(UNPO) Cartoon Democracy – Authoritarian Rule and Elections in Ethiopia

From: Biniam Tekle <biniamt_at_dehai.org_at_dehai.org>
Date: Sat, 11 Apr 2015 18:23:22 -0400


April 23, 2015

European Parliament Conference: Cartoon Democracy – Authoritarian Rule
and Elections in Ethiopia

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), in
cooperation with Julie Ward MEP (S&D), Soraya Post MEP (S&D), Ana
Gomes MEP (S&D), Jordi Sebastià MEP (G/EFA) and the Ogaden National
Liberation Front (ONLF), will be convening a high-level conference
entitled ‘Cartoon Democracy – Authoritarian Rule and Elections in
Ethiopia’ at the European Parliament in Brussels on 23 April 2015 from
09:00 to 12:30. Taking place ahead of the Ethiopian National Election
on 24 May 2015, this timely conference will analyse the current
political climate in Ethiopia and the deeper structural issues shaping
it. Bringing together Ethiopian minority and opposition leaders as
well as international experts and politicians, it aims to offer a
platform for dialogue where existing challenges can be openly
addressed and possible opportunities for democratic change explored.

In May 2010, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front
(EPRDF) won a landslide victory in the Parliamentary elections, taking
99.6% of the votes and all but two of the 547 seats. The European
Union Election Observer Mission to Ethiopia (EU EOM) later noted that
there had been a distinct lack of transparency during the electoral
process and that the political parties had not been afforded a level
playing field during their electoral campaigns. On 24 May 2015, the
country will be called to vote again to renew its Parliament, but at
this point a different outcome seems highly unlikely.

The 2015 election comes at a time when the Ethiopian economy has made
great strides: with near double-digit GDP growth over the past decade
and large-scale infrastructural development, it is one of Africa’s
fastest-growing. However, the country’s human rights record remains
appalling. While the Ethiopian Constitution provides for many civil
and political rights for its people, including the process of open and
genuinely democratic elections, in practice the central government
keeps a grip on political and social freedoms using the argument of
protecting national security as a pretext to impose severe
restrictions on the media and NGOs. Moreover, the Ogaden and Oromo
people, among other ethnic minority groups in Ethiopia, are targeted
with extra-judicial killings, torture, sexual violence, arbitrary
detention and enforced disappearances.

Particularly alarming are accounts claiming that the Ethiopian
government is funding its ethnic persecution with foreign aid
designated for development projects. Ethiopia represents the fourth
largest recipient of EU aid finance in the world and the EU is
currently the country’s single largest trade partner. Consequently,
the EU has significant leverage over the regime, which in turn
represents an opportunity and responsibility to encourage the
Government to be more accountable, promote freedom of speech, develop
democratic institutions and respect human rights and the rule of law.

For further information about the event please contact the UNPO
Secretariat in Brussels at j.demeulder_at_unpo.org or +32 25 13 14 59. To
attend the event please fill out this registration formby Sunday 19
April 2015.

For media enquiries please contact:

Johanna Green
+32 251 31459 • j.green_at_unpo.org
Received on Sat Apr 11 2015 - 18:24:02 EDT

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