In Atlanta, 404-420-5129
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA The Carter Center's May 16 postelection statement, based on observations of the polling process in Addis Ababa and selected locations in eight regions, expressed some concerns and noted that for the first time in history the majority of Ethiopian voters were presented with choices when they went to the polls. The overwhelming turnout on voting day demonstrated the vibrancy of democratic yearnings by the population, and the Center hopes these gains will be reinforced to provide stronger democratic institutions in Ethiopia.
The Center, though, is concerned with reports it has received about the vote counting and tabulation process and has investigated a number of these reports from regional polling places and constituencies. So far, our teams have concentrated travel to 36 constituencies in three regions where we have heard reports of problems, and so they do not represent a random set of national observations.
In places we have found evidence that ballot boxes have been moved improperly, were improperly secured, or that party agents were barred from polling stations or were not allowed to watch the entire count. Our observers have received, and in some cases have been able to confirm, reports of election day and postelection intimidation and harassment. In some cases our observers report that NEB personnel have been slow to mobilize in investigating charges of electoral problems. In addition, in some of the areas visited in the postelection period, observers have experienced difficulty accessing information from local NEB officials.
We do not have the capacity to investigate every allegation nor is this a purpose of an electoral observation mission. It is the obligation of the electoral authorities to provide a fair and transparent process including the counting and tabulation. The question is not whether international observers or political parties "prove" that the count was improper, but whether the National Election Board can demonstrate the voting, counting, and tabulation processes were fair and transparent and all legitimate complaints were properly addressed. We have shared our observations with the NEB chairman and have been assured by him these issues will be investigated and that all NEB staff are expected to act in a transparent manner at all times.
Ethiopia stands at a critical juncture where the tremendous strides toward democracy made this year either may be seized upon and institutionalized or wasted. We call upon all concerned-the contending parties, media, civil society organizations, and the international community-to support the NEB in bringing this historic election to a fitting conclusion. Where inevitable disputes arise, we call for their peaceful resolution through appropriate legal channels.
As the election process includes a pre-election period, polling day, and a postelection period, the Center has not yet made a final assessment. Once the entire process is completed, the Center will issue a comprehensive report on our findings.LEARN MORE: