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Cablegate: Ethiopian Parliament Approves Electoral Code Of

VZCZCXRO4950
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDS #3010 3580825
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 240825Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7265
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 3463
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1973
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEPADJ/CJTF HOA
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS ADDIS ABABA 003010

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM ET
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES ELECTORAL CODE OF
CONDUCT

REF: ADDIS ABABA 2624

1. (U) On December 22, the Ethiopian Parliament passed a new
electoral code of conduct into law, following more than three
months of negotiations between the ruling Ethiopian Peoples'
Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and opposition
political parties, and a further two months of review in
Parliament. No substantive changes were made to the code of
conduct during review and drafting of implementing
legislation by the Legal and Administrative Affairs Standing
Committee and the full House of Peoples' Representatives.
During parliamentary debate, several Members of Parliament
from the opposition Ethiopian Federalist Democratic Unity
Forum (Forum, formerly Forum for Democratic Dialogue)
objected to the bill on the basis that it contravened the
constitutional mandate of the National Electoral Board of
Ethiopia (NEBE), and was therefore unconstitutional.

2. (SBU) To date, 65 political parties have signed the code
of conduct. The Forum has not signed the code of conduct,
and according to Oromo People's Congress (OPC) Chairman
Merera Gudena will not sign unless the EPRDF agrees to hold
bilateral discussions with the Forum. During parliamentary
discussion EPRDF whip Hailemariam Desalegne stated that
political parties that do not sign the code of conduct will
not be permitted to present complaints to the joint electoral
council of political parties established by the new law,
according to opposition Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement
(OFDM) party chairman Bulcha Demeksa and Unity for Democracy
and Justice (UDJ) executive committee member Temesgen Zewdie.
In a public statement, Hailemariam said the law allows all
opposition political parties to participate in resolving
problems arising from the election process.

3. (SBU) Comment: The EPRDF whip's comments during
presentation of the bill roughly correspond to presidential
signing statements in the U.S. in that they indicate how the
government may enforce the legislation. If the government
holds all political parties to the now legally binding code
of conduct, but does not allow parties who have not signed it
to benefit from the investigative and arbitration procedures
it establishes, non-signatory parties will surely cry foul.
The Forum continues to maintain that it will not sign the
code of conduct unless the EPRDF agrees to hold bilateral
discussions, and it is highly unlikely the EPRDF will agree
to this, having refused to do so for over five months. End
comment.
MUSHINGI

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