Ethiopia’s next national elections are set to take place in May 2015. Now is the time to commence political reforms designed to avoid a repeat of flawed elections in 2010 (national) and 2013 (local). In both years, EPRDF totally controlled the electoral process, capturing more than 99 percent of the legislative seats nationwide. Elections provide an opportunity to encourage citizens to show greater participation in political processes. Therefore, EPRDF should use the next elections to start taking concrete measures to ensure that political parties, civil society and the media operate freely and make their respective contributions to make the process transparent, free and credible.
In particular, the Government of Ethiopia should:
- Release all political prisoners including journalists, civic activists and bloggers.
- Amend the restrictive provisions of the CSP and subsequent directives, particularly those restricting foreign funding for human rights work and improperly classify programming efforts as administrative expenses.
- Refraining from using laws like the antiterrorism proclamation to persecute journalists and human rights defenders in connection with their work.
- Eliminate barriers that prohibit legitimate opposition groups from freely organizing public events and reaching out to their constituencies.
- Encourage open and all-inclusive dialogue on key political and governance issues by granting all voices unfettered access to state-owned media and other public platforms, including the internet.