The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) announced on Wednesday, May20 that it has postponed the election in Gimbo zone in Bonga, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State saying that the zone “is not safe to conduct a fair and free election.”
In this zone the lone independent parliament member Dr. Ashebir Weldegiorgis was supposed to contend with Dr. Mebrhatu Gebremariam who represents the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM) / EPRDF.
The board chairperson, Professor Merga Bekana said that the technical team of the board decided to postpone the election after assessing the zone is not safe to conduct a fair and free election.
“We have 547 election zones across the country. We face a problem only in Gimbo zone. Some technical problems arise in the zone. The election will be held in a short time after we solve the problem,” the chair said. The chairperson declined to say what exactly caused the suspension.
“We have to look at the big picture. The preparation we made to conduct a fair and peaceful election is good. In some countries election districts are suspended not to conduct an election, but in our case, it is one zone and it is not necessary to give high attention. It is very easy to solve.”
It is suspected the ban came after supporters of the two contestants clashed early this week with instant clashes occurring intermittently.
Asked how the board will handle the situation if ambiguity arises over the general election results, Professor Merga said that there is nothing to worry about.
“We are sure that controversies will not arise regarding the results as we have been working with all the contending parties, public election observers selected by citizens, and the Africa Union to discharge their responsibility carefully.”
“In case a controversy arises, we have a procedure on how to go about the situation and solve the problem fully respecting the electoral board’s principles and candidates’ interest.”
Results of the 5th round national election in which 58 parties are contending will be announced on June 22, 2015.