Government in Ethiopia Is on Track to Win With 100% of Vote – New York Times

by Zelalem

Ethiopia’s governing party and its allies are poised to control every seat in the nation’s Parliament, according to official results announced Monday by the country’s electoral board.

In the last election, held five years ago, only one opposition member and one independent candidate won seats in Parliament.

This year’s results are even more one-sided: The governing party and its allies have won 100 percent of the races announced so far, giving them control of 546 seats.

The results from one remaining constituency, where polling was delayed by violent skirmishes, have yet to be disclosed.

Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country, is constitutionally a multiparty democracy. But the governing party has long dominated political life in the country, with opposition figures and international groups saying that everything from aid to jobs is doled out to maintain political loyalties.

The chairman of the electoral board, Merga Bekana, said this year’s elections were conducted in a “free, fair, peaceful, credible and democratic manner.”

But opposition party members disagreed, pointing to an uneven playing field and continuing efforts to intimidate those who challenge the governing Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, which is itself a coalition of four regional parties.

“It’s a tough time for Ethiopia,” said Yilkal Getnet, chairman of the opposition party, Semayawi. “A 100 percent win should never be accepted as reality.”

Opposition leaders say that three of their members have been killed since elections were held on May 24. One was a candidate for Semayawi, and the others belonged to Medrek. Spokesmen for both parties say the killings were politically motivated, noting that all three had been harassed by governing party officials previously.

“These are non-ambiguous acts of reprisal, and these acts are becoming deadly,” said Beyene Petros, chairman of Medrek.

Members of the governing coalition say that investigations into the episodes are continuing, and they contend that the election results reflect public satisfaction with Ethiopia’s economic growth, poverty reduction programs and investments in infrastructure.

The government will stay its course for the next five years, said Getachew Reda, an adviser to the prime minister who recently won a seat in Parliament.

“No sea change in terms of policy,” he said, “just a fine-tuning on the basis of what has transpired over the last five years.”

Despite concerns over its human rights record, Ethiopia is a major aid recipient and defense partner of the United States. In late July, President Obama is scheduled to become the first sitting American president to visit the country.

The four regional parties that make up the governing front will in the coming months nominate members to the coalition’s 45-member executive committee.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is expected to retain his post at least until 2020.

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