Ethiopia: Opposition crys Foul, Meles downplayed the claims

Ethiopian Election Ballot Box
Ethiopian Election Ballot Box
Ethiopian Election Ballot Box
Ethiopian Election Ballot Box

Ethiopian News | May 24, 2010 NTDTV

Ethiopian Prime Minister Expects to Retain Power in National Elections

More than 43,000 polling stations across the country opened for 12 hours. 32 million Ethiopians, some 90 percent of eligible voters, are expected to cast their ballots.

But the opposition is crying foul.

Members of the eight-party coalition opposition say the vote is being rigged by the ruling party, and some are being forbidden from voting.

The Oromo People’s Congress pointed to the number of policemen and soldiers out on the streets as examples of government scare tactics.

[Merera Gudina, Oromo People’s Congress]:
“The whole game is controlled by the local administration, called ‘Kabines’, and so on. In some areas the security personnel are around- as you see there are a lot of policemen in this very small village. A lot of soldiers are around; it’s a sign of intimidation of the local population to vote for the government.”

But incumbent Prime Minister Meles Zenawi downplayed the claims of coercion and trickery.

[Meles Zenawi, Ethiopian Prime Minister]:
“When push comes to shove, people vote alone. Nobody can be sure as to how people are going to vote when they are in the voting booth alone. So none of these accusations are going to have any substantive impact on the outcome of the elections.”

Zenawi, leader of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front, came to power in 1991. He led a group which ousted the former communist government that had killed hundreds of thousands during their 17-year-rule.