Ethiopian parties agree rules for 2010 polls

Ayele Chamiso, Chairman of CUDP
 Ayele Chamiso, Chairman of CUDP
Ayele Chamiso, Chairman of CUDP

Wednesday 28 October 2009, ADDIS ABABA  (AFP)— Ethiopia’s ruling party and the main opposition groups in parliament agreed to an electoral code for next year’s polls, an opposition official told AFP Wednesday.

The code sets out campaigning, voting and party symbol guidelines as well as how to deal with intimidation and violence, abuse of office and corruption.

It also includes the setting up of a panel to handle election disputes.

“The agreement was reached on consensus by all participants after two months of negotiations,” said Ayalew Chamiso, head of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy party (CUD).

“The agreement enables the elections to be carried out in a peaceful, fair and free manner,” added Ayalew, whose group is an offshoot of an eponymous party that won an unprecedented number of seats in 2005 elections.

The All Ethiopian Unity Party and the Ethiopia Democratic Party also agreed to the rules, according to the state television.

But the Forum for Democratic Dialogue in Ethiopia, a coalition of eight parties which had said key elements on security and freedom of expression and movement were not included in the code, was left out.

Ethiopia’s last elections in 2005 ended in chaos, with nearly 200 people killed during a crackdown on opposition protesters who accused Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s party of rigging the vote.

The Horn of Africa country has set May 23, 2010 as the provisional election date.