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Op/Ed

 

Yesterday, 5 October 2015, the new Ethiopian parliament was officially opened. The best depiction that captured the essence of this new parliament is its paramount role to the consolidation of electoral authoritarianism in Ethiopia. The parliament got its mandate from a general election held on 24th May 2015. The electiontook place in a context where the ruling party massively manipulated state resources and institutions and established structures of political control down to each household level, especially in the rural areas. There were also substantiated cases of harassment, intimidation, imprisonment and extra-judicial killings of opposition party members including candidates both in the pre and post-election period. As a result, the ruling party and its affiliates claimed to have won 100 per cent of the parliament seats. Hence the entire processes of the election were nothing but a practices of putting a democratic mask to an authoritarian face.     

Monday July 6, 2015 was an important milestone in a court case that has been simmering since Ethiopia’s crackdown on Muslim protestors that began on July 19th 2012. The trial that followed became yet another high profile court case involving the government and a group of individuals; only this time the latter are no journalists, bloggers or opposition political party members; they are no ordinary citizens either. Many of them include members of an arbitration committee who volunteered to seek solutions to bridge the widening gap between the Muslims and the government in Ethiopia that started surfacing in December 2011.

 

Much to the expectation of curious spectators of Ethiopia’s current political affairs, the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) claimed a 100% win in the last general election held on May 24th 2015. When seen against the party’s own record since the first national election in 1995; the thinning global trend of an electoral tale of a 100% wins; and for lack of a better word, the current victory to the ruling EPRDF can safely be termed as nothing but “historic”.