Voters in Ethiopia are electing a new parliament for the first time since a flawed 2005 poll that resulted in violence.
Sunday’s vote has been largely peaceful, but Medrek, the main opposition group, has complained that observers from its party have been denied access to polling stations.
The ruling party is predicting a landslide victory in what the government promised to be a fair and transparent election.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had said the opposition planned to provoke violence – a charge the opposition denied.
Ethiopia’s 32 million registered voters are electing 547 lawmakers. Voter turnout has been high.
Human Rights Watch says the Ethiopian government has “waged a coordinated and sustained attack on political opponents, journalists, and rights activists” ahead of the elections.
Final results from Sunday’s election are not expected until June 21.
The 2005 elections ended tragically, as troops gunned down nearly 200 opposition activists protesting alleged vote rigging.
Sunday’s parliamentary election is the fourth since the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front seized power in 1991.
Analysts say the ruling EPRDF is likely to retain the solid lock on power it has held for 19 years. But critics are questioning whether the results will reflect the people’s will.
Opposition party leaders say some voters have been told the ruling party can see their ballots, which are supposed to be secret.
HRW has recently accused the ruling EPRDF coalition of denying humanitarian aid to opposition supporters.
source: VOA and Al jazeera