Ethiopia’s election turned out to be rather a peaceful one, against the anticipation of western powers that have been putting pressure on Ethiopia on alleged grounds of “humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.”
Voters have been casting their votes in the first leg of the 6th general election, which was postponed twice, in many parts of the country. Polling stations opened as early as 6:00 a.m local time and there were long queues in most areas where the voting took place.
In the areas where voting did not take place today, it is scheduled to take place in early September.
The National Electoral Board of Ethiopia announced that no security problem was encountered during the voting process. However, there were reported irregularities in some parts of the country. Amhara region, Southern Nations Nationalities and People’s Region and Afar region are some of the areas where election observers were reportedly experiencing challenges.
Some observers were restricted in their movement. Others were dispossessed of badges . Still others were even beaten – seemingly by authorities. Chairwomen of the Election Board, Birtukan Midekssa, called on regional authorities to stop abusing observers. ” It would compromise the credibility of the election,” she said.
There were also other reported irregularities. Asked about it by journalists in the capital Addis Ababa, one of the opposition leaders, Berhanu Nega, said “Yes there are irregularities here and there. But so long as they do not affect the outcome of it,” they can not be considered as major problems.
However, there are reports of election irregularities in different parts of the country. Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice Party ( EZEMA – whose leader is Berhanu Nega) and National Movement of Amhara (NaMA) leaders said they have received reports of irregularities.
No European observers during this election. The African Union deployed election observers under the leadership of former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, called for the election to be peaceful and for the opposition parties to refrain from taking forceful measures.
Ethiopia’s Electoral Board extended hours of operation of polling stations until 9 : 00 p.m local time due to reported long queues at the polling stations. There were also reported delays in the voting process – another consideration taken into account to extend the hours. Initially, all polling stations were scheduled to close at 6: 00 P.M. local time.
In a brief statement given in the evening, the board called election officials to close stations and start counting if all the registered voters for the station have casted vote.
Ethiopian Political Parties council has called on opposition party members not to disclose results until the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia officially announces it.
Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice Party, National Movement of Amhara (NaMA), and the ruling Prosperity Party (PP) are believed to be the heavy weights contesting in this election. In Addis Ababa, Balderas For True Democracy, whose leader Eskinder Nega is thrown in jail, is contesting and is expected to have considerable seats. In some areas, including in areas where there are large constituencies, the ruling party seems to be running without a challenger.
Radical ethnic Oromo Nationalists parties, including Merara Gudina’s party, have boycotted the election.