Ministry of Information and the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority for allocating 600 hours of free electronic media airtime and 700 columns in the state owned print media for all political parties contesting in the elections. The allocation was based on the following criteria: 10 % for all parties equally, 40% dependent on the number of seats in the House of Peoples’ Representatives or the Regional Councils; 40% based on the number of candidates fielded by the party; and 10% for female candidates.

35. The Mission further informed that some political parties were unable to fully utilize the free airtime on electronic media and columns provided. The Ethiopia Broadcasting Authority (EBA) further stated that 8 political parties did not utilize the free airtime (0%) allocated to them, out of which 6 were from the regional level by the end of the second month of the campaign period. In its consultation with the EBA, the AUEOM was informed that some political party campaign messages submitted to the media houses did not meet the requirements set by EBA and therefore could not be transmitted without revision. However, some political parties confirmed that some media houses were unable to air their campaign messages, as they were not willing to revise their messages as required by the EBA.

36. Whereas the AUEOM recognises the powers of the EBA as the media regulatory body, that is mandated to demand a revision of political messages that are regarded as inflammatory. The Mission hereby draws its attention to the commitment of the State in part IV (5) of the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa which recognises the rights of individuals or political parties for freedom of campaign and to express political opinions with full access to the media and information within the limits of the laws of the land. Furthermore, the AUEOM calls upon electoral stakeholders to be cognisant of part IV (8) of the Declaration, which prohibits individuals and political parties from using abusive language and /or incitement to hate or defamatory allegations and provocative language.

g) Women participation in the Electoral Process.

37. The AUEOM notes with satisfaction that there has been an increase in the number of women elected to the House of Peoples’ Assembly from 11 in 1995, 42 in 2000, and 117 in 2005 to 152 in 2010.[3]

38. The Mission commends the NEBE for putting in place initiatives to enhance participation of women candidates in the 2015 elections through increased public funding for women candidates from 10% in 2010 to 15% in 2015. It was further noted that the Board provided a special allocation of 10% free airtime for women candidates on electronic and print media.

39. Furthermore, the Mission commends the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia for ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and encourages the state to ratify the Maputo Protocol on Women”on the rights of women in Africa.

40. The AUEOM notes that for the 2015 elections, only 27.9% of the total 5819 candidates contesting the elections were women. It is important to note that while there has been progress, this still falls short of the gender parity principle enshrined in the Constitutive Act of the African Union. The Mission therefore encourages political parties and the Ethiopian authorities to adopt further measures to achieve gender parity within party structures and elective offices.

IV. ELECTION DAY FINDINGS

41. On Election Day, the 29 AU observer teams visited 356 polling stations in their areas of deployment to observe all Election Day procedures. 64.5%of the polling stations visited by the AUEOM was located in rural areas and 35.5% were located in urban areas. The AUEOM noted that Election Day proceeded in a peaceful and calm atmosphere without reports of major incidences. The AUEOM commends the NEBE for the satisfactory technical conduct of the elections.

42. Below are further findings of the AUEOM on election day:

(a) Opening process

43. The AUEOM noted that 98.7% of the polling stations visited opened on time and all election materials were delivered on schedule and in appropriate quantities. No more than 2 polling stations out of the 27 observed by the AUEOM for opening opened slightly late. This delay was caused by polling staff still setting up.

44. The AUEOM however observed that in few instances, the polling stations opened about half an hour ahead of the prescribed time of opening (06:00). Polling personnel at these stations explained that voters (women in particular) arrived early and demanded to vote immediately to enable them return to their daily routine;[4] despite the Board being the only authorised body to make decisions in this regard. While it is encouraging to observe the eagerness of voters to exercise their right to vote, opening polls early compromises the principle of equity as all voters should be given the same hours of polling.

45. The AUEOM observed that in 21.42% of the stations visited, the Presiding Officers did not comply with article 62 (3a-b) of Proclamation 532/2007, which mandates officials to show the ballot box as empty before the opening of the poll.[5] It is important to note that the simple act of showing the ballot box as empty before opening the poll contributes to confidence building and transparency.

(b) Voting Process

46. The AUEOM witnessed the professionalism with which polling staff carried out their tasks. All voting procedures were largely in conformity with the guidelines set by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia.

47. In 69% of polling stations visited, there were queues of citizens waiting to cast their vote. The polling stations were laid out in a manner, which allowed easy flow of voters; however, in a few cases, it was reported that the space provided was small thus easily overcrowded.

48. It was observed in some of the polling stations visited that the number of voters exceeded 1000 as stipulated in article 22(6) of the Proclamation no. 532/2007. This contributed to the overcrowding witnessed in some stations.

49. The AUEOM observed that voters requiring assistance were provided with help in 60% of cases by a person of their choice and in 40% of cases they were assisted by polling staff. Most polling stations were accessible to persons living with disabilities and priority was given to them as well as the elderly, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

50. The AUEOM observed that in 22.7% of the polling stations visited there were campaign posters within the parameters of the polling stations and in some instances, individuals openly solicited votes. In 23% of the polling stations visited, the AUEOM observed campaigning inside the polling station.

51. Security personnel were visibly present at all polling stations visited by the AUEOM and their presence was unobtrusive

(c) The ballot and election materials

52. The AUEOM commends the choice of a user-friendly ballot, which made it simple for voters to express their choice, and made the process faster.

53. The AUEOM noted however, that the ballots were not serialised and they were provided in loose sheets. This could raise questions on the transparency and accountability of the voting process especially in a disputed election. With the aim of ensuring a transparent process and acquiring voters’ trust, it is necessary to adopt procedures that promote these standards of accountability.

54. In the same vein, the AUEOM observed that the choice of the type of ballot boxes was not well suited to address suspicions and distrust that exists in electoral contexts. It is therefore important to take steps that allay such fears by adopting appropriate measures and procedures that engender trust and transparency among electoral stakeholders.

55. AU observers noted that election materials, particularly ballot papers were in short supply in special stations that were visited on Election Day. As a result, voting was extended for 24hours in special voting centres, particularly in higher institutions of learning.

(d) Secrecy of the ballot

56. In 95% of the polling stations visited, the AUEOM observed that the secrecy of the vote was guaranteed. In a few cases where the secrecy of the vote was not guaranteed, it was due to the absence of polling booths coupled with the overcrowding of voters inside the polling station. It was observed that in some polling stations that more than one person was allowed into the booth per time.

(e) Party agents and independent observers

57. The AUEOM observed that domestic and public observers were present in most of the polling stations visited. it is important to mention that the presence of independent observers (both international and national) is an important factor in promoting transparency and increasing confidence in the process.

58. Despite the high number of Domestic and Public observers in each polling station, the AUEOM noticed that women were underrepresented. Indeed our figures show that women accounted for only 36.85% of observers.

59. Similarly, the AUEOM noticed the presence of party and candidate agents in all the stations visited. It was further noted that women were particularly underrepresented among party and candidate agents as they accounted for only 20% of the agents in the polling stations visited. Thus revealing once more that political parties need to be more inclusive of women. This notion can be reiterated in the number of female candidates contesting the elections.

60. The AUEOM also noted the presence of independent observers and party agents were quite passive and did not appear to be systematic.

61. The AUEOM observed further that there was an imbalance in terms of Party representation at the polling stations visited. The numbers show that the more dominant parties were better represented in most polling stations whereas less prominent ones were absent.

62. AU observers were able to perform their duties and observe on polling day. There were only three instances where the AU observers were required to obtain clearance from REBE before gaining access into a polling station. The AUEOM therefore draws the attention of the Ethiopian authorities to the rights of AU observers as stipulated in part IV of the OAU/AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections and Article 80(1) of the Proclamation 532/2007.[6]

g. Closing and Counting Process

63. AU observers were present at the close of the polls and noted that there were no queues at most stations at 18:00. It was observed that the counting was delayed for about an hour after the close of polling.

64. The AUEOM also noted discrepancies in the counting procedures, particularly the ballot reconciliation processes in some of the polling stations visited. For instance, at a polling station located at Site 10 in Jijiga Woreda in Somali region, it was noted that the number of votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters at the stations. Party agents were present but did not raise any objections about the discrepancies.

65. The AUEOM also notes that while in most of the polling stations the Presiding Officers posted the result sheets in line with article 76(1) of the Proclamation[7], a few polling stations did not comply with the provision.

66. The AUEOM wishes to reiterate the importance of the transparency of the counting and vote tabulation processes, as they are crucial to the overall integrity of an election.

V. RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSION

Recommendations

67. The Ethiopian government should consider:

*Creating a national civil registry to make it possible for NEBE to create a national register of voters for easy auditing and verification by electoral stakeholders

68. The National Elections Board of Ethiopia should consider:

*Put in place measures and procedures to enhance public trust in the electoral process by adopting serialised ballot papers with duplicates, better quality indelible ink and appropriate ballot boxes.

*Undertake more training of independent observers and party/candidate agents to introduce a more systematic approach to their work and ensure that they produce reports that would contribute to post-election reviews, as this is an important aspect of citizen’s participation.

*Ensure that all polling staff comply with the stipulated polling hours to uphold the principle of equality in the process.

*Comply with the limit of 1,000 voters per polling station as stipulated in Article 22 (6) of the Proclamation No. 532/2007.

69. Political parties should:

*Comply with the Proclamation on the Electoral Code of Conduct for Political Parties No. 662/2009.

*Putting in place measures to improve the participation of women in the electoral process as candidates and polling agents.

70. The Media

*Capacity enhancement of Civil Society groups and the EBA to undertake long term media monitoring and issue public reports during the electoral process.

Conclusion

71. Cognisant that tabulation of results is currently on-going, the AUEOM encourages Political Parties, Candidates, their Supporters and the Electorate to maintain the prevailing atmosphere of peace that characterised pre-election and Election Day and urges for the use of the legal channels of complaints and appeals should there be any post electoral disputes.

72. The AUEOM congratulates the Government, nations, nationalities and peoples of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia for the holding of another periodic election as provided for by the Constitution.

73. The Ethiopian Parliamentary elections were organised and conducted in accordance with the constitutional and legal provisions as well as the rule and regulations governing the conduct of elections in Ethiopia, as were generally consistent with the AU Guidelines on the Conduct of Elections in Africa.

74. The AUEOM concludes that the Parliamentary Elections were calm, peaceful, and credible as it provided an opportunity for the Ethiopian people to express their choices at the polls.

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Footnotes:
1) Botswana, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Seychelles, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

2) Art.35 Proclamation No. 532/2007 ‘Each polling station shall have its own elector’s roll’

3) www.ipu.org

4) Art.62 of Proclamation 532/2007 specifies that only the Board can decide to change opening/closing hour and has to make an official announcement.

5) Art. 62.3 (b) ‘After the head of the polling station shows that the ballot box is empty to those mentioned in “a”, seals the ballot box, places it in an open space visible to observers, and the minute is recorded on a form prepared by the Board for this purpose.”

6) Art 80(1) ‘A representative of an organisation who is issued with an election observation license has the right to monitor the election process and request and obtain appropriate information’

7) Art. 76(1) ‘Results of the vote counting conducted at a polling station shall be posted on a notice board of the polling station in an hour after the conclusion of counting.

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Categories
Election Ethiopia featured News

Federal and State provisional results of Ethiopian Election

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has today released provisional results of the 5th national election held on the 24th of May 2015.

The provisional results NEBE released are of 442 seats for the House of people’s Representatives and of 1508 seats for State houses.

The NEBE is expected to announce the final result on the 25th of June 2015.

Photo - Ethiopian Election Board chiefs press conference
Photo – Ethiopian Election Board chiefs press conference

1. Provisional results for 442 of the 547 seats of the House of People’s Representatives

No Regional State Number of electoral districts/seats Reported Results (seats won) Seats not yet reported Winner party
1 Tigrai 38 31 7 TPLF-EPRDF
2 Afar 8 6 2 ANDP
3 Amhara 138 107 31 ANDM-EPRDF
4 Oromiya 178 150 28 OPDO-EPRDF
5 Ethiopian Somali 23 16 7 ESDP
6 Benishangul Gumuz 9 7 2 BGDP
7 SNNPR 123 95 28 SEPDM-EPRDF
8 Gambela 3 3 GPDP
9 Hareri 2 1

1

HNL

OPDO-EPRDF

10 Dire Dawa City Adm. 2 1

1

ESDP

EPRDF

11 Addis Ababa City 23 23 EPRDF
  Total 547 442 105  


2.
Provisional results for 1508 seats of State Houses

No Regional State Number of seats Reported Results (seats won) seats not yet reported Winner party
1 Tigrai 152 123 29 TPLF-EPRDF
2 Afar 96 77 19 ANDP
3 Amhara 294 230 64 ANDM-EPRDF
4 Oromiya 537 441 96 OPDO-EPRDF
5 Ethiopian Somali 186 149 37 ESDP
6 Benishangul Gumuz 99 70 29 BGDP
7 SNNPR 348 270 78 SEPDM-EPRDF
8 Gambela 152 120 32 GPDP
9 Hareri 36 14

14

8 HNL

OPDO-EPRDF

  Total 1900 1508 392  

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Parties

EPRDF – Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front

TPLF – Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF-EPRDF)

ANDP – Afar National Democratic Party

ANDM – Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM-EPRDF)

OPDO – Oromo People’s Democratic Organization (OPDO-EPRDF)

ESDP – Ethiopian Somali Democratic Party

BGDP – Benishangul Gumuz Democratic Party

SEPDM – Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM-EPRDF)

GPDP – Gambela People’s Democratic Party

HNL – Hareri National League

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Read: Infographic: How Ethiopia voted

Categories
Election Ethiopia European Union featured Human Rights News State Department

Text of U.S. and E.U. statements on Ethiopian Election

Read below the statements from the U.S. and E.U. released on May 27.

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Full text of the press statement of the United States

Marie Harf, Deputy Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC

The United States commends the people of Ethiopia for their civic participation in generally peaceful parliamentary and regional electionsPhoto - A bride voting in Ethiopian election on May 24. We acknowledge the National Electoral Board’s organizational efforts and the African Union’s role as the only international observer mission on the ground. We also note the importance of the nine televised party debates as progress in fostering open public discussion of the challenges facing the country. We encourage all candidates, political parties and their supporters to resolve any outstanding differences or concerns peacefully in accordance with Ethiopia’s constitution and laws.

The United States remains deeply concerned by continued restrictions on civil society, media, opposition parties, and independent voices and views. We regret that U.S. diplomats were denied accreditation as election observers and prohibited from formally observing Ethiopia’s electoral process. Apart from the election observation mission fielded by the African Union, there were no international observer missions on the ground in Ethiopia. We are also troubled that opposition party observers were reportedly prevented from observing the electoral process in some locations.

A free and vibrant media, space for civil society organizations to work on democracy and human rights concerns, opposition parties able to operate without impediment, and a diversity of international and domestic election observers are essential components for free and fair elections. The imprisonment and intimidation of journalists, restrictions on NGO activities, interference with peaceful opposition party activities, and government actions to restrict political space in the lead-up to election day are inconsistent with these democratic processes and norms.

The United States has a broad and strong partnership with Ethiopia and its people. We remain committed to working with the Ethiopian Government and its people to strengthen Ethiopia’s democratic institutions, improve press freedom, and promote a more open political environment consistent with Ethiopia’s international human rights obligations.

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Full text of the press statement of the European Union

By the Spokesperson, Brussels.

“Ethiopia has peacefully concluded its pre-election process and voting and many parties and participants have actively engaged in the process. The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has put hard work and organizational efforts into ensuring that as many of Ethiopia’s 36.8 million registered voters as possible had the chance to exercise their vote.

The EU is encouraged that the process was largely peaceful and orderly. It takes note of the preliminary statement of the African Union Election Observation Mission, the only international mission present to observe the elections, including the areas for further improvement identified by the Mission.

The electoral process was discussed in the framework of the EU-Ethiopia political dialogue with the Government and with the main political actors involved. Among the issues discussed, emphasis was placed on an open political space, the freedoms of expression, association and assembly, and the neutrality of the electoral authorities, as vital to sustain the confidence of all voters and the accountability of those elected, as well as help combat extremism.

Arrests of journalists and opposition politicians, closure of a number of media outlets and obstacles faced by the opposition in conducting its campaign have limited the space for open debate and had a negative impact on the overall electoral environment. All parties need to adhere to the provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

The EU has a long-standing and deep partnership with the people and Government of Ethiopia. This covers not just bilateral support for growth, development and democracy, but regional and global issues, such as countering terrorism and climate change and addressing migration, in which both our peoples have an interest and Ethiopia has an important role to play. The EU looks forward to continuing and deepening that partnership with the new government and the people of Ethiopia in a spirit of honesty and cooperation.”

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