1.      What is your general impression about the upcoming elections? Are you following the event with interest or casually?

 

I am following it with a lot of interest. I read newspapers and have seen some of the debates.

 

Fikirte Abebaw,

Age 42, Health Professional, Cathedral School Area.

'Casually'

Dawit, Age 28, Family Size 5, Lecturer, Qebena

I follow the event casually. However, my impression is that the next elections will be better than the last 2000 election, and I hope that more seats will be won by the opposition parties.

 

Frew T, Age 26, Post-Graduate Student, Ethiopia.

Because of what had happened in the earlier elections, I do not expect a free and fair election this time either. Thus, I am following the event casually.’

 

Temesgen, Age 39, Single, Netherlands.

‘I expect that this round the election is going to be more democratic and representative as compared to the previous two. I am following the developments around the election, or around Ethiopia in general, on daily basis’

 

Tamrat, Bole Gebriel.

‘I had the opportunity to see live debates a couple of months ago in Addis but now I am following based on information that I can find on the Internet.’

Name:  Samson Z., Age 40, Family size 3

Profession, Aviation Telecom, Originally from Merkato Medhane Alem (now at USA).

 

 

 

2.      Which political personalities or parties have impressed you with their agenda and vision for Ethiopia?

 

‘First I thought the opposition group was strong and has a good chance. But in all the debates it is clear that EPRDF is more organized and convincing.”

W/o Fikirte

'Kinjit. In particular, Dr. Berhanu Nega",

Ato Dawit

‘No Comment’

Ato Frew T

‘I have not been following the event with keen interest. I have not read their programs. As a result, it would be difficult for me to name one. I want a broad-based party that has a concrete principle and sound solutions to avoid poverty, illiteracy and, most of all, the existence of another Eritrea.’

Ato Temesgen

 

‘I always used to dislike the EPRDF and wanted the opposition block to form good national coalitions that would give it a real challenge on the ballot. But I am really disappointed with the opposition parties, more so this year than before. I would like to admit that the ruling party has been smarter in a lot of ways than the opposition parties. The CUD’s social democratic view is the one that impressed me, but I am really disappointed with them after they walked out of the televised debate for trivial reasons. I think what should have mattered for them was getting their message across to the voter than applaud from fans in the meeting hall.’

Ato Tamrat

‘I differentiate impressed from agreement. Do I totally agree with EPRDF? NO, but is the party focused on what they believe in? YES. For that reason they impress me.’

 

Ato Samson Z.

 

 

3. Do you think EPRDF has been good for the country? Some people say that EPRDF has improved Addis Ababa with the new modern International airport, ring road, Sheraton Hotel and the numerous new buildings, and the improved roads outside Addis Ababa. Their critics say that these are superficial. What do you think?

 

‘The developments that one can see in the country can not be considered superficial. But I am not sure EPRDF did all these to be good to the country. A lot of money comes from outside with many foreign experts.”

W/o Fikirte

'Not as good as it could have been. I am especially against the ethnic policy which may be dangerous at some time.  I also do not think that most people are better off economically. The poor are getting poorer, and very few people are getting richer. The way the government handled the Eritrea issue is unpatriotic.'

Ato Dawit

‘Well, I see some infra-structural improvements. But the achievements are very few for 12 years.’

Ato Frew T

‘Certainly no! After about thirteen years in office, they are still busy destroying the country. The country’s image still remains bad abroad. The only topics we here about Ethiopia are its fame for poverty, border clashes, alarming rate of HIV and so forth. Yet, we boast of having some few blocks here and there. There is no argument that we need to change the disgracing feature of the capital. Who doesn’t want to have decent streets and buildings? But the point is that priority should have been given to the other main issues (political, social, economic, education health security…). This is what the critics were trying to point at. So, I agree with the critics.’

Ato Temesgen

 

‘There are a lot of issues that the EPRDF has to be blamed – the border issue, the ethnic clashes, the failure to feed our selves and so much more. But it would be a denial not to acknowledge the good points. I don’t think any one in their right minds say that the road network that has really improved transportation in the country is superficial. The incumbent has been successful with that. The likes of Sheraton and the numerous buildings would have flourished if the government had created a more conducive environment, but I think it is good that we have something than nothing.

The Civil Service Reform Program has also been successful, although it didn’t go as far as I would like it to. But visiting government ministries or the once notorious municipalities would indicate how much of a positive change the reform has brought about.

The higher education expansion has created opportunities for a lot of young citizens. There remains a lot that we have to do to raise the quality of education in higher institutions, but the government really deserves praise over the expansion.   

 

Ato Tamrat

 

‘I am very split on this one. I abhor their ethnic base policy and favoritism towards Tigray but at the same time they have delivered improved Addis Ababa, rural roads, power to rural areas, small industries etc.’

Ato Samson Z.

 

 

 

4.      Among the ministers and political appointees in Prime Minister Meles’ cabinet, who is – in your opinion - most respected (least disliked)? Who do you think is least liked?

 

‘I don’t know if he is very liked but President Girma is respected or you can say ‘least’ disliked. Ato Arkebe and Ato Nahusenai seem to be fit for their position. W/o Genet Zewdie and Meles himself are very much disliked. They insult people and are disrespectful.  ”

W/o Fikirte

'Most liked: Arkebe Uqbay. Most disliked: Tefera Walwa.'

Ato Dawit

 

‘Many people do dislike Genet Zewede’.

Ato Frew T

 

‘I do not have the slightest idea about the cabinet members.’

Ato Temesgen

 

‘Personally, I think Girma Birru and Getachew Belay would be the respected ones. Meles himself and Genet Zewdie would be the most disliked ones, for their arrogance.’

Ato Tamrat

 

 

Genet Zewde and Tefera Walwa seem equally the most disliked. I think Arkebe Equbay is the most liked.’

Ato Samson Z

 

 

5.       In this election, what issues are important for you personally and your family? (The economic condition, democratic rights, employment, peace and stability, others?) How about for the whole country? (The Eritrea question, famine/drought, the economy, AIDS/HIV, poverty, ethnic relationships, land tenure, environment pollution, population growth, etc?)

 

‘The famine problem is the most disturbing issue for me. To tell you the truth, I just do not understand why we have famine when I see good crops almost everywhere in Ethiopia. But every year they say there are millions of people who need food from outside. I am very ashamed and confused. I think our leaders also seem confused about it.

 

W/O Fikirte

'Political Stability, economy, HIV'

Ato Dawit

‘For me personally, the main issues are economic condition, peace and stability.’

 

Ato Frew T

‘I think to every patriotic Ethiopian, the first and utmost important issue should be the solid unity and stability of our country. Second in priority is to change this election into a “farewell party” to the TPLF. Under TPLF’s rule, I’m afraid, it won’t be too far before we see another province transformed into breakaway independent state. Nonetheless, all the other things mentioned above like economic condition, democratic rights, employment, peace and stability are equally important. Immediate action should be taken against famine. Any way, so long as we transform ethnic diversity into unity, we will achieve all the other goals with less sacrifice.’

Ato Temesgen

‘For me the most important issues are a pragmatic economic policy and peace.

As for the country as a whole, I think the poverty would be a major concern followed by HIV. But things are pretty interwoven - the population contributes to the poverty or the environment influences drought, lots of money would other wise be used for development would be spent for the military if the Eritrea issue is not solved. I think the land tenure issue is more of a debate issue for the opposition than the farmers concerned.’

 

Ato Tamrat

‘This question is something that one can write a book about. There are so many issues in your question and all are equally important. Whether EPRDF or the opposition is governing Ethiopia, there is no easy solution to these issues. Let me comment on the democracy part – we seem to have very short memory span on this one. It was just a decade ago that one would be executed without trial for what we are allowed to say in Ethiopia now. We have a long way to go before we can say we are democratic but we have some signs of it.  The other issues that I consider important are peace and stability, and the economy. The rest I believe will revolve around these issues. The government has to liberalize some of the big monopolies – telecom is one example. The land issue is another big obstacle. I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt and try to understand EPRDF’s position on this issue but I am not even close to saying, “May be they have a point”. It just does not make sense to me.’

Ato Samson Z.