May 16, 2005
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopia's main opposition coalition said on Monday
it had won around 20 out of 23 seats in the capital Addis Ababa during Sunday's
parliamentary elections, citing unofficial results posted up at polling stations.
Ethiopia's opposition has posed a stronger challenge to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi than at previous elections, although his ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front is widely expected to win a majority in the 547-seat assembly.
"Results are still coming, but up to 20 of the 23 seats of the federal parliament (in the capital) have been won by the opposition," Debebe Eshetu, spokesman for the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), told Reuters.
He said his prediction was based on results forwarded to the CUD, although they have not been officially endorsed by the electoral board.
Information Minister Bereket Simon said the government acknowledged the opposition had made headway in the capital, which is home to at least four million of Ethiopia's population of about 72 million.
"I understand the opposition has a significant victory in Addis," Bereket told Reuters, adding that the government would make a statement later on Monday.
Ethiopia's opposition has mounted a more united challenge to Meles than at the country's first multi-party polls in 2000. It drew hundreds of thousands of supporters onto the streets of the capital for a rally held a week before the elections.