Supporting Elections for Ethiopia’s Democracy Strengthening (SEEDS)
The main objectives of the project are to a) assist the electoral management body in becoming a more capable, transparent and ultimately, trusted institution; and b) provide the assistance necessary for inclusive, transparent and credible elections. The project supports the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) in ensuring the participation of all groups including women, youth, ethnic groups from all regions in the elections as a key feature for a credible and inclusive process. Credible and inclusive elections would result in a more trustful relationship among the political forces and within the population, which would have a positive impact on sustaining peace, stabilization, democratization and development .
Output 1: The transparency, efficiency and inclusiveness of the electoral operations are enhanced through the operational support provided to NEBE. Indicators are for example:
- 9 regulatory and procedural instruments revised to support NEBE’s mandate to facilitate the electoral reform
- 33% of women, minority representatives and youth recruited among the staff for voter registration and polling
- 75% of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) registered as voters
- Operational procedures for a new (inclusive and transparent) election Results Management System are developed
- 100% of polling stations receive voting material i.e. ballot boxes, voting booths, ink
- 15 post-electoral capacity-building trainings for permanent election officials conducted at federal and regional levels
Output 2: The capacity of NEBE for public outreach and external communication, is enhanced
- 100% of elections officials trained on media communications, disaggregated by sex
- 100% of candidates/Political parties registered
- 115 trainings conducted by NEBE for political parties, media, womens' organisations, CSOs and domestic observers
- A comprehensive civic and voter education strategy is developed, with a specific focus on women and young people (first time voters)
Output 3: The capacity of NEBE and other key stakeholders to identify, manage and respond to electoral violence enhanced
- A responsive, efficient and credible NEBE-based monitoring and early response system is designed and implemented with precise procedures drafted.
- 20 Joint Election Operation Centers are established and staff is trained on the identification, reporting of events of electoral violence and conflict resolution protocols.
- Electoral Dispute Resolution (EDR) framework developed in line with relevant legislations, ensuring equal access of voters and candidates to EDR mechanisms
- 100% of disputes/complaints/cases raised receive timely treatment.
The direct beneficiaries are NEBE staff and staff of its 11 Branch Offices and election officials, as well as state and non-state institutions playing an essential role in elections, such as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), political parties, courts, law enforcement and security forces, media (an estimated 232.500 direct beneficiaries in total, of which 5,510 will be reached with the Austrian contribution). Special emphasis is put on women, persons with disabilities and IDPs. An estimated 50 to 60 million Ethiopian citizens form the entire electorate (indirect beneficiaries). The implementing Partner is UNDP. The support will be channelled via NEBE.
a) strengthening the NEBE as a cohesive institution, in the context of its decentralization process, with all its units and departments working towards common goals and objectives; b) enhancing public trust and confidence in the Board and its ability to operate professionally, independently and efficiently, which may involve, among other things, introducing/strengthening various systems, procedures, standards, tools and protocols; c) building staff capacities to obtain the required knowledge and skills and demonstrate confidence in electoral processes, particularly in applying any newly adopted technologies; d) enabling NEBE to effectively interact with the media and communicate with the electorate in a more transparent and timely fashion; e) supporting NEBE and through it other relevant stakeholders in detecting and resolving election related disputes; and f) complementing NEBE’s voter education programmes that promote informed voting and inclusive participation of all segments of society, including women, youth and IDPs, CSOs and political parties
The last elections held in Ethiopia were in May 2015. Among the last five elections, only the 2005 election was characterized by improved political space and competition between political parties. Dissatisfaction had been building for several years and spurred since 2015 into civil unrest, street protests and violence. Sustained ethnic/boundary-related tensions and the increasing number of IDPs in the country mean that the potential for electoral disputes is high. 2018 has been a pivotal year for Ethiopia’s transition and has marked a new era in the relationship of the State with the People. Ensuring participation and inclusion in development and governance processes are key challenges Ethiopia is facing today. While the gender gap in leadership at the most upper echelons of power has been addressed (50 percent women ministers), the gender gap remains high at various decision-making levels (in the civil service at federal level and in regional and local administrations). The absence of a culture of electoral competition and the lack of experience in accepting electoral defeat are potential drivers of conflict. A deliberate effort will have to be made by the political leadership to prevent escalations. There is limited capacity and experience of the NEBE and of law enforcement agencies to address these challenges.