News: Voters in Somali State cast ballots for incumbent candidates after withdrawal of three opposition parties

Somali State Deputy President Mustefa Omer casting ballot in an election only his party is taking part. Picture: Somali Regional State Information

Addis Abeba, September 30/2021 – Voters in Somali regional state are casting their ballots today as part of the general elections in the regional state which was delayed from original schedule on June 21.

The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) postponed the election in all 14 constituencies in Somali state due to various irregularities including IT related problems, complaints of stolen election papers, and problems related with contested constituencies with neighboring Afar state. The Board then reorganized a new date for today.

However, three opposition parties have already withdrawn from the delayed election in the last two weeks. The main opposition party, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), said it withdrew from the election because its concerns were not addressed, its supporters were not registered to vote, and most of the voting cards were stored with the ruling party members. “There is no sense in pursuing an election that has already been decided,” Abdi Mahdi, ONLF chairman, told Addis Standard.

Voters in Shinile zone, Somali state casting ballot for regional branch of the incumbent Prosperity Party. Picture: Somali Region Information

Similarly, the Somali state branches of the Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (Ezema) and Freedom and Equality Party (FEP) announced their withdrawal on September 21. In a joint statement the two parties released, they said: “it was important that the 6th National Elections of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia  took place and created in the Somali region an environment that is peaceful and fair for all political parties to compete equally and free from obstacles. With that aim, it is remembered that the political parties in the region reached an understanding with the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE).”

In the absence of the three opposition parties, candidates of the incumbent Prosperity Party are the sole participants of the election. AS

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