ADDIS ABABA – The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) has rejected an application to get a registration license for a new party under the Ethiopian Workers’ party (EWP).
The name was previously used by a Marxist–Leninist communist party that led Ethiopia from 1984 to 1991 with Mengistu Hailemariam as its chair.
Under the same name, Yohannes Tadesse and et al, coordinators in the bid to establish a new national political party, applied to obtain a temporary registration license in May 2022.
A day after holding a meeting that reviewed the application, the election board Tuesday announced its decision in a statement stating that it has rejected the registration application.
Two major proclamations were used as a base for the board’s decision to bar the application.
The first was article 69 of the Ethiopian Electoral, Political Parties Registration, and Election’s Code of Conduct Proclamation, according to the NEBE.
The provision states that a political party is barred from registration if its name and abbreviation of its name is in use by another party or is similar to that of another party that it is likely to result in voters’ confusion.
The second one is a proclamation issued soon after the Mengistu regime was overthrown in 1991 and dissolved the EWP, naming it as an anti-democratic and criminal entity.
This proclamation has not been annulled, said NEBE.
This shows, the NEBE said, the requested party name is not only similar to that of the most powerful party that ruled the country once but also with an outlawed entity designated as criminal under the law of the country.
Accepting the request would be a violation of existing law, according to the board.
The name could also create unintended understanding and confusion during an elections period, it said, the board, therefore, decided to reject the registration application as per article 69 of the Political Parties Registration Proclamation.
However, the board said the coordinators still can register under a different name and carry out their political party in the country.
Meanwhile, the Board urged political parties currently operating with only a temporary license to get a legal certificate of identity.
“It is known that political parties that have obtained a temporary registration license from the Board can only use the temporary license to perform the activities required to register the party according to the proclamation,” said the NEBE.
“Therefore, the Board would like to inform that these parties are not allowed to engage in other activities with only a temporary registration certificate and without being given a certificate of legal identity,” it added.
Article 66 of the Political Parties Registration Proclamation stipulates that any political party can act as a political party in Ethiopia only when it is registered by the Board and obtains a certificate of legal personality in accordance with the law.