Friday, May 13, 2005

Former President Carter Praises Ethiopia's Electoral Process


Photo Courtesy: (AFP/Marco Longari)
The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia chairman Kemal Bedri, left, greets former U.S. President Jimmy Carter

Former President Jimmy Carter says he has not seen a pattern of pre-election misconduct by the Ethiopian ruling party, as charged by the opposition and some international observers. Mr. Carter arrived in Ethiopia Thursday to lead a 50-member delegation from the Atlanta-based Carter Center to observe Sunday's national and regional elections. The elections are being seen as a key test of Ethiopia's commitment to democracy.

Responding to reporters' questions about allegations that officials from the ruling party and coalition allies have killed, intimidated, harassed, and arrested opposition politicians and supporters in the run-up to the polls, Mr. Carter says he believes such incidents have been isolated and are not part of a deliberate campaign by the government to weaken the opposition.

VOA News

Instead of investigating these incidents, Mr. Carter dismisses the charges as isolated incidents, but he questioned the expulsion of three American organisations that were promoting democracy in the country ahead of the elections.
The Ethiopian government claims that the elections demonstrate its commitment to democratic principles. But in the run-up to the elections, the authorities have intensified the repression they have used to keep themselves in power for 13 years.
-Peter Takirambudde, Executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division

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