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Blue party gains from NEBE’s decision on UDJ



The government’s systematic action to weaken relatively the most popular opposition, Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ) has brought a new fortune to the young opposition Blue party as most of UDJ members defected to the party. The former UDJ’s speaker Abebe Akalu, on February 3, 2015 joined Blue party and called on other members of the party to follow their footsteps. “UDJ members strongly believe in peaceful struggle even while their party is being ‘hijacked’. In order to continue the peaceful struggle Blue party is the best alternative since it has no major policy difference with UDJ”, Abebe said. Their defection followed the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia’s (NEBE) decision to revokes the mandate of the popular former UDJ’s leadership on January 29, 2015.
Blue party’s Chairman Yilqal Getnet admitted UDJ have wide membership throughout the country which will help strengthen his party. ‘The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the Electoral Board has helped UDJ and Blue party to be united’ ironically said Yilqal.

NEBE and UDJ’s leadership issues

NEBE officially dismissed UDJ’s former popular leadership led by Belay Befekadu and recognized another group as the party’s official led by Tigestu Awelu NEBE claimed that UDJ deliberately changed its internal rules in order to give power to the National Council to elect Chairman of the party which was the prerogative of the General Assembly. The board further argued this violated UDJ’s rules and regulations. NEBE also accused Belay’s leadership of not reporting its activities to the General Assembly. It also demanded prior notice on the changed internal rules, and reports of General assembly and national council meetings that had not been submitted by the party at all, according to NEBE.

Belay’s leadership considers NEBE’s decision as a systematic and deliberate action to weaken the party and further destroy it as it seeks to compete for more than 400 seats of the 547 parliamentary seats. He also claims the ruling EPRDF uses the Election Board to frustrate UDJ through giving unfair decisions which are not applied to other parties.
The Blue party used to be criticized of being dominated by the youth, and having no strong structures especially in Ethiopia’s suburbs and rural areas. However, the massive defection of UDJ members to the Blue party might change these circumstances as UDJ had relatively wide membership and structures. Ironically, Blue party was established by former UDJ members who defected from the party in December 2011 claiming principles were being compromised by party leaders.

Following UDj’s members’ defection to the party, it now aims to have about 400 candidates through the country. However, the party is complaining its candidates are being deliberately refused to get registered as candidates in some parts of the country.