Despite being Africa’s oldest independent nation, endowed with adequate natural resources and massive social capital, most people in the world associate Ethiopia with grotesque starvation and war. Indeed, these two unfortunate episodes have easily caught the attention of popular media such as CNN and BBC and the international community. But why is an equally important but rather positive episode not drawing as much attention?
On May 15, 2005, for the first time in the history of the country, some 25 million Ethiopians turned out to vote in the country’s historic parliamentary and regional assembly elections. The huge turnout was prompted by the participation of various political parties who presented an alternative political and economic agenda to people desperate for a change. International observers, including former president Jimmy Carter and his team, and the European Union team led by Ms. Anna Gomez, monitored voting in some of the polling stations. The observers admired the general discipline and peaceful participation of the public, while at the same time highlighting some of the irregularities in the polling stations that they visited.
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