The support makes Britain the largest donor to the national election thus far

May 4 , 2019

The United Kingdom has pledged to provide 582 million Br to support the upcoming national election expected to take place next year.

The funding will be used to build the capacity of institutions, such as the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia, make electoral operations more transparent and enhance the Board’s communication and engagement with the public. It also aims at preventing electoral violence through monitoring and early warning to improve the effectiveness of the electoral dispute.

The support was announced on May 2, 2019, at the British Embassy, where British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Birtukan Mideksa, chairperson of the Board, were present.

“Ethiopia has been taking giant steps forward, and the democratic reforms so far have been inspiring,” said Hunt.

The support, which makes Britain the largest donor to the election thus far, will be implemented through the United Nations Development Programme.

“The substantial British contribution to Ethiopia’s electoral process along with other development partners is timely and will allow UNDP to deliver quality assistance to the Board,” said Louise Chamberlain, UNDP resident representative to Ethiopia, who added that some of the funding administered by the body would also go to civil society organisations.

Ethiopia is the largest recipient of aid from Britain in Africa. Britain’s support is mostly directed into education, health and the One Wash programme, a programme that aims to modernise the way water and sanitation services are delivered in Ethiopia.

Last month, the Swedish government pledged 20 million dollars to be used in the areas of election support, legal reform and capacity building of human rights organisations.

“The upcoming election requires a lot of money, which can’t be wholly covered by the state alone,” says Birtukan, acknowledging the importance of such support.

The Board is going forward with its preparation for the May 2020 national election and is expecting the approval of four additional board members by parliament next week.

Last month, parliament approved a bill that re-established the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia. The proclamation restructured the composition of the board members and their service year. It increased the number of board members to nine from five and made them full-time employees.

Ethiopia has had five general elections, running every five years, since becoming a federal republic. The last one, held in 2015, saw the EPRDF and its allies win every seat in Ethiopia’s parliament. Local elections are supposed to be held this year, but no date has been set as of yet.

Girma Seifu, a former member of parliament, supports foreign donations for the election process.

“The funding can help the Electoral Board go far in preparing for the election, from the training of human power to the digitisation of the registration process,” said Girma.

But opposition parties are cautious when it comes to such types of funding, saying previous donations and financial support were not used to ensure free and fair elections.

“Resource shortages were not the reason that free and fair elections were not held in the country,” said Melaku Shumiye, political affairs head at the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA). “There has to be independence of the electoral board in the proper utilisation of the funding.

PUBLISHED ON May 04,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 992]

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