Ethiopia elections 2021: The misinformation circulating online

As Ethiopia prepares for parliamentary elections on Monday, some online users have been posting misleading content and claims.

Access to social media in Ethiopia is relatively low compared with elsewhere on the continent but its use is rising rapidly, particularly around events such as national elections.

Just days before the vote, Facebook shut down accounts which it said had been posting misinformation.

The PM did not say he would ‘rather die’ than hand over power

It’s been one of the most widely shared pieces of fakery during the election campaign – an audio recording, apparently of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, allegedly leaked from a top-level meeting of the ruling party.

The prime minister can be heard saying he would “rather die” than leave office.

The recording was originally posted by Kello Media, an online news service based in the United States, claiming it was authentic.

My Abiy’s office subsequently released a statement saying the audio was a fake and that it had been “put together by drawing on different unrelated remarks made by the prime minister”.

The BBC’s Amharic language service has analysed the audio and identified distinct jumps, as well as variations in volume and audio quality, strongly suggesting it had been manipulated.

Three separate sections of the audio were traced back to previous public recordings of Mr Abiy.

Ethiopia is not planning nuclear attack on Egypt

This is a rather more far-fetched claim but highlights the tensions between Ethiopia and its neighbours over a vast new dam built on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia.

It’s one of Abiy Ahmed’s proudest achievements, but the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and its impact on water flow downstream has been highly controversial.

A Facebook page operating from Egypt has been posting unverified claims about the row, including one that Ethiopia plans a nuclear attack on Egypt.

“It is very strange that there are dozens of news [stories] that began to escalate about Ethiopia’s readiness to launch a nuclear strike on Egypt, especially after the escalation of the Renaissance Dam crisis at unprecedented rates,” the post says.

But Ethiopia doesn’t possess nuclear weapons. In fact, no African state currently has nuclear weapons.

Most of the countries in Africa are part of the UN Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones whereby they have pledged not to have nuclear weapons and agreed to verification of their compliance.

Have voter registration numbers been inflated?

In a country made up of many regions competing for political influence, the number of voters registered in each area is a highly charged issue.

A series of posts have been shared questioning the official registration figures issued by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE).

While we can’t confirm whether the figures given by NEBE reflect voter populations accurately (the last census was carried out in Ethiopia in 2007), the posts being shared provide no evidence to back up their claims of manipulation.

Source: Yahoo news

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