Today Sunday May 24, 2015, 36.8 million Ethiopians will exercise their constitutional right and cast their votes for the 5th round of national election. The number of voters is 15.3 percent higher from the 2010 elections. The outcome of the election is set to be announced by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) on June 22nd.
Fifty eight political parties are taking part in this election.
Women election participation in the country’s political landscape is also said to be significantly growing. According to NEBE, currently, of the 36.8 million registered voters, about 18 million or 48 percent of them are women. Women election poll officials also reached 40 percent, while, 1,270 or 23 percent are women candidates from all parties that are contenders for seats.
In the 2010 election the opposition won one seat out of 547 in the national legislature and captured just 8 percent of the popular vote. While a less crushing defeat is expected this time, analysts are not predicting significant gains for fragmented, uninspired opponents that have wilted under the EPRDF’s glare.
The election is also the first since the death of Meles Zenawi in 2012, the architect of modern Ethiopia who ruled for 21 years, and it presents an opportunity for successor as prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, to emerge from Meles’ long shadow in Africa’s second most populous country according to some media reports.
Hailemariam told al-Jazeera this week: “This is a fledgling democracy and we say that this is a house in the making, and democracy cannot be built within a few years of time. But the thing is, we believe we are on the right track.”
Like it was the case in previous elections, poor finance was the biggest bottleneck that eclipsed on opposition parties campaign. Most of them carried out their campaign with a budget not more than 1.5 million birr. The Blue Party had devoted a budget of 92 million birr which is a record in the history of an opposition party campaign rally. Judging by the intensity the ruling party has also budgeted 24 million birr for the campaign.
EPRDF, a coalition of four parties, came to power in 1991 by unseating a military regime. It has only faced one significant electoral challenge, in 2005, when an opposition coalition made gains in urban areas. However, disputed results led to violence and subsequently the widespread imprisonment of Coalition for Unity and Democracy members.
Whoever won the election, people have made their needs clear; they need the elected to create more jobs, they need a leader who can transform the society, prime minister and MPS who can bring about more heroes and heroines in different fields of development and leaders who can foster income margins.
There are several issues that need to be addressed: the cost of living needs to go down, the significant housing need must be met and the challenges the private sector or the business community faces needs to be given attention. There needs to be a system that is transparent and accountable.
Ethiopia has a huge investment attraction potential and to unleash that potential there needs to be a holistic system for investors rather than leaving them with the inconvenience of wandering from one office to another.
The state needs to provide enough support to senior citizens.
The aspiration of Ayle Melkamu who is a dweller of Addis Ababa can represent the dreams of many citizens. He wants the winning party to invest in human development.
“I see roads, rail way, dams being constructed and I am glad about all that because these activities create more jobs and develop the country. But what was done to advance intellectual development of people? Infrastructure development alone can’t advance the country; human development must be a priority.”
“I have seen people who abuse an entrusted power and embezzle public money. I saw people who waste their time sinking in their office chair and doing nothing. I see college graduates who are unenlightened, academic aristocrats who topple the erudite.” “Leaders, please invest in your people parallel to other development works,” he pleads the party who will run the nation for the next five years to make human development a priority.
This year NEBE will deploy some 40,000 observers at the 45,795 polling stations all over the country.
The only foreign election observers are from the African Union, which has sent a team of 59. The European Union and the US-based Carter Center, which monitored 2005 and 2010 elections, will not participate this time.