Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed is prepared for a second time period after the occasion’s election victory: NPR
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, pictured in June, was granted a second term after his Prosperity Party was declared the winner of last month’s national elections. Mulugeta Ayene / AP Hide caption
Mulugeta Ayene / AP
Mulugeta Ayene / AP
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Ethiopia’s ruling Prosperity Party was declared the winner of last month’s national elections on Saturday, promising Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed a second five-year term.
The National Electoral Body of Ethiopia said the ruling party won 410 of 436 controversial seats in the federal parliament, which will result in dozens more seats remaining vacant after a fifth of constituencies fail to vote due to unrest or logistical reasons. The new government of Ethiopia is to be formed in October.
The vote was a major test for Abiy, who came to power in 2018 after the former prime minister resigned amid widespread protests. Abiy oversaw dramatic political reforms, some of which resulted in a Nobel Peace Prize the following year, but critics say he is withdrawing political and media freedoms. Abiy has also drawn massive international criticism for his handling of the conflict in the Tigray region, in which thousands of people were killed.
The June vote, postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic and logistical issues, was largely peaceful, but opposition parties condemned harassment and intimidation. There was no vote in the Tigray region.
Abiy has hailed the elections as the country’s first attempt at a free and fair vote, but the United States called it “grossly flawed,” citing the detention of some oppositionists and the insecurity in parts of Africa’s second most populous country.
The leader of the largest opposition party, Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice, Birhanu Nega, lost, while the opposition parties only won 11 seats. The Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party lodged 207 complaints with the electoral body about the vote.
Popular opposition parties in the Oromia region, Ethiopia’s largest state, boycotted the election. The ruling party ran in several dozen constituencies alone.
In a social media post late Saturday, Abiy described the election as historic as it was conducted “free of any influence” by an electoral body. He promised to accept some of the opposition members who took part in the election into his new government.
Electoral Bureau Chairman Birtukan Mideksa said on Saturday’s announcement that the vote came at a time when Ethiopia was facing challenges, “but this voting process has guaranteed that the people will be governed by their votes.”
She added: “I want to confirm that we managed to hold a credible election.”
Voter turnout was just over 90% of the more than 37 million registered people.
The Prosperity Party was founded after the former ruling coalition of Ethiopia, which had been dominated by Tigray politicians, dissolved. Disagreements over this decision signaled the first tensions between the leaders of Abiy and Tigray, which eventually led to conflict in the region in November.
Although Abiy indicated in 2018 that Ethiopia will limit the term of office of a prime minister to two, it is not clear whether he will act accordingly.
Desalegn Chanie, a member of Amhara’s opposition National Movement who won a seat in parliament, told The Associated Press that the electoral committee did well overall but failed in its primary duty to be impartial and to judge complaints fairly.
“Local election officials, armed men and cadres snatched badges from election observers and even beat them,” he said.