Ethiopia’s Election: ‘Africa’s Largest Exercise of Political Theatre’

An election rally staged by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front in Addis Ababa. There is widespread public indifference about the poll. (Photograph: Tiksa Negeri/Reuters)

The Guardian

By Daniel Calingaert and Kellen McClure

Ethiopia’s election is a wake-up call on human rights and sound governance

On Sunday, millions of Ethiopians will line up at polling stations to participate in Africa’s largest exercise of political theatre. A decade-long campaign by Ethiopia’s government to silence dissent forcibly has left the country without a viable political opposition, without independent media, and without public challenges to the ruling party’s ideology.

For most Ethiopians, these elections are a non-event.

Ethiopia’s elections are just an exercise in controlled political participation

The one potential dividend of these sham polls, however, is the international attention they will garner for the government’s growing political repression. The blatant disregard for internationally recognised standards for free and fair elections just might convince Ethiopia’s largest donors that it is time to rethink their relationship with an increasingly authoritarian government.

As long as democratic governance and respect for human rights are pushed aside by donors in favour of economic development and security cooperation, Ethiopia’s long-term stability is at serious risk.

Read more at The Guardian »

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