On 6 April 2023, CECOE organized an event under the theme: Dialogue – Narratives on Ethiopian History. More than 50 participants drawn from CSOs and Political parties attended the event. The event was opened by CECOE’s executive director, Abera Hailemariam’s opening remarks. Subsequently, the moderator of the event Debebe Hailegebriale, lawyer and founder of Habegar debates called the session to order and introduced the speaker.
The event’s discussions were focused on a presentation titled “Narratives on Ethiopian History” presented by Birhanu Deboch – Lecturer, Author and Critic. The presenter made his presentation in two categories: National and Ethnic historical narratives.
National historical perspectives
The national historical perspective narrates that the Ethiopian nation and nationalities have a shared history, taking state expansion and other related events as a positive process. This category often referred as “Etiopist” is based on recorded documents written by chroniclers. However, the reliability of these recorded documents is often challenged by people in the other historical camp.
Ethnic based historical perspectives
Historians who prefer to see Ethiopia’s history from ethnic perspective portray that the nation’s history is a history of expansion and subjugation. The main information sources of this historical perspective are anthropological sources. However, historians in the other camp state that this perspective is highly characterized by victimization and methodologies used are not in line with history writing principles.
Q & A Session
Following the presentation, a Q & A session followed and the participants reflected and raised their questions. This event is part of CECOE’s effort to create a discussion platform whereby political elites (CSO representatives and academia) deliberate on controversies surrounding Ethiopian history and mitigating misinformation transpiring on social media. The event was the second of its kind organized by CECOE. More events aimed at strengthening discussion culture and dialogue are in the pipeline.
The Coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations for Elections (CECOE) successfully observed the referendum that was held on 6 February 2023 in the six zones and five special woredas of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR). In a bid to systematically observe the referendum, the CECOE recruited, trained and deployed 434 stationary and 76 mobile observers. The stationary observers were present to observe all the election processes at their assigned polling stations until the results were announced while the mobile observers were visiting a number of polling stations to observe the processes.
As part of its efforts to set an exemplary referendum observation system in Ethiopia, CECOE established a Referendum Situation Room (RSR) in which it received and analyzed referendum observation data sent via text from observers. On the voting day, the observers, who went through meticulous training on referendum observation and reporting, were sending observation data to the RSR since 5 A.M. Data clerks working at the data center in Addis Ababa were also receiving, organizing and analyzing the received data..The received observation data was analyzed using Apollo software and the findings were communicated to media outlets, members and partners as the voting process was underway.
Apollo is an application for collecting, organizing, and analyzing a large number of responses to a given set of questions, and provides the tools to do all these things. It allows users to upload information, organize and label responses, such as details about who will be sending in the data and where they will be located. Each person sending in data will do so by using SMS, directly into a web interface, or through one of several smartphone apps. The software identifies senders using a unique ID that has been assigned to them. It also aggregates all of the data to provide analysis and summaries of data received such as averages and other statistics related information..
Read the preliminary statement at https://bit.ly/3xn74g8
It is to be recalled that in August 2022 the House of Federation had given green light for 6 zones and 5 woredas that were under the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR) to hold a referendum and establish a new region, if supported by the inhabitants. The other zones and special woredas, namely Hadiya Zone, Hallaba Zone, Kenbata Tenbaro Zone, Gurage Zone, Silte Zone and Yem Special Woreda, would remain in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region, it further decided. Reports from the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) show that a total of 2, 934,143 people have registered to vote in this referendum.
On the 13th of December 2022, the Coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations for Elections (CECOE) conducted organized a one day training of for trainers (ToT) for trainers who will train referendum observers. The training is part of CECOE’s preparation to observe the referendum in the South Nation, Nationalities and People’s Regional State (SNNPR) slated for February 2022. The 15 trainees drawn from different zones of the SNNPR regional state and CECOE’s staff will cascade the knowledge they acquired to more than 1,300 observers through training scheduled to be held in Wolaita Sodo, Araba minch, Jinka and Dila towns.
The topics of the ToT covered the three phases of the referendum: pre-referendum, voting day and post referendum phases. To acquaint the trainers very well with the referendum concepts they were provided with practical examples and video materials.
It is to be recalled that in August 2022 the House of Federation had given green light for 6 zones and 5 woredas that were under the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR) to hold a referendum and establish a new region, if supported by the inhabitants.
The other zones and special woredas, namely Hadiya Zone, Hallaba Zone, Kenbata Tenbaro Zone, Gurage Zone, Silte Zone and Yem Special Woreda, would remain in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region, it further decided.
Previously CECOE observed the Sidama, the South West Ethiopia Peoples’ Region referendums and the 6th Ethiopian general elections that were held in 2019 and 2021 respectively. During these electoral processes, CECOE trained and deployed different types of election observers — namely: Long Term Observers (LTOs), Election Day Observers (Mobile and stationary), mobile and post-election observers. In order to observe the election with a high-level of professionalism, all CECOE’s observers had taken several training sessions in different rounds. During the training sessions, the observers took part in different simulation exercises which were based on real-case scenarios.
As part of its efforts to set an exemplary election and referendum observation system in Ethiopia, CECOE established an Election Situation Room (ESR) in which it received and analyzed election observation data sent via text from observers. On the voting days, the observers, who went through meticulous training on election and referendum observation and reporting, were sending observation data to the ESR in real-time. Data – clerks working in two shifts were also receiving, organizing and analyzing the received data. The data was analyzed using Apollo software and the findings were communicated to media outlets, members and partners as the voting process was underway.
It is with the same zeal CECOE is making preparations to systematically observe the upcoming referendum. Furthermore, CECOE has planned to organize consultation forums whereby key stakeholders deliberate on the role of CSOs and higher education in the referendum.
From the 23rd to the 30th of November 2022, the Coalition of Ethiopian Civil Society Organizations for Elections – CECOE conducted five different trainings on Peacebuilding and Conflict mitigation. The trainings were provided as part of CECOE’s effort to augment the role of CSOs in Peacebuilding and Conflict mitigation. A total of 194 trainees drawn from different parts of Ethiopia participated in the trainings. Of the five trainings, the first Training of Trainers (ToT) was conducted in Addis Ababa on 22 -23 November 2022. This ToT was followed by four other trainings conducted in Dire Dawa and Hawassa on 25 and 26 November and in Bahirdar and Adama on November 28 and 29.
The training was designed to build the capacity of CECOE member organizations to contribute to peacebuilding and the national dialogue processes. In a bid to provide effective training, CECOE prepared and provided training modules and training manuals to the trainers. Similarly, the trainees were provided with well-developed reading materials and worked examples.
The training provided an opportunity for the participants to network with conflict experts, examine their roles in peacebuilding, and devise strategies for mitigating conflicts accurately, impartially, and responsibly.
On 6 October 2022, CECOE organized a national Dialogue Session on Citizenship and Ethnic/National Identity in Ethiopia. The main objective of the session was aimed at creating a platform for discussion among different actors where genuine dialogue between competing views on Ethiopian citizenship and ethnic identity can take place. The dialogue was opened by CECOE’s Executive director, Abera Hailemariam, who welcomed everyone and went on to describe the coalition’s aim to promote democratic culture.
The two presenters and discussants at the session were Eyasped Tesfaye, Founder of Ubuntu Media and Communications, and Mulugeta Aregawi, Attorney and Lecturer of Law at Addis Ababa University. The first presenter’s presentations were mainly focused on Ethnic/National Identity. “Nationalism is primarily a political principle, which holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent. Nationalist sentiment is the feeling of anger aroused by the violation of the principle, or the feeling of satisfaction aroused by its fulfillment. A nationalist movement is one actuated by a sentiment of this kind,” according to Eyasped.
The second presenter’s, Mulugeta, presentation was mainly focused on citizenship identity, highlighting that ethnic based political systems have negatively contributed to flaring up conflicts both locally and internationally. He also explained that both citizenship based identity and its advocates have been under a continuous attack in Ethiopia for the past three decades.
Participants of the session drawn from various CSOs, partners and government agencies also reflected on the presentations and forwarded recommendations to thaw the current political tensions in Ethiopia.
In a bid to promote such political dialogues and promote democratic culture, CECoE has planned to organize a series of similar sessions on various contested topics.
On 25 August 2022, CECOE, in partnership with NDI and Redeem the generation, held a workshop themed: The role of civil society organization and citizen participation in a national dialogue- in Adama city. The objective of the workshop was to discuss possible CSOs and citizen intervention in national dialogue and gather input from participants. The participants of the workshop were drawn from CECOE’s member CSOs, non-CECOE members, professional associations, and youth associations based in the Oromia regional state.
The workshop was opened by an opening remark from CECOE’s representative. In his opening remarks CECOE’s program manager, Biniam Abate, welcomed the participants and expounded on CECOE’s previous and planned project activities. He also added that CECOE has planned various activities aimed at bolstering the role of CSOS in the ongoing national dialogue process.
Following the opening remarks, CECOE’s executive director, Abera Hailemarim, made a presentation focused on the historical aspects of a national dialogue and roles that should be played by Ethiopian CSOs and citizens. The following topics were the major issues raised in the director’s presentation:
- Purpose of National Dialogue
- Difference between National Dialogue & Debate
- Factors affecting the success or failure of National Dialogue
- Outcomes of national Dialogue
- Role of Citizens in a Democratic Society
As supporting the country’s democracy building effort is one of CECOE’s organizational goals, the coalition intends to contribute its own fair share to make the national dialogue a success. To that end, CECOE has planned to organize a series of events whereby various germane stakeholders deliberate on the planned national dialogue. To get latest updates on the events, please follow CECOE on Twitter (@CecoeEth) and subscribe to our newsletter using this link www. cecoe/newsletter.org,
The Second Ethiopian CSO week was held from 30 June – 2 July 2022 under the theme “Proactive CSOs for Peace, Democracy and Development”. At the event, more than 85 CSOs showcased their products, reports, research documents, projects, and public relations materials. Furthermore, there were four sideline panel discussions whereby key stakeholders deliberated on various topics i.e.,: localization of aid; gender; role of CSOs in peacebuilding and the enactment of the new CSOs proclamation.
The CECOE at the exhibition showcased elections’ reports, Media Monitoring Unit, Apollo system (election observation data management software), Voter education report, IVote (digital voter education), and other publications. High dignitaries, including H. E Dr. Gedion Timotiwos, FDRE Attorney General, H.E. Dr. Ergoge Tesfay Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, visited CECOE’s booth and applauded the coalition’s works.
The First Civil Society Organizations (CSO), Government and Private Partnership Exhibition and Conference were held at Oromia Cultural Center in Addis Ababa, April 6-9 2021. H. E Dr. Gedion Timotiwos, FDRE Attorney General, H.E Dr. Ergoge Tesfay Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, and Mr. Jima Dilbo-Director General-ACSO were among the dignitaries who attended the opening ceremony and made brief visits to the exhibition. Similarly, parallel to the exhibition conferences on various pertinent topics were held.
CECOE held three consecutive validation workshops on April 5, 7 and 8, 2022 on assessments it conducted on Voter Education, NEBE’s directives and CECOE’s comprehensive citizens election observation project. Nearly 150 participants who came from different parts of the country attended the workshops. The purposes of the workshops were to share CECOE’s assessments findings with the participants and receive their comments.
Validation Workshop on: Assessment of the National Election Board of Ethiopia Directive on Local
Elections Observation and Voter education
This workshop was held on April 5,2022 and was attended by university lecturers pulled from different law schools across the country. The general objective of this assessment was to identify the normative and challenges related to domestic election observation in Ethiopia with specific emphasis on assessing the National Electoral board of Ethiopia- NEBE’s directive on Local Election Observers’ Accreditation, Working Procedure, Code of Conduct and Voter education.
Validation Workshop on: Assessment of the Implementation of CECOE’s Comprehensive Citizens’ Election Observation
With the aim of gathering an insight into the strengths and weaknesses that CECOE registered in the implementation of its comprehensive election observation project, this assessment has the purpose of serving as a learning mechanism for future citizen election observation projects that will be implemented by CECOE as well as other domestic observation groups.
Validation Workshop on: Assessment of voter education activities by Ethiopian CSOs during the
6th general elections
This study has explored the voter education and information activities conducted by local Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) under the new legal framework for elections and civil society engagement in Ethiopia. As voter education is an integral element of all democratic elections, the coalition conducted an assessment on voter education programs implemented by CSOs. To that end, the coalition collected data from CSOs, trainers and other participants of voter education initiatives during the Sixth General Elections, as well as interviewing key informants from the NEBE, CSO sector and the media in order to gain insight into the qualities and shortcomings of voter education activities conducted by local CSOs.
Once all the comments from the participants have been incorporated, the three assessments will be made available to key stakeholders both in print and online versions.
On March 10, 2022, CECOE in partnership with NDI organized a one-day consultative forum on “The Role of CSOs in National Dialogue”. The objective of the forum was to raise the awareness of CSO actors on National Dialogue and actively engage them in the process. The forum was moderated by Biniam Abate, CECOE program manager. Speakers at the forum included Dr. Henock Seyoum, Dr. Henok Seyoum, Deputy General Secretary, House of People’s Representatives (HPR) of Ethiopia and Abera Hailemarim, CEOCE’s Executive Director.
In his presentation, Dr Henock elucidated over the need for a national dialogue and procedures passed before the passing of the proclamation and establishment of the commission. Prior to the formation of the national dialogue commission, a number of preparatory works such as review of legal documents, historical narratives, organizational structures and best international experiences were thoroughly examined, according to Dr. Henock.
Following the presentation, several questions were raised by the participants regarding the independence of the commission; the selection process of the commission’s members; approaches to conduct the national dialogue, and the impacts of active conflicts going on in different parts of the country. According to the presenter, the study that was conducted prior to the establishment of the commission had already addressed the concerns raised by the participants. Furthermore, he stressed that some of the ideas raised during the discussion would be taken as inputs and incorporated to further strengthen the effort.
The second presentation by Abera Hailemariam, CECOE Executive Director, was mainly focused on the evolution of national dialogue and the roles CSOs should play to make the National Dialogue successful. “The evolution of National Dialogue formed its initial conceptions in eastern and central Europe in the post-cold war period, from the growing discontentment of the gap between citizens and ruling elites,” he expounded. There are three key factors that affect the success or failure of National Dialogue efforts such as: Support of elites, Support of the public, Support of regional and international actors. He also proposed some roles that CSOs should play in the upcoming national dialogue.
Some of the major proposed roles are:
Providing info to the public in processes of ND
Forwarding recommendations on policy
Establishing relations between the general public and the national dialogue commission
Watchdogging the national dialogue process
Organizing consultations b/n CSO leaders and NDC
As supporting the country’s democracy building effort is one of CECOE’s organizational goals, the coalition intends to contribute its own fair share to make the national dialogue a success. To that end, CECOE has planned to organize a series of events whereby various germane stakeholders deliberate on the planned national dialogue. To get latest updates on the events, please follow CECOE on Twitter (@CecoeEth) and subscribe to our newsletter using this link www. cecoe/newsletter.org