Prayer For Sunday’s Elections in Ethiopia: Uncertainty for Christians

May 22, 2015 by Janelle P

Ethiopia will hold regional and parliamentary elections on May 24 for the first time since the death of former long-time leader Meles Zenawi. Zenawi ruled the country from 1995 until his death in 2012, enjoying much criticism for his handling of dissents.

Many consider the outcome of this year’s election to be rather predictable, with a clear win for the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Front (EPRD). The party currently controls 97% of the seats in Parliament. There is only one opposition member and one private contender who has been wholeheartedly endorsing the policies of the ruling party.

Opposition parties have been too fragmented to produce any meaningful alternatives to the EPRDF, but have complained about an uneven playing field in the face of media restrictions. However, at some regional levels, opposition parties are challenging the EPRD and its affiliates, hoping to win at least a few seats in parliament. Additionally, Muslims are reportedly dissatisfied with the ruling party and may show their dissatisfaction by voting for the opposition.

Local sources told Open Doors if the outcome is not as the opposition expects, there will be claims of vote rigging that might result in violence. The recent clash between police and residents of Addis Ababa during demonstrations following the killing of Ethiopian Christians by IS shows the level discontent. Local sources fear a repeat of the violence following the announcement of results in the 2005 elections in which at least 22 people were killed and more than 100 in Addis Ababa. The government blamed the main opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) for inciting the violence.

The Ethiopian government has repeatedly warned citizens that it will not tolerate any “illegal actions to disrupt the election process and its outcome”. Last week, the head of the country’s Federal Police Forces indicated that they have strong evidence of plans by “anti-peace elements” to disrupt the election, and he warned all citizens not to cooperate with these elements.

· During election times, we often see an increased targeting of Christians. Pray for the Lord’s protection over our brothers and sisters.

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