Historic 2020 Elections Represent Hope on the Horizon

30 Aug 2019

Ethiopia is heading for a historic National Election in May 2020, expected to be the freest, fairest and most inclusive ever held in the country.

Ethiopia, with a population of over 105 million people, has a fixed-term parliament system with elections held every five years. A bicameral system consisting of the House of People’s Representatives with 547 constituency members (MPs), and the House of Federation, ensures the representation of minorities from all constituencies based on population size.

Significant reforms undertaken over the last 18 months have seen government critics released from jail and armed opposition movements in exile, previously designated as ‘terror’ groups, allowed back home, where many have already engaged in peaceful politics ahead of their participation in next year’s elections.

Encouraged by this broadening of the political space, donors have heralded their support. On 18th June, the United Nations Development Programme signed a $40 million project document to strengthen the institutional capacity of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) to deliver on its mandate to enhance public trust and confidence in the election process. This multi-partner programme, “Supporting Elections for Ethiopia’s Democracy Strengthening” (SEEDS), this month, received a $3 million donation from the Japanese government for the procurement of transparent ballot boxes and indelible ink markers to avoid double voting, thereby enhancing credibility and transparency.

Back in May, when Jeremy Hunt MP, the UK’s former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, was in Ethiopia for World Press Freedom Day, he announced £15.5 million of UK support to help Ethiopia “run transparent, free and fair elections.” In June, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his appreciation for Ethiopia’s grassroots approach, welcomed significant reforms and praised the plans to hold an election. $1 million in funding has since been approved to support the 2020 elections and will be provided through UNDP.

On the technical side, former opposition leader and outspoken critic, Birtukan Mideksa, now heading up the NEBE, following her appointment by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, commands the highest esteem from Ethiopian society and will be trusted to ensure that the election process is fully free and fair.

Birtukan Mideksa (right) is sworn in as chairperson of NEBE in November 2018

Ethiopia has more than 110 political parties representing the diverse interests of millions of Ethiopians across the length and breadth of the country.

Over a hundred parties have been engaged in successive consultations with the Government and the Electoral Board in anticipation of next year’s polls. This is testament to the widening political space and appetite for democratisation felt across society since the coming to power of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in April 2018.

Political parties are free to express their views and outline their policies without censorship, and, in an effort to ensure a level playing field, will benefit from the provision of election funding from the Government and guaranteed access to state media to broadcast their manifestos. In fact, many opposition parties have already engaged in fundraising and campaigning, holding town hall meetings and consultations as part of their warm-up for the vote next year.

The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling coalition headed by Prime Minister Abiy, in a recent regular meeting of its Executive Committee, outlined its own commitment to hold the vote next year, whilst welcoming the continuation of consultations with political parties on the finer details of the poll.

Furthermore, the Ethiopian House of People’s Representatives in their extraordinary meeting on 24th August 2019 approved a proclamation on electoral and political parties. The Bill is expected to better facilitate the conduct of future elections by supporting the development of robust political parties in the country.

With preparations afoot across the political spectrum, this historic election holds the promise of embedding a truly inclusive and participatory democracy in Ethiopia for the long haul. However, to meet these aspirations, all stakeholders must capitalise on the public’s appetite for change and reform to drive Ethiopia forward towards the hope on the horizon.

Latest News

Browse all
Ethiopia has consistently championed the right of all countries on the Nile to equitably and reasonably utilise its waters. Ethiopia has remained an unflinching advocate for greater cooperation, negotiation and compromise on the Nile, in particular - a hallmark of our approach to all international challenges.
1 Nov 2019
Editorial: Technical Talks on GERD must and will succeed
On 29th October Ambassador Fesseha briefed an audience comprised of diplomats, civil servants, researchers and members at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) in London, on Ethiopia’s domestic reforms and priorities in the Horn of Africa.
31 Oct 2019
Ambassador gives Briefing at Institute for Strategic Studies
British quadruple amputee, Alex Lewis, Ethiopian double amputee Emebet Dires, accompanied by the Wild Wheelchairs Project team successfully reached the Ras Dashen Summit at 4,533 metres on 6th October.
31 Oct 2019
THEY DID IT! UK and Ethiopian amputee duo ascend Ethiopia’s highest mountain
The 12th Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) - the leading forum for international exchange and collaboration in social entrepreneurship and social investment - was held in Addis Ababa from 23rd–25th October, the first time the forum was held in a developing country.
28 Oct 2019
Ethiopia successfully hosts the Social Enterprise World Forum
In a statement following protests in the Oromia Region on 23rd October, Prime Minister Abiy expressed his profound sorrow at the loss of lives and destruction of property, including churches and mosques. He stressed that his government is always ready to ensure the rule of law and bring those responsible to justice.
26 Oct 2019
Prime Minister’s statement on protests in Oromia region of Ethiopia
Ambassador Fesseha was presented with the BRAAD Award (British Award for African Development) for "The Embassy with Outstanding International Relations in 2019" at a ceremony hosted by the patron of the awards and the British Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Ethiopia, Mr Jeremy Lefroy MP.
25 Oct 2019
Embassy receives BRAAD Award for “Outstanding International Relations”
On 23rd October 2019, H.E. Ambassador Fesseha Shawel Gebre, was invited to Buckingham Palace by Her Majesty The Queen to formally present his credentials. In a ceremony, which is steeped in tradition and royal pageantry, Ambassador Fesseha was accompanied by his wife, Mrs Asegedech Amberber, and four senior diplomats.
24 Oct 2019
Ambassador Fesseha presents his credentials to Her Majesty The Queen
On 19th October, the sold-out international premier of Ethiopian film, Enchained, was held in London in the presence of the film’s director, Dr Moges Tafesse and leading actor Zerihun Mulatu. Enchained is a new Ethiopian historical and fictional film that explores the traditional justice system and its effects.
23 Oct 2019
Habeshaview – bringing Ethiopian film to London theatres
With the introduction of the e-Visa service back in June 2017, Ethiopia has opened its doors for foreign visitors wider than ever before. More than 200,000 people from 217 countries have visited Ethiopia so far using the e-visa service.
21 Oct 2019
More than 200,000 visitors arrive in Ethiopia on e-Visa
The annual 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair was held at Somerset House in London. This year, Ethiopian representation included Aida Muluneh and Addis Fine Art. Elsewhere at the fair, works by Ethiopian artist, Elias Sime, were also on display.
20 Oct 2019
Ethiopia at the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair
We are delighted to announce that Ethiopia will take part in this year’s World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, scheduled to take place from Monday 4th November – Wednesday 6th November at ExCeL London.
17 Oct 2019
Ethiopia at World Travel Market, London