ADDIS ABABA, July 10 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s prosperous party won the most seats in Ethiopia̵
Abiy hailed the vote on June 21 as the country’s first free and fair election after decades of oppressive rule. However, an opposition boycott, war in the northern Tigray region, ethnic violence and logistical challenges in some areas overshadowed the election. Voting did not take place in three of Ethiopia’s 10 regions.
Abiy’s party won 410 out of 436 parliamentary seats, Electoral Commission Vice President Woubshet Ayele announced in the capital Addis Ababa. Chairman Birtukan Mideksa said the board had delivered a credible election.
Opposition leader Berhanu Nega said his Ethiopian citizens for social justice (Ezema) had filed 207 complaints after local officials and militias blocked observers in the Amhara region and southern nations, nationalities and peoples region.
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 ruling coalition in 2018.
Within a few months of accession, Abiy lifted a ban on opposition parties, released tens of thousands of political prisoners and took steps to open one of Africa’s last untapped markets.
He is now facing international pressure over the war in Tigray and accusations from rights groups that his government is rolling back some new freedoms, which it denies.
Abiy’s newly created prosperity party faced a fragmented opposition from dozens of most ethnically based parties. The opposition parties Ezema and the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) each won less than 10 seats.
Voting in the Harar and Somali regions was delayed until September due to security issues and ballot problems.
No date has been set for voting in Tigray, where the military has been fighting forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the region’s former ruling party, since November. The fighting has displaced 2 million people and the UN has warned of famine in parts of the region.
In late June, the TPLF took control of most of Tigray and the regional capital of Mekelle eight months after the conflict broke out.
The government announced a unilateral ceasefire after days of TPLF progress. The TPLF has presented a list of seven demands that it says are a precondition for a ceasefire, including the withdrawal of the military and its allies from parts of Tigray, currently administered by the nearby Amhara region, which also claims the country.
Reporting by Dawit Endeshaw Writing by Maggie Fick Editing by Alexandra Zavis, Angus MacSwan and Pravin Char
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