PM Abiy’s party registers landslide win in Ethiopia poll win

Monday, July 12th, 2021 00:00 |
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attends his last campaign event ahead of Ethiopia’s elections scheduled in Jimma, Ethiopia in June. Originally scheduled for August 2020, it was postponed until June 5 due to coronavirus pandemic. It was delayed again to enable more time to tackle voter registration. Photo/AFP

Addis Ababa, Sunday

Ethiopia’s governing Prosperity Party has won the most seats in the country’s parliamentary election, according to official results, a victory that assures Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed a second five-year term in office.

In a statement posted on Twitter on Saturday, Abiy hailed the June 21 vote as a historically inclusive election.

“Our party is also happy that it has been chosen by the will of the people to administer the country,” he added.

The election marked the first time Abiy faced voters since he was appointed prime minister in 2018 following several years of anti-government protests.

But an opposition boycott, war in the northern region of Tigray, ethnic violence and logistical challenges in some areas overshadowed the poll.

Voting did not take place at all in three of Ethiopia’s 10 regions.

Abiy’s Prosperity Party won 410 seats in the federal parliament out of 436 where elections were held, according to results issued by the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), which said there would be a rerun in 10 constituencies.

The leader of the main opposition Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party, Birhanu Nega, lost while the opposition parties Ezema and the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) each won less than 10 seats.

Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi, reporting from the Ethiopian capital, said the Prosperity Party’s win came as “no surprise”.

“Abiy’s Prosperity Party has been leading from the very start,” she said from Addis Ababa. “But some analysts we’ve been talking to say they are very worried now that parliament is dominated by the prime minister’s party.”

“It’s going to be very hard for the parliament members to properly hold the prime minister and his government to account, to ask the tough questions. They are saying what we might see going forward is more opposition from outside parliament.”

A test for Abiy

The election was the first test of voter support for Abiy, who promised political and economic reforms when he was appointed prime minister by the governing coalition in 2018.

Within months of taking office, Abiy lifted a ban on opposition parties, released tens of thousands of political prisoners and took steps to open up the Ethiopian economy.

He now faces international pressure over the war in Tigray and accusations from rights groups that his government is rolling back some new freedoms, which it denies.

In Abiy’s native Oromia region, Ethiopia’s largest, two of the most prominent opposition parties –  the Oromo Federalist Congress and the Oromo Liberation Front – pulled out entirely, saying their candidates had been arrested and offices vandalised. That meant the governing party ran alone in several dozen constituencies.

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