Ethiopia will hold elections for the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HoPR) and regional councils on June 21. The International Republican Institute (IRI) and National Democratic Institute (NDI) are conducting a joint limited election observation mission to provide the citizens of Ethiopia and the international community with an impartial and accurate assessment of the election environment and offer constructive recommendations based on international and regional standards for democratic elections and consistent with Ethiopian law. Due to the constraints imposed by the global health crisis, the mission is being conducted using systematic remote engagement in accordance with the precepts set out in the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation for independent impartial assessments and regional instruments to which Ethiopia is a signatory, including the African Union (AU) Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa.
This Election Watch is a follow-up to the NDI/IRI Virtual Pre-Election Assessment Delegation (VPEAD) report released May 13 that offered analysis of the pre-election environment and preparations for the elections. The press release and report can be found on NDI and IRI web sites respectively. This update is based on in-depth virtual interviews conducted from April 26 through May 31, 2021, with a wide array of key electoral and political stakeholders, including senior representatives of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), government agencies, political parties, civil society organizations (CSOs), media, citizen election observers and the diplomatic community, as well as drawing upon both Institutes’ expertise and relationships in Ethiopia. In light of the mission’s virtual methodology, the scope of our observations is limited, and our reports do not draw conclusions on the overall election process.
The joint IRI/NDI delegation noted that “Ethiopia’s 2021 elections, scheduled for June 5, could be an opportunity for building on recent reforms and developing more inclusive, transparent and accountable governance in the country. However, significant difficulties, including widespread insecurity and ethnic conflicts, delays in National Electoral Board of Ethiopia’s (NEBE’s) candidate and voter registration procedures, poor cooperation from some state governments, boycotts and threats of boycotts by several political parties with broad constituencies, as well as the COVID-19 public health crisis, threaten the ability of voters and parties to participate in the process and, thereby, the potential for credible elections. Serious and concerted efforts prior to Election Day by all stakeholders are necessary to hold meaningful elections and lay the groundwork for national reconciliation and democratic progress beyond the elections.”