Africa Today blog

The flagship African show in Press TV

Has Ethiopian elections reversed the cycle of mistrust in its democratic system?

Posted by AT on June 15, 2010

Africa Today 60
Topic: Has Ethiopian elections reversed the cycle of mistrust in its democratic system?
Broadcast: 8th June 2010
Host: Vuyiswa
Guest(s):
1- Dr. Winston Mano; Editor, Journal of African Media Studies
2- Yosef Haimanot; Central Committee member, EPPF

Part 1

Description:
Ethiopian’s have voted in the first election since a 2005 contest which was marred by protests that led to the deaths of 200 people.
Brief:
Ethiopians voted on Sunday in national elections that are expected to return long-serving Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to power in the first ballot since a disputed poll in 2005 turned violent.
The opposition admits it has little chance of victory but says that is because the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has tightened its grip on power and routinely intimidates and jails its critics.

The EPRDF says it has won popularity during a period of economic growth by building roads, hydropower dams and supplying electricity to villages in a country where nearly 10 percent of the population needed emergency food aid last year.
Mr Thijs Berman, the European Union’s chief observer, said his impression from a visit to a polling station in the capital Addis Ababa was “very positive”. But, one of the main opposition parties, the All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP) said its supporters and candidates were beaten, arrested and blocked from their constituency in Eastern and Western Ethiopia

part 2

This was Ethiopia’s first election since 2005. In that election it was reported that about 200 protestors were gunned down by police following a highly contested election in that year. In this year’s election the opposition claimed there had been fraud and irregularities in some areas of the country.   The current sitting prime minister, Meles Zenawi, who won this year’s election, has ruled the country for the past 19years. He has been criticized by the opposition and some international observers for suppressing press freedom, as well as the activities of the opposition parties and human rights groups. The AU commended the election as free and fair. However, United States and European Union observer mission criticized Prime Minister Zenawi for narrowing political space in the country.  As there were no reports of violence this time, Africa Today asks if perhaps, the election has reversed the cycle of mistrust in the country’s democratic system?

part 3

Ethiopia has a population of about 85 million people. The country mainly depends on agriculture which accounts for 60 percent of its foreign income and 80 percent of national employment.  Ethiopia has been plaque by a series of famines and droughts and its worst famine happened between 1984 and 1985 when almost one million people died after severe droughts.  Ethiopia is a strategic partner of the US in its fight against Somali insurgents and its military operations in the Horn of Africa. Mr Meles comes from a region called Tigray which accounts for about 6 percent of the national population and controls all major security institutions in the country. After successive coups Mr Meles stabilized the country after becoming Prime minister in 1995 and since then has tightened his grip on power.

 

Watch the comments on this (EthioTube) website.

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