Addis Ababa, March 29, 2020 – Ethiopian Olympic Committee (EOC) and Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF) have been in a tug of war for the past couple of years. And it doesn’t look like it is going to end soon.
This was manifested once again today, when EOC said they were conducting an extraordinary electoral assembly at their offices and elected incumbent president, Dr. Ashebir Woldegiyorgis for another four year term. The committee also elected legendary athletes Birhane Adere and Haile Gebrselassie as First Vice President and Vice President respectively.
This did not go down well with EAF, as they listed dozens of reasons to object the entirety of the election and pointed out thatthere were irregularities committed by the national committee leading up to the polls. EAF said, the general assembly of the NOC adopted a decision to conduct the election after the completion of 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in January this year, but, without a proper legal procedure the president and his allies called an extraordinary general assembly a couple of weeks ago, to pass a fixed election criteria that aimed to block potential candidates from taking part and set a new election date which only the incumbent knew.
Last Thursday, after a couple of hours’ it was announced that EAF President Derartu Tulu would be recognized nationally for her athletics achievements. EOC announced that the elective general assembly would take place on the same day (Yesterday) but, failed to hold it due to security issues in Hawasa.
However, EOC managed to hold its elective meeting this morning, presumably in a secret way at its compound in Addis Ababa. By the time the athletics federation representatives arrived in the place after they learned there is a meeting taking place, it was all over and the results were being sent to IOC.
The drama was unfolded afterwards. There were arguments from the national federation representatives who are not taking part in the elections and the national Olympic Committee. The police raided the compounds of EOC and followed by the protest marching towards the premises by the Olympic athletes who are expected to represent Ethiopia in the upcoming Games at Tokyo.
The athletes and coaches protest with banners that reads, ‘the unfair and illegal election procedure and dictatorial leadership of the president’ should be stopped by the responsible national and international parties.
It’s unclear where the road is leading regarding the end of this confrontation as both camps are not showing a slightest of signs to drop a towel. Just a week before 11 national federations, most of them are not taking part in the election today, wrote a protest letter for IOC and their International federations about the maladministration, while EOC also responded with a detailed 16 pages letter for every accusations forwarded against.
Meanwhile, after the results of today’s controversial election were announced by the committee, Oromia Regional state sport commission protested the timing of the election and reminded the EOC to stick to previously agreed election date and Ethiopian Football Federation also suspended one of its Executive Committee member, who was elected as an Executive Board member of the EOC, and its deputy Secretary General for taking part in the election and writing a support letter without its consent.
Police took both parties for further questioning after hours of standof.