Significance of Civic Societies Underscored in Upcoming Election

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ENA February 17/2020 The role of civic societies in mobilizing and enhancing public awareness is crucial in making the upcoming national election fair, democratic, and peaceful, according to leaders of civic societies and the Federal Attorney-General. 

Legal Study, Drafting and Dissemination Deputy Director at the Federal Attorney-General,

Enadlkachew Worku told ENA that the role of civic societies in terms of raising public awareness about the election are of immense significance.

“Civic societies can teach and mobilize the people to know their rights and responsibilities in a democracy. The societies are expected to play a big role in educating the public so as to conduct a democratic, fair, and peaceful election,” he added.

The deputy director pointed out that Proclamation No. 1113/2019 of Organizations of Civil Societies has created enabling environment to civic societies to enhance and strengthen themselves at all levels as some of the restrictions on them are lifted.

Civil societies can not only engage in human rights and politics now, they can also raise over 10 percent fund from abroad, he elaborated.

The societies can also organize forums and invite political parties to debate and introduce their political programs to the public to shed light on the diverse alternative ideas the parties offer.

Consortium of Civic and Voters Education Actors Executive Director, Sahle-Selassie Abebe said though few the role of civic society organizations in making the election fair and democratic is high.

The consortium has good experiences from the past elections, especially the 2005 election, the executive director, said, adding that it will help to educate and mobilize the people.

Specifically, they can will enhance the awareness of the youth to make them refrain from mob violence, he stressed. The executive director said they can prevent damage of property and loss of lives before and after the national election.

“As it is our major responsibility we are ready to educate the public not to cause damage on  property and life as this destroys national image and public morality …. In connection with the election, educating the public about voting, democratic rights and giving voter education are our activities,” Sahle-Selassie stated.

The structure of the government needs to ensure peace and stability that enable civic societies to fulfill their responsibilities, he noted.

The executive director further noted that the civic societies, beyond enhancing public awareness, will observe the national election.

Civic societies were under systematic influence of the ruling party had been weekend to function before the reform, but after the reform workable environments are created including revision of civil society law, he pointed out.

Ethiopian Women Federation Director-General, Genet Seyoum said the federation as a civic society plans to promote the participation of women in the election.

The priority agenda of the organization before the election is working on peace since  sustainable peace is the main precondition to conduct free, fair and democratic election, she added.

“We will also observe the election as we did previously. Our target is that a woman has to  actively participate in the election as candidate, observer and voter,” the director-general stated.

Organizing discussions  with political parties, the federation will work to enhance women’s awareness on the political programs of different parties and to elect the party that ensures the benefits of women, Genet pointed out.

Besides, the federation will mobilize women to actively participate in the election as their vote has significant value to secured their future political and socio-economic benefits.