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EPRDF wins again in Ethiopia as opposition cries foul

Ethiopia's ruling party has won the latest elections by a landslide. The result is based on an early vote count after a weekend election in which opposition parties had complained that their supporters were harassed.

Ethiopia's ruling party and its allies won a large majority in parliament, the country's election board announced on Wednesday. The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and its allies won 442 seats out of 547 in an election in which more than 50 parties took part.

The EPRDF, in power for nearly 25 years now, suffered something of a diminishing return in the weekend's vote. In the 2010 elections, which were also tainted by allegations of official abuse, the opposition had won just a single seat.

Though the EPRDF's victory appears decisive, final official results won't come until June 22.

'Intimidation and harrassment'

Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, a former university professor who has led Ethiopia since the strongman Meles Zenawi died in 2012, dismissed charges that EPRDF agents had coerced and beaten opposition voters. Human rights watchdogs consider Ethiopia's regime among Africa's most repressive, with 19 journalists and bloggers currently imprisoned and others having fled the country.

"While political parties have generally been able to participate in election campaigning, there are reports of intimidation and harassment of opposition political party members and supporters," Amnesty International's Rachel Nicholson said ahead of the vote.

Authorities claimed a turnout topping 85 percent of the 36 million voters in the nation of more than 90 million people. The elections were held Sunday, but voting was extended to Monday at some colleges and universities owing to a lack of ballots.

mkg/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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