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Cablegate: Election Herald 9: Elections Fulfill Eprdf Prophecy

VZCZCXRO5292
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #1111 1140613
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 230613Z APR 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0375
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHINGTON DC 0113

UNCLAS ADDIS ABABA 001111

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/E, DRL FOR SJOSEPH
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER
CJTF-HOA AND CENTCOM FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KJUS KDEM PGOV ET
SUBJECT: ELECTION HERALD 9: ELECTIONS FULFILL EPRDF PROPHECY

REF: ADDIS 1065 (AND PREVIOUS)

1. (SBU) April 20 marked the second round of polling in
Ethiopia's local elections and will decide the make-up of the
thousands of kebele (district) administrations, as well as
the few remaining federal parliamentary by-elections seats
not chosen in the first round. As was the case on the April
13 polling date (reftel), an informal windshield tour of
roughly 30 polling stations revealed few voters. Despite
National Electoral Board (NEB) claims of 70 percent turnout
on April 20, the only notable crowds on the streets of Addis
Ababa were the many churchgoers celebrating Orthodox Palm
Sunday where the number of palm crowns far overshadowed the
prevalence of indelible ink by a wide margin.

2. (SBU) As expected, the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces
(UEDF), as well as the Oromo Federal Democratic Movement
(OFDM) and the Afari Liberation Front (ALF) parties - both of
which participated in the first round, but later withdrew due
to reported harassment of observers and candidates - sat out
the second round. In the last week, the NEB has repeatedly
stated that it was illegal for the OFDM and ALF to withdraw
from the elections after taking part in the initial round,
saying that it would "take note and declare its decision (on
how to respond) to the country." OFDM leader Bulcha Demeksa
told Poloff on April 18 that he has information that the
EPRDF is planning on taking punitive action against the OFDM
for the pull-out, speculating that he will soon lose his
Addis Ababa offices as well as recognition as a party block
in Parliament and thus, the right to address Parliament.
(NOTE: 10 seats are need to be recognized as a party block in
Parliament. Though the OFDM had won 12 seats in 2005, they
have since lost three people due to defection and one due to
death. Nevertheless, to-date they have retained their status
in Parliament. END NOTE.)

3. (SBU) The NEB has indicated that all official results will
be declared by May 18. However, media reports over the
weekend stated that, following the April 13 voting, the
ruling Ethiopian Peoples' Revolutionary Democratic Front
(EPRDF) had won 137 of the 138 Addis Ababa city
administration seats (the Coalition for Unity and Democracy
Party (CUDP) won the other due to the absence of an EPRDF
candidate), as well as all 14 of the federal Parliamentary
bi-election seats. This is a complete reversal from the 2005
election in which the CUD won 137 seats in the Addis Ababa
City Council (the EPRDF one) and all of the 14 federal MP
seats now up for election.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: Though the election results published over
the weekend are unofficial, they are probably accurate and
will likely reflect the EPRDF's success in the elections
throughout the country, with even the quasi-opposition
parties fairing poorly. As the opposition parties had chosen
to refrain from fielding candidates for the April 20 kebele
council elections, the OFDM and ALF boycott was purely
symbolic rather than an actual withdrawal of candidates.
Nevertheless, Post believes that the NEB may take advantage
of their decision to strip administratively the parties of
their legal party registration as the NEB has previously done
to the Oromo National Congress in December 2005 and the CUDP
in January 2007. There have been no public protests thus far
and limited criticism of the elections in the media. Post
still believes that public demonstrations or violence upon
publishing official results is very unlikely.
YAMAMOTO

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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