Ambassador Teferi’s Remarks at the Chatham House event on Ethiopia’s elections

3 Feb 2021

On 3rd February, Chatham House’s Africa Programme hosted a webinar on Ethiopia’s upcoming elections, which are scheduled to take place on 5th June 2021.

Panellists at the virtual event discussed preparations for the upcoming polls, whether the Federal Government will be able to deliver secure, free and fair elections under the current conditions, and the priority issues likely to be raised during the campaign period. They also reflected on the long-term trajectory of Ethiopia’s democratic transition.

The following is Ambassador Teferi’s remarks at the conclusion of the event.

——

[check against delivery]

Thank you, Chair.

I would like to start by expressing my gratitude to the distinguished panellists for their insights and to thank Chatham House for organising this important and timely platform for debate, as we approach the start of election season in Ethiopia.

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen,

As echoed by the panellists earlier, the context currently surrounding these historic elections, itself, represents a critical juncture in the modern history of Ethiopia.

A moment for this generation of Ethiopians to define the realities of the next.

Naturally, the expectations are high. And rightly so!

The sacrifices that heralded in the Ethiopian spring of 2018 demand as much.

Young people bled and died for the promise of a reformed society – an Ethiopia that would transition away from exclusionary oligarchy to participatory democracy.

This promise, and the transition that it has birthed, is too critical to be left unrealised.

The Government knows as much. There is no going back.

Though the detractors and cynics breathe life into the lungs of the voices of a bygone era, this transition is not easily dispelled.

It grew out of decades of frustration and grievance, stifled voices and resentment, cronyism, and unfulfilled hopes.

It has deep roots in the hearts of every Ethiopian – our hopes for our children and the promises we make them today about the country they will inherit.

However, we must acknowledge the challenges that persist.

For one, the Pandemic remains. Locusts as well.

So too, do the vestiges of those deposed forces bent on returning to power by any and all means. As seen more recently in the cases of Tigray and Benishangul Gumuz, these short-sighted purveyors of chaos are prepared to sacrifice the nation to advance their narrow interests.

That is why, as the election looms, the Government will continue to prioritise the safety and security of its citizens across the country.

By ensuring law and order in all regions of Ethiopia, the Government will uphold its duty to establish the peace necessary for a secure pre and post-election environment.

Alongside these activities, the Government, together with its partners, will ensure that the Election Board receives all the support it requires to fulfil its constitutional mandate. Furthermore, the Government will continue to facilitate the uninterrupted dialogue between political parties ahead of polling day – to build greater trust, communication, and a common understanding between competitors.

We also call on our partners in the international community, including here in the UK, to stand in solidarity with us in the challenges to come.

As we all know, Ethiopia is a regional anchor.  With delicate transitions ongoing in Sudan, Somalia, and South Sudan, it is vital that our own transition, and the upcoming election, succeed.

Serving as an inspiration and a beacon to the ongoing reforms in those countries.

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen,

Notwithstanding the current challenges we face, I remain confident that the Ethiopia that lies on the horizon, is one of hope.

It is now up to Ethiopians, up and down the country, from Axum to Moyale, Jijiga to Gambela, to capture this moment.

To grasp this opportunity.

And to chart out a better present to hand over to future generations.

Thank you.

—ENDS—

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