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Ethiopia televised debates: a viewer’s analysis

 


Ethiopian political parties have held two debates broadcast on the state owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC). The debates have however being overshadowed by the view that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took the biggest share of air time over the other parties.

The first debate was transmitted on March 13 and 14, after news hour at 2100 hours, titled ‘multi-party system, human and democratic rights in the country’. EPRDF, Blue party, Medrek coalition, Unity for Democracy and Justice Party (UDJ), and New Generation Party (NGP) took part in the debate.

While the ruling EPRDF was allocated 45 minutes to discuss its agenda, the other four parties shared a total of 75 minutes, almost 18 minutes per party. During the introduction section, EPRDF representatives was given 15 minutes to introduce the party and its points on the debate’s agenda while others had each six minutes. Also during the discussion, each of the four opposition parties got nine minutes while ERDF was given 20 minutes. EPRDF got 10 minutes to make its conclusion but each of the opposition parties was given only four minutes.

Besides the unequal time sharing on the debate among the parties, EPRDF was represented by two persons on each of the debates while others had one person.

The second debate which took place on March 20 and 21st, focused on federalism issues. EPRDF, UDJ, Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP), All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP), and All Ethiopian National Movement (AENM) took part while Blue party, Medrek and New Generation Party did not participate. It is not clear why only EPRDF and UDJ got the chance to express their point of view during this debate, while the other three parties who took part in the first debate were dropped. 

EBC is expected to host seven other debates on the upcoming days on weekly bases and 12 parties will participate based on the number of candidates they have for the upcoming parliamentary election. EBC will dedicate 18 hours of airtime for all the debates, each taking 120 minutes, and seven other different agendas are set to be discussed by the contesting parties.