EU observers say Ethiopia election ‘falls short’

EU chief obeserver at Ethiopian poll

EU observers have criticised Ethiopia’s election, as Prime Minister Meles Zenawi holds a victory rally attended by tens of thousands of people.

There was an “uneven playing field”, said chief EU observer Thijs Berman.

Mr Meles is heading for a landslide victory, election officials say but the opposition has complained of vote-rigging.

Violent protests over alleged fraud in the last poll in 2005 left about 200 people dead.

EU chief obeserver at Ethiopian poll
EU chief obeserver at Ethiopian poll

“This electoral process falls short of certain international commitments,” Mr Berman said, pointing to the use of state resources to campaign for the governing Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

He praised the elections for being peaceful and well organised but said the EU had received numerous reports of harassment and intimidation which were “of concern”.

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However, the head of the 170-strong EU team said these shortcomings did not necessarily affect the overall outcome.

Election and government officials have denied the charges of fraud, accusing the opposition of making excuses for its defeat.

At the rally in Addis Ababa’s Meskel Square, supporters of Mr Meles held up placards reading: “We chose our leaders, accept the results” and “Stop second guessing us”.

“The people’s vote will not be overturned by foreign forces,” said the prime minister, a US ally against Islamist militants in neighbouring Somalia.

But opposition leader Merera Gudina said his eight-party coalition was considering what action to take.

“I don’t see any reason why we should accept the results that were completely fraudulent.”

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Human Rights Watch said in the run-up to last Sunday’s vote, people were intimidated and threatened into joining and voting for the EPRDF – charges it strongly denies.

With about three-quarters of the results declared, election officials say the EPRDF is certain to retain its majority.

It is ahead in areas such as Oromia and Addis Ababa, where the opposition had been expected to do well.

Mr Meles – in power since 1991 – put the expected win down to an impressive track record, especially when it comes to economic growth.

The government has worked hard to improve infrastructure, especially in the urban areas and access to social services like healthcare has increased.

Source: BBC

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2 Comments

  1. This is absolutely fabricated news about the free, fair and democratic election held on Sunday. I was here in Addis and followed the election process from November 2009 till now. I confidently witnessed that I haven’t seen a single Military personnel putting pressure on public to register and vote for EPRDF like HRW said. intention of HRW groundless accusations is to create violence against the active and massive participation of the public in the historic election.

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