EU Report Highlights Electoral Flaws

READ FULL REPORT IN [AMHARIC] [ ENGLISH] (Brussels, November 8, 2010) – The European Union’s election monitoring mission in Ethiopia issued its final report today on the May 2010 elections, condemning the electoral process as one that “fell short of international commitments.” Thijs Berman, a member of the European Parliament and the leader of the EU observer mission, presented the report in Brussels after being denied access to Ethiopia.

Human Rights Watch researchers documented a coordinated and sustained attack on political opponents, journalists, and rights activists by the Ethiopian government in the months before the elections. In the final weeks before the voting, Ethiopian officials and militia went house to house ordering citizens to register to vote.

Ethiopians were told to vote for the ruling party or face reprisals from local party officials, such as bureaucratic harassment or even losing their homes or jobs.

“The Ethiopian government has systematically clamped down on Ethiopians’ right to cast their ballots freely, express peaceful dissent, or even to organize,” said Leslie Lefkow, senior Horn of Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The facts speak for themselves: the government’s 99.6 percent victory in May and its refusal to even allow a critical EU report to be presented in Ethiopia betray its deep-rooted intolerance of dissent or criticism.”Since the country’s 2005 election, the ruling party has used its near-total control of local and district administrations to undermine opponents’ livelihoods by withholding services such as agricultural inputs, micro-credit, and job opportunities. Recently enacted laws severely restrict the activities of civil society and the media.Ethiopia receives more than US$3 billion annually in international development assistance.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Ethiopia’s May 2010 elections, please see:
• http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2010/03/24/one-hundred-ways-putting-pressure-0
• http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/05/24/ethiopia-government-repression-undermines-poll

To read the October 2010 Human Rights Watch report, “Development without Freedom: How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia,”please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/node/93605

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