EU abandons Ethiopia election observation plan
The European Union dropped its plan to send observers to a parliamentary election in Ethiopia next month, saying conditions had not been met on communication systems and the mission’s independence.
Announcing the decision on Monday evening, EU senior diplomat Josep Borrell said in a statement that the 27-nation bloc would also not follow preparations for the June 5 election, including voter registration.
“The EU regrets the refusal to meet the standard requirements for the deployment of any election observation mission, namely the independence of the mission and the import of mission communication systems,” Borrell said.
“It is disappointing that the EU has not received the assurances necessary to extend to the Ethiopian people one of its most visible signs of support for their quest for democracy.”
Ethiopia’s foreign ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti said the main sticking point was about communication systems.
“Firstly, they said they would come with V-SAT communication equipment which is outside of Ethiopia’s communication technology system,” Mufti said at a press conference.
“We have held six elections so far as a country, but we have never had such a demand from observers. Every electoral area is accessible by the national telecommunication system, they can use it.”
Ethiopia, a country of 110 million people, has one of the last closed telecommunications markets in the world, but has started the process of liberalizing it. Read more
Ethiopia was scheduled to hold an election in August 2020, but it has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, there have been conflicts in the northern Tigray region, which will not participate in the vote, and in other regions.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party face challenges from increasingly determined ethnic parties seeking more power for their regions. Read more
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