Ethiopia Opposition Leader Calls for New Vote

An opposition leader in Ethiopia has rejected the results from parliamentary elections that gave the ruling party an overwhelming victory and called for a new vote.

Hailu Shawl, leader of the All Ethiopians Unity party, told reporters Wednesday intimidation and fraud influenced Sunday’s election.

The United States and the European Union have both said the election appeared to fall short of international standards for a free and fair poll.

The latest results from Ethiopia’s election board show the EPRDF coalition taking at least 499 seats in parliament – 93 percent of the total – compared to just one seat for the main opposition coalition, Medrek.

Ethiopian women wait to cast their vote at a poling station in Mojo, 70 km south of Addis Ababa, 23 May 2010

U.S. National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer voiced disappointment that U.S. officials were limited in their ability to observe voting and were unable to travel outside the capital on election day.

The European Union observer mission also criticized the polls, saying the conditions for the election were tilted in favor of the ruling party.

An EU statement said government resources were used to help the ruling coalition, and that state-owned media devoted more than 50 percent of all news coverage to the ruling party.  The EU chief observer, Thijs Berman, also noted the government blocked other news sources, including VOA broadcasts.

The top U.S. diplomat for Africa, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, said Tuesday the Ethiopian government took “clear and decisive steps” that ensured it would win the election.

Other opposition leaders have denounced the election results as fraudulent.  They say the ruling party controlled all aspects of the poll.

Sunday’s election was the first in Ethiopia since a disputed 2005 vote that led to violent unrest.

RELATED NEWS FROM AL JAZEERA

A prominent Ethiopian opposition leader has called for a re-run of national elections held last Sunday, alleging the vote was flawed.

EU observers have said Sunday's vote favoured the ruling party [AFP]
EU observers have said Sunday's vote favoured the ruling party - AFP
Hailu Shawel, a leader of the All Ethiopians Unity Party and a prospective parliamentarian, has written a letter to the national election board asking for a repeat of the vote which saw a massive victory for the ruling party.

Shawel alleged that the government of Meles Zenwai, the prime minister, used intimidation against opposition supporters in addition to marshalling the state’s resources for partisan political gain.

Zenwai has ruled Ethopia since 1991 when he came to power in a military coup.

“The process of the elections was not democratic-building but was a regression in democracy,” Shawel said.

“It is unclear whether or not this call for new elections will change anything,” Andrew Simmons, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Addis Abba, the Ethiopian capital, said.

EU criticism

Shawel’s call for fresh elections came a day after European Union election observers said the election was held in “a narrowing political space” that favoured the ruling party.

Human Rights Watch criticised Sunday’s vote as corrupted by pre-election irregularities, including telling voters they could lose food assistance, public-sector jobs, loans and educational opportunities if they voted against the ruling
Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

According to provisional results, the EPRDF and allies had scored a landslide victory, winning an overwhelming number of votes in nine out of 11 regions and cities declared so far.

Meanwhile, Mike Hammer, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, has said that US embassy officials were denied accreditation and the opportunity to travel outside of the capital to observe voting.

“The limitation of independent observation and the harassment of independent media representatives are deeply troubling,” he said in a statement.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

Source: VOA and Al jazerra

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4 Comments

  1. are you joking? there will be no such thing another election with Weyane.
    this ppl will be on our sholdre for another 50 years thanks to the so called Tekawami.

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