May 28, 2019
The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has consulted with media professionals on the role of the media in democratic elections. The Board held a consultative workshop in collaboration with the European Union on 27 May 2019.
In her opening remarks, the chairperson of the board, Birtukan Mideksa, said the connection between the media and democratic elections is strong. She explained that the media has an irreplaceable role to play in democratic elections. She also stated “Various elections have taken place in our country. But we are working to make the next election better than the previous ones, and the media should play a greater role in providing information to the public, especially to the electorate". EU Commissioner Terry Lethnal, for his part, said the media played an important role in the election process. Recognizing that the media will cover the entire election cycle and control the census, he said this great responsibility should be carried out professionally and responsibly.
Presenting at the forum a paper on ‘Media and Election’, Solomon Goshu, a lawyer and media expert, said the election is a key role for democracy. He said there is no democracy just because there is an election. He explained that the election will be democratic when the media is free to report on the election process and fulfill their professional duties. If the media strengthens access to pre-election and election information and reports properly; by disseminating the information to the public, post-election disagreements and conflicts can be reduced. Therefore, he said the NEBE should work hard to fill the gaps by providing information to the media. Berhan Taye, presented the second article on “The Opportunities and Threats of Digital Media,” explains the impact of digital media, including social media, on the world, especially if it is not addressed responsibly during elections. She said that it would be of great benefit to public however if used properly.
The discussion was chaired by Salome Tadesse, who after explaining the issues raised, moderated the question and answers among the media professionals and the presenters. Soleyana Shimeles, Communication Advisor to the Board, explained on the matters of the process to make the board more accessible to the media, the Board's social media accounts, interview and provided information on permanent election reporters.
Finally, a press statement was issued by the Chairperson of the Board on the major works carried out in the last six months.