A European Union mission to support free and fair elections in Ethiopia began with a press conference with the prime minister.
The leader of the European Union’s observer mission to Ethiopian, Thijs Berman, told local media in Addis that the mission of more than 160 European lawyers, media and human rights experts will remain objective and neutral in monitoring the May 23 national election.
Berman and his deputy, Tony Reis, appeared at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Friday.Berman said the mission’s role is to give the public confidence in the election process, to deter fraud, encourage respect for human rights and the rule of law, and, when necessary, to aid in the resolution of conflicts that may arise.
Media representatives questioned the effectiveness of the mission, which has only six weeks on the ground, a period shorter than is the normal practice for election observer missions.The EU and the Carter Center were official observers of the 2005 election which ended in violence.The Carter Center declined an invitation to participate this year.
Listen to a report on the press conference in Amharic.