Ethiopian opposition criticize subsidy reimbursement clause

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Ethiopia has slashed 31 million birr from a 180 million birr budget request submitted by the country’s electoral board towards the upcoming general elections scheduled to take place in May 2010.

Under a law approved by the Ethiopian government in 2008, which amended a registration law for political parties allowing them to obtain financial subsidies from government coffers, a budget request of 180 million birr was submitted by the country’s electoral for approval ahead of the general elections scheduled to take place in May 2010.

Tesaye Mengesha, secretary of the board confirmed reception of the less than expected budget of 149 million birr, slashed down from 180 million birr, owing to the country’s poor financial situation. “We already received the approved budget last week,” he said.

The released budget will be used for the running cost of the electoral board’s campaign subsidy fund in order to cater for all political parties involved in the pending general elections. Detailed information on the amount to be received by each campaign has not yet been made public.

A budget provision from the electoral board, however, stipulates that 10 per cent of the budget should go to all parties as campaign season subsidies [with the exception of independent candidates], while another ten is to be directed towards the encouragement of parties with more women candidates. 55 per cent of the total budget is to go towards parliamentary seats while the remaining twenty five per cent will be shared among the number of candidates.

Opposition political parties, meanwhile, have criticized some of the electoral board’s budget provisions, including one which stipulates that political parties that obtain government subsidies are under obligation to participate in the elections. Those who boycott, according to the contested clause, are to reimburse government campaign subsidies.

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