GPS coord.
lat.: 9.30976
lon.: 42.1273
An Ethiopian Election
May 20, 2005

Years ago, I was told, "Cambodia is perfectly safe; just don't be here during an election!" The same holds true for many 3rd world countries. 

The Ethiopian election definitely had the possibility of trouble.  Ethiopia was ruled over by Monarchs until 1974.  Communist and military dictatorships followed from there.  This election is the first-ever truly democratic election.  Everyone was a bit on edge - no one knew what would happen if the ruling party lost. 

In Addis Ababa, I learned little about the political parties or their platforms.  But, I did an extremely informal survey, and found that 9 out of 10 hookers in the Piazza supported the main opposition party.  Really, it seemed that everyone in the Piazza supported the opposition party.  The bumblebee was the symbol for the ruling party and two fingers held up for victory or peace was the symbol for the opposition.  My neighborhood in Addis was very pro-opposition with people constantly flashing this hand-gesture at one another.

For the day of the balloting, I was in Harrar.  The election was extremely quiet and orderly.  At each polling station, two soldiers were watching for trouble from a very respectful distance.  There was no trouble. 

According to reports in the newspapers, an astounding 90% of registered voters voted in the election.

Jimmy Carter flew into the country to observe the election.  Google's CEO's Larry Page and Sergey Brin came along with him.  The gossip section of the paper reported that the two CEOs dropped into a souvenir shop on Churchill Road in Addis Ababa (only a few blocks from my hotel) and bought half the shop.

Suddenly Ethiopia felt like the very super hip place to be.  It wasn't related to the election, but Brad Pitt was also in town.  My Australian friends were in the Sheraton when Brad walked by just a few feet from them.  These friends were usually wild and crazy, but in the presence of Brad Pitt they turned suddenly shy and unable to say anything or ask for his autograph.

Jimmy Carter praised the election and said it was all good and fair.  My Ethiopian friends were not nearly convinced.  We'll just have to wait and see what happens when the results are announced.

Leave a comment!  I'm much more inspired to write when I know people are reading. 

mo - Sept 09, 2005

Interesting!  Did you do any election witnessing?

What's next on the itinerary?

Inga - Oct 01, 2005

Indescribable experience...  Being aware of elections while travelling.  A good tip for tourists.
Thank you.

Dr. Ermias Mamo - Feb 19, 2006

Your informal poll about election outcomes in
Addis Ababa was right for the money.  You are a born ethnographer!


Dr. Ermias Mamo - Feb 19, 2006

Your informal poll about election outcomes in
Addis Ababa was right for the money.  You are a born ethnographer!


Tim Meier - Mar 16, 2006

You still alive???


Alive and well...  for the moment I'm in Egypt doing a bit of programming -- working two hours a day on the beach.  :-)


just - Apr 23, 2006


Leave a comment


Email addresses are private.


HTML is not supported.

Spam check:
Enter this number: