Ethiopia's sweeping reforms ever since Abiy Ahmed got in power as the Prime Minister are gaining more traction as evidenced by the appointment of Birtukan Mideksa as the head of Ethiopia's electoral board. She joins the list of women breaking the glass ceiling in Ethiopia.
Birtukan Mideksa is a leading opposition figure in Ethiopia. She is a former judge and her appointment speaks volumes in terms of the message Ethiopia is sending to the world about its seriousness in regards to opening up democratic spaces. Birtukan Mideksa returned to Ethiopia earlier this month after spending seven years in exile in the United States. She fled into exile after the much disputed 2005 elections which resulted in the death of hundreds of people and the arrest of many opposition politicians.
Ethiopia's electoral board has always come under heavy criticism in the past years over allegations of being captured by the state and being manipulated by the state. She has an onerous task to restore the faith and trust in the country's electoral board, which will handle the country's next elections in 2020. The opposition has been immensely stifled in Ethiopia over the past years.
The appointment of Mideksa is a message being sent by Abiy Ahmed showing how serious he is with making Ethiopia very democratic. Ever since he got in power he has presided over massive reforms like making peace with Eritrea, freeing political prisoners, opening up blocked channels and websites, and also appointing Sahle-Work as the country's first female president. He has also presided over the rise of women in getting parliamentary seats.
Birtukan Mideksa hopes that she will fully maximise her experience from being a judge in resolving conflicts and differences.
She remarked that Ethiopians exuded a zeal for change. "The Ethiopian people are ready to build the democratic system they want and to hold the government accountable - and they have shown us that by paying the sacrifice needed," Ms. Birtukan told journalists. "So, I believe that that public readiness is one good opportunity."
"Even though there's still a lot to be done, we are seeing many institutional reforms in many directions. These are good opportunities."
"And I believe that fact that this government has proved its commitment for a genuine and true democracy is another good opportunity."
There is a growing sense of optimism in Ethiopia and many believe Mideksa will live up to expectations and restore faith in the country's electoral board. She presents herself as the voice of the opposition, an experienced lawyer, hardworking, honest and sharp.
Can she turn around the perception of the electoral board? Only time will tell but the fact that Abiy Ahmed has turned to her to be the elections boss is a sign that he places lots of trust in her to change things around for the betterment of Ethiopia's democracy.
Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister has continued his impressive start to what looks a rebirth in the country's history. He has made a bold statement on gen…
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