On 27 August 2021, top management members of Ethiopian Media Council visited the Coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations for Election – CECOE Media Monitoring Unit (MMU). The visiting delegation was composed of well-known media executives, inter alia, such as Amare Aregawi, founder and owner of the leading Ethiopian private newspaper ‘The Reporter’; Tamirat Hailu the founder and managing editor of Kumneger Media. The purpose of the visit was to forge a partnership whereby the two organizations share expertise and resources.
CECOE strongly believes that the media is one of the cornerstones of a solid democratic system. Taking this into account, CECOE’s MMU has been monitoring and analyzing election related media coverage of 7 selected media outlets. The selection was made based on their reach, legal status and linguistic diversity.
Public Televisions: ETV + ETV languages (only from 2 to 4 pm), Amhara Media C and OBN TV.
Private Televisions: Fana BC, Walta and OBS
The unit was set up with financial and technical support from European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES), one of CECOE’s key partners. With its 9 seasoned media professionals, the unit has been monitoring election media reports in 5 languages. During the election and post-election periods, the unit monitored hate speech or inflammatory language – either reported on or originating from the media themselves – to assess whether the media acted as agents of pacification or rather contributed to increase any potential tensions related to the elections. In order to understand and interpret the performance of the media, the monitors also observed the use of social media by political actors during the campaign.
During the visit the council’s representatives had a fruitful discussion with CECOE and ECES representatives on ways of capacitating media professionals in the areas of election reporting, good governance and media monitoring. Thus, an agreement was reached to organize a series of training and experience sharing forums.
On 6 September 2021, Coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations for Election – CECOE gave training of trainers to its lead trainers who will train election observers. The observers will observe the upcoming elections slated to be held in SNNPR, Somali and Harari regional states on 30 September 2021. The lead trainers have been trained on how to train short term observers to observe and report the election day process.
Checklists and critical incidents form are developed to enable the trainers and observers to capture raw data about the elections process in a systematic manner. On election day, the collected data will be sent to the Addis Ababa data center via text message for further analysis and data cleaning. Once the analysis and data cleaning processes are completed, CECOE will announce its observation findings to key stakeholders: National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), Media and Partners.
In the coming few weeks, the lead trainers will be travelling to each training location in the Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Region SNNPR, Harari and Somali regional states to provide trainings to observers.
It is to be recalled that in the first rounds of elections polling did not take place in some constituencies. Elections did not take place in Somali and Harari regions while parts of Oromia, Amhara, and SNNP regions were also left with the same fate. The South West referendum was also postponed.
The Coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations for Elections(CECOE) is a collaboration of networks of Civil Society Organizations with focus on electoral support in Ethiopia through promoting citizens’ participation and free elections. Driven by its desire to serve in the prevention, mitigation and management of election-related conflicts and potential violence in the run up to, and following the coming elections, CECOE works in all regions and city administrations to enhance the institutional capacity that enables member organizations to engage in voters and civic education and election observations.
On 7 August 2021, CECOE gave trainings to its Long-Term Observers (LTO) drawn from different Zones and Woredas where the second phase of elections is scheduled to be held in September 2021. The major objective of the training was to familiarize the observers with the CECOE’s election observation and reporting methodologies. Once the LTOs have completed their trainings, they will observe the different phases of the second-round elections: voter registration, voting and post-election.
Long-term observation is the more effective method, as the observation group acquires knowledge of the context within which voting and the counting takes place. Observers can thus provide more informed opinions on the election outcomes and more comprehensive guidance on relevant future improvements.
One of the core values of CECOE is inclusion, which covers the vital role that women play in political and election processes. The coalition strives to attain and sustain gender equality in all its election observation activities. As a result, in many of the trainings provided by CECOE women represent a significant number of trainees.
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).
A two-day training on quantitative and qualitative media reporting techniques was offered to our Media Monitoring Unit (MMU) with the technical assistance of European Center for Electoral Support (ECES).
During election times, Media monitoring can measure the amount of coverage of electoral subjects, the presence or absence of news bias, appropriateness of media access for political competitors and the adequacy of information conveyed to voters through news, direct political messages, public information programming and voter education announcements.
Media monitoring can help demonstrate that political competitors and the public at large should have confidence in the media, electoral authorities and the government that is responsible for providing genuine elections. Shortcomings in media conduct can be identified through monitoring in time for corrective action. Abuse of the mass media’s power to affect voter choices also can be documented, which allows the population and other stakeholders to appropriately characterize the true nature of the electoral process.
As part of its voter education initiative , our MMU has been compiling, analyzing and sharing its press reviews and reports to many key actors involved in the electoral process on a regular basis.
A consortium of 176 locally established Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) revealed that they are prepared to deploy over 3,000 election observers in the upcoming general election slated for June 21, 2021.
Earlier this week, the Coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations for Election (CECOE) organized a consultative meeting with stakeholders on the role of CSOs in areas of election related conflicts.
Beniam Abate, CECOE election observers’ coordinator, told The Reporter that, of the total 50,000 polling stations across the nation, the Coalition is planning to cover at least 5000 polling stations by dispatching its 3000 election observers.
Even though the Coalition planned to observe the process of the election starting from candidate registration, he explained, delays in receiving observer’s accreditation and badge from the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), have hindered its plans.
According to the NEBE, more than 134,100 local observers will be deployed to observe the upcoming general election.
Atleast 47 political parties and 125 independent candidates are vying for seats in the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HPR) and regional councils. Of the 50 million projected voters, the Board announced last week that around 37 million voters have registered to vote so far.
The Coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations for Election (CECOE), an initiative that was launched in early 2020, was established with the objective of providing civic and voter education, election monitoring, observation, advocacy and stakeholder’s participation and research and capacity building.
Meanwhile, Sources close to The Reporter indicated that the African Union (AU) will deploy around 60 election observers. It is to be recalled that the European Union (EU), which revealed it has cancelled its plans to send election observers, has now agreed to send a team of experts.
Similarly, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) Pre-Election Observation Assessment was conducted in late April 2021 and the delegation released their assessment results late last week.
The report by the NDI and IRI indicated the need for a serious and concerted effort by all stakeholders prior to Election Day, noting the necessity to hold
meaningful elections and laying the groundwork for national reconciliation and democratic progress beyond the elections.
CSOs to play a pivotal role in the upcoming Ethiopian national elections
On 20 May 2021, CECOE and ECES (European Centre for Electoral Support) jointly organized a consultation forum on the theme “CSOs and Elections – Role of CSOs’ in Election-related conflicts”. The event attracted close to 50 participants comprised of CSO members, government representatives and media professionals.
The three discussants at the forum were Nigussu Legesse (PhD), Executive Director for Consortium of Christian Relief and Development Association (CCRDA; Getachew Zeru (PhD), Assistant Professor at Ethiopian Civil Service university; and Franck Balme, Project Co-ordinator at ECES. The briefing session was moderated by Abeselom Samson, founder of Shengo Global.
Following a welcome address by CECOE acting director Abera H/mariam, Nigussu Legesse (PhD) presented an overview of the role of CSOs in elections, and explained in detail about the trust that is needed to be created among CSOs in order to create a strong and vibrant civil society. “We are going to have the 6th national election amidst tensions and the dynamics in play are very sensitive,” stressed Dr. Nigussu. He also added that CSOs should play a pivotal role in making the 6th national elections free and fair.
The second presenter, Dr. Getachew, on his part discussed about election related conflicts in a great detail. Each phase of an electoral process can give rise to conflicts and complaints about decisions of the electoral administration. Stakeholders must, however, distinguish the possible complaints by considering their cause, effects and the entity involved, according Dr. Getachew.
The third presenter Franck Balme reiterated the need to have an Early Warning System (EWS) to prevent and mitigate electoral violence. “Using the media monitoring team we formed in partnership with CECOE we are working to launch an Early Warning System (EWS) that will gather timely and credible information to equip key stakeholders in the election with the necessary mechanisms to develop actionable plans to address issues that can transpire conflicts,” said Franck.
As part of its effort to create awareness and dialogue among germane stakeholders involved in the electoral process, CECOE has planned to organize other similar forums in the coming few weeks.
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CECOE has successfully completed regional trainings for its long-term observers ahead of its voter registration observation activity. The regional training sessions were designed to give important knowledge, increase professional competence, and foster readiness of observers as well guaranteeing the requirement to be non-partisan is met by all participants recruited from nine regions and two city administrations where voter registration is taking place. All materials and manuals necessary for the voter registration exercise were also shared with observers in four languages during the trainings.
The European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) with funding support from the European Union, today organized a 4-day Leadership and Conflict Management for Electoral Stakeholders (LEAD) training for Ethiopian Civil Society Organisations under the auspices of the Coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Associations for Elections taking place in the beautiful city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The workshop is being conducted within the context of the Prevention, Mitigation and Management of Election-related Conflicts and Potential Violence in Ethiopia (PEV-ETHIOPIA), which seeks to establish a coalition of like-minded non-state actors in order to form a stronger voice in political- and electoral processes in Ethiopia.
The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) on Friday December 11, 2020, tendered an invitation for interested local Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to submit to the board their application to partake as local observers in the upcoming 6th general elections.
The board said local CSOs, as observers to an election, will play a great role in making the upcoming general election free, fair and independent.
Based on inputs collected during consultations with representative of CSOs and other stakeholders, the board stated, it has already approved an election observers’ code of conduct, which provides a guide to the relation between the board and local CSOs.