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An observer of Ethiopian politics of the last decade of the 20th century can notice several stricking characteristics. First, majority of political parties are formed along ethnic lines, which is the post-Dergue policy of the government. Ethnic division goes deep into intellectual grounds and now bwcame politicized.
Second, the terminology. The rulling and party and the opposition are avoiding any mentioning of actual ideology behind the parties. Again, the majority of them are socialist and communist in nature. Marxism is alive and well in Ethiopia. No wonder that the attemps at free market economy have so many obstacles!
I post the news for a record; year or two later the problems will become obvious for many.
GeoAlaska: Theatre & Film
The Ethiopian Human Rights Congress has trained 130 election observers for the 14 May elections in which voters will choose a federal parliament, nine regional assemblies and council members for the capital and the eastern city of Dire Dawa, according to a press statement. It is only the second time Ethiopians have had such elections, previously held in 1994 and dominated by candidates from the ruling EPRDF (Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front) and surrogate parties.
The EPRDF won a landslide victory in 1995 elections but they were marred by a boycott from almost all the country's opposition groups.
This time the main opposition parties are among 17 doing battle against the 22 parties in the ruling alliance.
The EPRDF is expected to score a comfortable victory across most of the country but the vote should be closer in southern and central areas.
Ethiopia, whose history and culture stretch back 3,000 years, has 80 different ethnic groups and most of its political parties are ethnically based.
Ethiopia's opposition seeks to unite ahead of elections
ADDIS ABABA, May 13 (AFP) -
Ethiopia's opposition parties will try to put their differences behind them in Sunday's general elections in a bid to defeat the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
While the opposition parties may back the government over the war with Eritrea, there has in the past been plenty of bitter political in-fighting within their own ranks on a range of issue.
Eritrean and Ethiopian forces resumed fighting Friday, two years to the day after their conflict first flared up.
The opposition, often organised along ethnic lines, ranges from supporters of a federal system to backers of a single, centralised state; from advocates for widespread privatisation to confirmed state interventionists.
In a bid to tackle their political differences, eight parties have created a coordinating committee for the general election campaign. It was set up on the initiative of Merera Gudina's Oromo National Congress (ONC).
There is, however, little question that the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), will retain its majority.
But some opposition activists have said that campaign is nevertheless an opportunity to highlight what is wrong with the government.
The campaign period has been marked by a degree of liberty hitherto unseen in the country. For the first time the opposition has had access to radio and television.
While many opposition members welcome these changes, they point out that it is not enough. Nor is it the whole story.
Opposition politicians have still complained of harassment, intimidation and detention during the campaign.
They also protest that they had little time to organise their election campaign and take it outside the country's main towns once they were cleared by the National Election Board.
The All-Amhara People's Organisation (AAPO) has accused the government of having closed their regional offices in Amhara and Centre.
The ONC, which spearheaded the drive to unite the opposition, is a rival to the Oromo People's Democratic Organisation (OPDO), part of the ruling EPRDF.
It also sees itself as an alternative to the armed separatist Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), defending the rights of the Oromo people, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. The ONC has 35 candidates at federal and 43 at regional level.
The All-Amhara People's Organisation (AAPO) on the other hand, is pushing for a single, indivisible Ethiopian state, opposing any ethnically based federalism.
The AAPO has several times made the point that it is only taking part because it would lose its legally constituted status if it failed to take part in two elections running. It has 17 candidates at federal level and 32 regionally.
The Coalition of Alternative Forces for Peace and democracy in Ethipia (CAFPDE) is made up of five small parties, the main participant being Dr. Beyene Petros' Southern Ethiopian People's Democratic Coalition (SEPDC).
It takes an ultra-liberal line, calling for greater political autonomy, privatisation of land and the freeing of the economy from state intervention. The SEPDC is presenting 37 candidates at national level and 45 regionally.
Petros' leadership of the CAFPDE has been challenged by other Coalition members but was confirmed by the National Election Board.
The Ethiopian Democratic Unity Party (EDUP), set up by the former Ethiopian aristocracy, is presenting 13 candidates nationally and 18 in the regions. It advocates a federal system, though not along ethnic lines.
Finally, political newcomers the Ethiopia Democratic Party (EDP) is backing land reform to benefit the peasants. It is presenting 15 candidates nationally and 37 for the regional council.
More than 20.2 million Ethiopians, some 75 percent of those of voting age, are registered to take part in the poll, which will be held in 26,000 voting stations across the country.
More than 3,200 candidates, including 490 independents and others drawn from 50 political parties, will contest the election, the second since the current constitution came into force in August 1995.
Candidates are vying for places in the legislatures of eight of the federal republic's nine states and its administrative regions such as Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa in the east.
Candidates will also contest 548 seats in the the Chamber of Representatives, the federal legislature, except for the 23 seats reserved for the southeastern Somali region. The drought there means elections have been postponed.
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