The Govt controlled Election board NEBE had today banned Ethiopia’s main opposition party UDJ, in what observers said was the biggest blow to democracy since 2005.
The “Andinet” Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) party, formerly known as CUD, won the 2005 election in the capital city Addis Ababa before its leaders got imprisoned by security forces of the EPRDF ruling party.
In support of UDJ joining the 2015 election, over a million Ethiopians recently demonstrated in the streets of Addis Ababa last week. However, the election board suddenly awarded the name and logo of UDJ to a new group led by Tigistu Awelu.
Analysts in Addis Ababa said Mr. Tigistu Awelu was one of the government agents secretly planted by the ruling party to divide the opposition from the inside. The EPRDF ruling party has a reputation of using similar tactics to divide and weaken the opposition. It used the same technique in 2007 to break apart a strong Oromo opposition group led by Dr Merera Gudina.
This latest development comes only a month after the Ethiopian army Chief of staff Major General Samora Yenus gave a chilling warning to the opposition, in an alleged violation of the constitution. He said he does not trust the Ethiopian opposition and views them as enemies of the state.
With both the military and the election board allegedly controlled by the ruling party, many Ethiopians are pessimistic that change will come in 2015. However, registering to vote is mandatory in Ethiopia and tens of millions of Ethiopians will be forced to register for the election in order to keep their jobs and to avoid harassment by the EPRDF.