In the process of voter registration for the 6th General Election, the biggest complaint is forwarded is on the ongoing voter registration process in the Somali region. In this process, parties operating in the region have filed petitions to the Board (Oromo National Liberation Front, Freedom and Equality Party, Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice Party, and a private candidate). Images and videos of the illegal registration process were also seen on social media. The Board met with the Media Monitoring Unit to view these images and videos.
The following are some of the major issues that have been addressed jointly and separately by the parties.
- Voter registration cards got into in the hands of those who were not legible to have it, and also cards were being distributed outside the polling stations.
- Incomplete voter registration cards were issued to the lower government level (kebele woreda) staff and candidates
- The ruling party's low-level staff members are heavily involved in the voter registration process. As a result, voter registration is not under the control of the Board.
- There is a question of impartiality as polling station workers are associated with government officials and candidates due to family relationships and other various ways
- Citizens suspected of being supporters of the opposition parties were barred from registering
- Voter registration cards were taken back from the hands of citizens who took the card
- The blue box for voters’ card was not properly sealed when it arrived at polling stations, indicating that it has been opened on its way. To support these grievances, written complaints, photos, videos and other evidences were provided.
Based on the complaints, the Board undertook the following actions.
- It held discussions with the petitioning political parties at the main office and in the region.
- A team of investigators led by the Deputy Chairman of the Board was sent to the region to discuss with polling station personnel, polling station workers, and other bodies.
- After reviewing the complaints and documents, a meeting was convened to make the following major decisions.
Decision of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia regarding voter registration in the Somali region
1. It has thoroughly examined the details of the complaints filed during the voter registration process, reviewed more than 150 blank and registered voter cards with the data on the voter registration system, and analyzed the video(with the translation) and images evidences against the complaints filed.
Recognizing that some of the trends observed in these processes may be due to the alleged misconduct, and realizing that there is enough information to start an investigation because of the serious doubts about the process, the board has decided to temporarily suspend voter registration in the following constituencies in the Somali region where serious voter registration irregularities have been reported.
- Arabi Constituency(Including Constituencies for Awbe and Denbel Town Constituencies)
- Deghamedo Constituency
- Gode Constituency (Including Adadle, Berano, Danan, East Imi, Elwine, Gode, Gudle Constituencies)
- Jigjiga 1 Constituency (for Regional Council of Jijiga, Jijiga Town, Tulu Gudle constituencies)
- Constituency of Kebri Dahar (Including Debewain, Kebri Dahar, Kebri Dahar City, Mersey, Shekosh and Shilolo Constituencies)
- Kelafo Constituency (Including constituency constituencies)
- Warder Constituency (Including Deratele and Warder constituencies for Regional Council)
2. When the voter registration process in the above mentioned constituencies is temporarily suspended, a guideline has been prepared on the action to be taken by the executives and the relevant board operations personnel to be applied accordingly.
3. A committee will be set up to look into the voter registration process in the above-mentioned constituencies, and will develop a technical specification guide on how to conduct the screening process to by conducted by a collaboration of complainant political parties, Board staff, and independent experts.
National Electoral Board of Ethiopia
May 8, 2021