On 8 June 2021, Coalition of Ethiopian Civil Societies for Elections (CECOE) in collaboration with European Center for Electoral Support (ECES) convened a consultative forum on the theme: Elections during COVID-19: Learning from Voter Registration, Preparing for Election Day. The participants of the forum were comprised of civil societies, media representatives, government agencies and international organizations.
The event was kicked-off by an opening speech of Abera H/mariam, CECOE’s acting director. In his opening remarks, the acting director highlighted CECOE’s major activities in the areas of election observation and voter education. The coalition has trained and prepared over 3000 observers who will be deployed on the election day. With regards to voters’ education, CECOE has managed to reach close to 50 million Ethiopians through television, radio, newspaper and social media ads, Abera added.
The first presentation at the forum was presented by Biniam Abate, Elections Coordinator at CECOE. The issue of COVID-19 has been given a due emphasis in CECOE’s preliminary report, detailing precautionary measures taken to prevent the spread of the pandemic and gaps that were worth considering during voter registration.
Highlights of the finding
• 28% officials wore masks- SOME OF THE TIME.
• Covid-19 officers weren’t present in 89% of the registration locations
• 63% of registration locations did not have hand washing stations.
• 60% of the observed registration locations lacked hand gloves
• 14% of the registration locations CECOE visited, electoral officials DID NOT WEAR FACEMASKS
The other two presenters from the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), Dr Iman Abdulkader; Dr. Wondwossen Eshetu, advisor at Ministry of Helath (MoH) elucidated over the government’s strategy to hold the elections with less or no transmission of the virus during the electoral process. The representative from ministry of health, in particular, expressed concerns on the lack of political commitment among government agencies and officials. “Politics and health are two different things. If we don’t take all the necessary precautionary measures at the right time, we will get in a big trouble. India is a good example for this,” said Dr. Wondwossen.
The Coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations for Elections (CECOE) is a broad-based network embracing more than 175 civil society organizations operating in the ten regional states and the two city administrations, Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa. CECOE attained its legal status on February 4, 2020 and obtained its certificate of registration No.4748 from the Agency for Civil Society Organizations (ACSO).