May 31, 2005

Oromo: Ethiopia Ruling Party Consolidates Poll Lead

Ethiopia's ruling party and its allies secured a clear majority in May 15 parliamentary elections, according to the latest provisional results released on Monday, prompting fresh opposition calls for recounts
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Ethiopia's ruling party and its allies secured a clear majority in May 15 parliamentary elections, according to the latest provisional results released on Monday, prompting fresh opposition calls for recounts.

Both the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the opposition have accused each other of attempting to rig votes in the polls, the second set of real multi-party elections in Africa's top coffee grower.

Official results from the elections, which despite the latest figures have delivered a far bigger swing to the opposition than many observers had expected, are due on June 8.

"The Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), has won 292 seats and its allied parties won 19 more, giving the ruling party a majority of 311 seats in parliament," said Kemal Bedre, the chairman of the National Electoral Board.

The ruling party has still lost ground compared to the previous election in 2000 when it won around 520 seats in the 547-seat federal parliament.

Provisional results showed the main opposition group the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) had so far won 114 seats, and its allied United Ethiopian Democratic Front 49 seats, the board said.

The opposition Oromo Federalist Democratic Movement took 10, it said. Results for more seats in the country of more than 70 million are expected over the next few days.

Opposition parties rejected the latest result as unacceptable, reiterating accusations that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's EPRDF party had cheated in many seats.

"We see results from polling stations where we have logged complaints of rigging posted at the election board in favour of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). We do not recognise such results and demand that the Board conduct investigations by a neutral body," said Beyene Petros, chairman of the United Ethiopian Democratic Front.

"Many opposition candidates who had been certified as winners by the election board are now considered losers. Our supporters are perturbed by this daylight robbery," he added.

Berhanu Nega, deputy chairman of the CUD, urged the Election Board to extend the June 8 deadline for when final results will be announced, saying there were still unresolved complaints.

The board said it would consider the request.

Source: Reuters