World EU scraps plan to observe Ethiopia election
Ethiopia's Tigray conflict: Six months on and no end in sight
It has been six months since Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray for a military campaign he vowed would be swift and targeted. Abiy said earlier this month that Ethiopia's military is fighting "on eight fronts" in hotspots including Tigray, where pro-TPLF fighters have adopted "guerrilla" tactics.But violence rumbles on, and reports continue to emerge of massacres, rape and widespread hunger.
NAIROBI (Reuters) - The European Union has scrapped plans to send observers to a parliamentary election in Ethiopia next month, saying conditions had not been met on communication systems and the mission's independence.
Announcing the decision late on Monday, the EU's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said in a statement that the 27-nation bloc would also not monitor preparations for the June 5 election including voter registration.
"The EU regrets the refusal of the fulfilment of standard requirements for the deployment of any Electoral Observation Mission, namely the independence of the Mission and the import of mission communication systems," Borrell said.
Republican state lawmakers are giving partisan poll watchers new powers, setting off alarms about potential voter intimidation.
Voting rights activists are sounding alarms about Republican efforts in key states to empower partisan poll watchers and expand voter challenges -- arguing it could lead to voter intimidation that recalls dark chapters in US history. © Megan Varner/Getty Images Demonstrators stand outside of the Capitol building in opposition of House Bill 531 on March 8, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. HB531 will restrict early voting hours, remove drop boxes, and require the use of a government ID when voting by mail.
"It is disappointing that the EU has not received the assurances necessary to extend to the Ethiopian people one of its most visible signs of support for their quest for democracy."
Dina Mufti, Ethiopia's foreign ministry spokesman, said the main sticking point was over communication systems.
"Firstly, they said they will come with V-SAT communication equipment which is out of Ethiopia's Communication technology system," Mufti told a news conference.
"We have held six election so far as a country but we have never had such a claim from observers. Every election area is accessible by the National Telecommunication system, they can use that."
Ethiopia, a country of 110 million people, has one of the world's last closed telecoms markets markets but has begun the process of liberalising it.
Ethiopia had been scheduled to hold an election in August 2020 but it was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, there has been conflict in the northern region of Tigray, which will not take part in voting, and in other areas.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Prosperity Party face challenges from increasingly strident ethnically-based parties seeking more power for their regions.
(Reporting by Ayenat Mersie, Additional reporting by Addis Ababa newsroom; Editing by Timothy Heritage)
Tigray: Eritrean troops disguised as Ethiopian military are blocking critical aid .
Despite a promise to leave, Eritrean troops are operating with total impunity in Ethiopia's Tigray region, killing, raping and blocking aid to starving populations.A CNN team traveling through Tigray's central zone witnessed Eritrean soldiers, some disguising themselves in old Ethiopian military uniforms, manning checkpoints, obstructing and occupying critical aid routes, roaming the halls of one of the region's few operating hospitals and threatening medical staff.