Conflict over Ethiopia election results
afrol News, 28 May - Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the opposition disagree over the preliminary result indicating a landslide victory for Mr Meles. The PM warns protests may have "dire" consequences.
The Ethiopian election commission has published preliminary results that would the ruling EPRDF a landslide victory in Sunday's elections. The EPRDF won 499 seats and the main opposition coalition of eight parties, Medrek (Forum), won only one out of 547 seats in the Addis Ababa parliament.
Even Prime Minister Meles expressed some surprise over his party's landslide victory. The premier told the press in Addis Ababa that the EPRDF had won more than its expectation, which had set out to secure 50 to 75 percent of the vote in the election.
The opposition was less surprised, alleging election fraud and widespread intimidation before the polls. Also, the strongly censored national press had been strongly in favour of the EPRDF, according to the opposition and human rights groups.
Opposition parties Medrek and the All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP) therefore will not accept the results and have already sent a letter to the national election board calling for a fresh poll, pointing to evidence of fraud.
Medrek chairman Beyene Petros told reporters his party's election observers were turned away at poll centres and voters and candidates were intimidated. "The situation was full of intimidation and irregularities deliberately orchestrated by the ruling party," Mr Beyene said. "We will not accept the results and we will call for fresh election," the veteran opposition leader added.
Prime Minister Meles, on the other hand, warned the opposition not go too far in its protest against the election results, having the riots after the 2005 poll freshly in mind.
Asked about complaints of opposition parties on the election results the Ethiopian Premier said as far as they channel their complaints in peaceful manner through legal process for pertinent bodies, they can forward grievances. However, if they do otherwise, the outcome would be "dire," he warned.
Prime Minister Meles further emphasised that there was nothing strange about the massive support given the EPRDF by Ethiopian voters, reminding journalists that his government had provided the country with double-digit economic growth rates for many years. Mr Meles said a massive pro-EPRDF rally held on Tuesday in Addis Ababa was a clear message to his critics that the Ethiopian people indeed had supported his government.
Asked how he would use his massive majority in the new Ethiopian parliament, PM Meles said the EPRDF would now revise its five-year plan following "the great responsibility entrusted to it by the people of Ethiopia." He said government's plan was to register 10.1 percent economic growth on average, expanding micro and small enterprise development and ensuring good governance issues, which needed to be revised for the next five years.
By staff writer
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