News: Board postponed candidate registration schedule for 2nd time; evaluating Afar region complaint over polling station listing under Somali region

By Siyanne Mekonnen @siyaanne 

Addis Abeba, March 01/2021 – Faced with delays of various types, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has, for the second time, postponed the candidate registration schedule, originally set to take place between 15 – 28 February 2021.   

On February 27, the Board announced that it was extending the deadline by four more days to March 04, 2021. The NEBE attributed the decision to extend the deadline to its evaluation of delays observed in establishment of constituency offices throughout the country, which was originally set to take place  between December 25/2020 to January 25/2021.

Addis Abeba and Dire Dawa City Administrations, as well as Oromia, Benishangul Gumuz, Gambella and Harari regional states, are where the Board has said would go ahead with registration of candidates as originally scheduled.

On January 18/2021, the Board has issued a reminder for all regions and city administrations stating that its request for cooperation hadn’t been provided to it and that it hadn’t been able to secure constituency offices required to conduct preparations for the general elections slotted to take place on June 05/2021.

Since the notice the above mentioned city administrations and regional state have shown “major developments.” The Board published a notice saying Afar, Amhara, Sidama, Somali and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) Regional States have failed to submit the list of constituency offices as of the publishing of its notice on February 08.

Nevertheless, even in the two city administrations and the four regions where the Board said it has started undertaking its activities according to its schedule, delays have occurred owing largely to lack of logistics such as transport, and complaints from political parties on challenges facing them to register candidates “due to various reasons,” the Board said in its February 27 announcement as the reason for its decision to extend the deadline by four more days to March 04.

In its statement today the NEBE said it extended the deadline for the second time to March 25/2020, in the above city administrations and regional states where the first round candidate registration has commenced.

The Board mentioned that among the main challenges it was facing were delays in constituency offices establishment which has affected election officials’ performances even after they were trained and dispatched; incomplete establishment of constituency offices in some regions, which caused the delays in candidate registrations and resulted in the Board to split the process in two separate rounds; as well as transport shortages in electoral material distributions, and the careful work needed in evaluating some 140, 000 independent election officials.

In Oromia, two of the major opposition parties: Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC) repeatedly said they have not started preparations for the election due to arrests of their leadership including executive and central committee members as well as rank and file members from both parties. They have also continued complaining about having their regional offices and their offices in Addis Abeba forcibly shut down by the incumbent Prosperity Party (PP). But the Board has not commented yet.

In a short notice published on February 18, the NEBE said that following its announcement of nationwide polling stations, a complaint has been filed by Afar regional state indicating that some polling stations were inaccurately listed under the list of polling stations in Kebele’s under the Somali Regional State. The Afar Regional State has submitted a list of polling stations in 8 kebeles and requested the Board to revisit its list. The National Election Board of Ethiopia will evaluate the complaint submitted by the Afar Regional State and announce its decision before voters’ registration begins.”

The Board has already announced that there will be no election in the war-torn Tigray regional state, whereas progress update on Amhara, Amhara, Sidama and Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regional States, where the Board said list of constituency offices weren’t delivered to it according to its schedule, is not available as of yet. AS   

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