Voters in Afar regional state Photo: Afar Mass media agency

By Getahun Tsegaye @GetahunTsegay12

Addis Abeba, July 01/2021 – Four opposition parties (Afar People’s Party, Afar National Democratic Unity Party, Afar People Justice and Democracy Party and Afar Liberation Front Party) operating in Afar Regional State, voiced their complaints on the election process, the challenges they faced during election day and demanded re-election as a primary solution in a joint statement released on Tuesday June 29, 2021.

The statement read, “While other regions of Ethiopia are eagerly waiting for the result of the sixth national election, the people of Afar are not lucky enough to elect their leaders,” it continued, “Excruciating theft and cheating are crimes that were committed during the election against our people.”

The opposition parties in their joint statement claimed that unauthorized and unidentified individuals were in the possession of voter ID cards which were later distributed to selected voters on election day. In the statement the parties also complained that their observers were arrested, beaten and removed from different polling stations.

The statement added, disclosing further complaints, “Minors were casting votes, there were no appeal committees where we could have filed our complaints, and because polling station executives were not non-partisan, they were intimidating people to force them into electing the ruling party.” 

The statement further criticized Afar regional government and its leaders saying, “Despite the federal government allocating a big budget for the sixth national election, the regional leadership wasted these resources and recklessly endangered the integrity of the election.”

At the end of the two page statement,  opposition parties layed out their demands, demanding either a re-election or alternatives to what they described as an “unfair and undemocratic” process. The statement read, “The Council of Afar opposition parties demand either a re-election or an alternative solution due to the unfair and undemocratic election day practices.”

Concluding the two pages, the council of Afar opposition parties stressed on the need for swift action and stressed on the need for re-election explaining, “Because the process was unfair, the council demands a re-election.” 

Addis Standard spoke to Esmail Salih, Chief Secretary of Afar People’s Party about the process of the election. He said “Hassen Dawed, who was the head of the council of the opposition parties, told Afar Mass Media Agency that the election was fair and democratic. This statement is his opinion, not the council’s and we the council members denounced it.”

While answering a question by Addis Standard on whether or not the council registered their complaints with the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), Esmail disclosed that he was not sure if all the parties appealed their objections but his party did and was still waiting for the response from the electoral board.

Addis Standard’s repeated attempts to reach out the NEBE and Afar Regional State Communication Bureau for comments on the matter were  unsuccessful. AS

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