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Unformatted text preview: Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 2008 119 International Election Observers in Africa: The Case of Ethiopia Wondwosen Teshome B.* Abstract The question of inviting international election observers to monitor an election is one of the most controversial issues in Africa. Most of the time, the presence of international election monitors in emerging democracies is important to measure whether or not an election is conducted in a free and fair manner. But, sometimes it is regarded as the violation of a nations sovereignty. The major aim of this paper is to investigate the role and scope of international election observation. The paper looks at the importance of international election observation through the lens of a specific case study, the Ethiopian parliamentary election of 2005, which was without doubt the most monitored election in the history of the nation. It also describes the merits and demerits of involving international election monitors in the election processes in emerging democracies in Africa. In this paper, international election monitors of three major institutions namely, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM); the Carter Center, and the African Union (AU) election observers team are presented as case studies. Key words: Africa, Democracy, Election, Ethiopia, International Election Observers. I. Introduction In the last decade, a number of researchers examined the role of international election monitors in Africa 1 . Countries that started a transition to a multi-party democracy have been getting assistance from well-developed democracies in the West. The forms of these assistances include: finance, material supplies, institutional capacity building and skills development. International election observation is one of the principal elements of such assistance. 2 According to Reilly 3 , in many cases in developing countries the efficiency of internal election observers is questionable. Because, There are many ways to defraud an Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring 2008 120 election, and observes need to be highly trained to detect all but the most blatant forms of electoral fraud . Therefore, involving international observers in election processes in emerging democracies has become one of the solutions to such kind of election problems. IDEA 4 defines election observation as, The purposeful gathering of information regarding an electoral process and the making of informed judgments on the conduct of such a process on the basis of the information collected by persons who are not inherently authorized to intervene in the process, and whose involvement in mediation or technical assistance activities should not be such as to jeopardize their main observation responsibilities....
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