Ethiopian 2010 Election Update: Voting At A Glance In Addis Ababa

Posted on May 24, 2010


Ethiopians today (May 23,2010) went to the polls to cast there vote in the country’s fourth national elections. At 6.00 a.m. 43 thousand polling stations nationwide opened their doors.

While sometimes tense, situations in different kebeles around Addis Abeba never heated up to the level of the disputed elections in 2005.

At Addis Abeba University Sidist Kilo campus students voted in seven polling stations, according to the different regions.

At the Tigray station a student steps out of the line to express his grief about the tense atmosphere among students. “Everybody is scared,” he says. “There are too much government officials around here. Why are they here? How can we freely cast our vote like this?”

Within seconds some twenty people surround the young man, who says he is voting for Arena Tigray. They heavily disagree with him. “What are you talking about,” yells Siyum Shesa, a fellow student. “Did you ever get hurt by an EPRDF member? I don’t think so.”

Meanwile, the first guy failed to substantiate his accusation.

“The EPRDF brought us democracy and freedom,” states Desta Demissir, who studies educational planning and management and just casted his vote in the Southern Nations Nationalities & Peoples State polling station.

“Just look around,” he says. “Many students have different political views, but we tolerate each other. That’s what makes this a historical day for Ethiopia.”

At the Oromia students’ polling station, Samuel and Yohanis, two opposition supporters, are exceptionally open about their choice. Samuel says he will vote for Medrek while Yohanis prefers EDP.

Both law students say they crave for a change after 19 years of EPRDF rule in Ethiopia. “It is time to change the menu,” says Yohanis. “You don’t want to eat the same bread every day for years and years do you?”

In the Shiro Meda voting station, about seven kilometers away from the tensed Sidist Kilo campus, voters, observers and electoral board employers are more relaxed. While checking the voters accounts, they share injera, drink coffee and listen to loud music. It almost seems like a neighbourhood party.

Despite the easy going atmosphere, most Shiro Medo voters choose to keep their political preference to themselves. A man who insists to stay anonimous tells that he just voted for Medrek. But asked why he did so, he runs off.

It tells the story of the day: no fierce political debates while waiting in line for hours and hours, but calm streets and a somewhat silent and peaceful electorate.

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