Former US Official Cites Media Unfairness in Ethiopian Elections

June 1, 2010

He added, “In contrast to the 2005 election, this seems to be rather peaceful and administratively ok, so I think it is an improvement,” said Cohen, a specialist in African and European affairs.

He expressed doubt opposition complaints and their call for a new vote would amount to anything, but added “If the opposition rejects [the election] then it makes it difficult to consider the election legitimate.”

Cohen said despite the flaws it was important for the opposition to have taken part. “I always tell the opposition that if they do not participate then there is no reason for the government to commit fraud, so they should always participate and if there is fraud everyone will know.”

He said unlike the 2005 election, it is unlikely there will be violence.  

“In 2005, they (government) reacted to violence with lethal force and I think the opposition groups have a vivid memory of the results,” he said.

Also, the current top U.S. diplomat for Africa, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, said Tuesday the Ethiopian government took “clear and decisive steps” that ensured it would win the election.

Ethiopia’s ruling party claimed a landslide victory this week in the first vote since a brutal crackdown in 2005, but some observers and human rights groups say the election was heavily tilted in favour of the government. After the election results were announced on Tuesday, thousands of government supporters rallied in the streets of Addis Ababa, celebrating the victory.

Ethiopia’s opposition leaders are sceptical of the official results. One of the top opposition leaders, Hailu Shawel, said the election was “ridiculous” because it was completely controlled by the ruling party.  He told reporters Wednesday intimidation and fraud influenced Sunday’s elections.


3 comments on “Former US Official Cites Media Unfairness in Ethiopian Elections

  1. In 2010
    Free media time of 90.17 television hours, 495 radio hours, and 849 newspaper columns were allotted for political parties to use for 12 weeks of election campaign.
    Alas, the parties used only about half their free media time. The parties used only 61% the free TV air time, 51% of the radio hours, and 40% of the newspaper columns, according to the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority.

  2. Glad to hear about fairness from Heman Cohen.He created a monster, imposed it on poor Ethioians and now expect it to be fair?Or is he upto something again?

    God save Ethiopia.

  3. “unlike the 2005 election, it is unlikely there will be violence”. This is the reason why mr.herman and the like are saying the election was not fair. If you expected that it will never happened

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