Ethiopia Ruling Party Celebrates Election Win; EU Has Concerns

Election officials close the last ballot box at a polling station
Election officials close the last ballot box at a polling station in Addis Ababa's historic district at the end of voting day, 23 May 2010

VOA 25 May 2010

The European Union says it has concerns about Sunday’s election in Ethiopia, won by the ruling party in a landslide.

Ethiopia’s elections board says the EPRDF coalition won 477 seats, about 87 percent of the seats in parliament.  Tens of thousands of EPRDF supporters celebrated the win at a rally in Addis Ababa Tuesday.

However, the EU observer mission says it saw government resources being used to help the ruling party during the campaign.

Chief observer Thijs Berman says the mission also received complaints of harassment and intimidation.  He says the “sheer volume and consistency of the complaints” is a matter of concern.

Leaders of main opposition coalition Medrek are denouncing the election results as fraudulent.  They say the ruling party controlled all aspects of the poll.

Ethiopia’s national electoral board has said the voting was free, fair and democratic.

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

Riots broke out in Addis Ababa after the EPRDF was named the winner of that election.  Government forces killed nearly 200 demonstrators and arrested about 100 opposition figures who challenged the results.

Election officials say voter turnout in this year’s poll was more than 90 percent.

Sunday’s parliamentary election was the fourth since the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front seized power in 1991.