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Ethiopia's ruling Prosperity Party wins June election

July 11, 2021

The vote was a test for incumbent PM Abiy Ahmed, who will begin a second five-year term. It was delayed by the coronavirus twice and could not be held in some regions due to unrest, leaving seats empty in parliament.

Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is set for another five-year termImage: Tiksa Negeri/REUTERS

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his newly formed Prosperity Party were declared the landslide winners of Ethiopia's June 21 federal elections Saturday by the National Election Board. The announcement was made at an event in the capital Addis Ababa. 

Election Board Chairwoman Birtukan Mideksa acknowledged challenges but said the "voting process has guaranteed that people will be governed through their votes." Mideksa told reporters, "I want to confirm that we have managed to conduct a credible election."

Prime Minister Abiy called the vote the country's first free and fair election despite opposition boycotts and the fact that the voting could not be held in three of the country's 10 regions.

The detention of opposition figures and serious security concerns in some parts of the country led the US to call the vote "significantly flawed."

Abiy's Prosperity Party captured 410 of parliament's 436 open seats in the vote. One-fifth of seats in the body remain vacant as a result of postponed voting in some constituencies.

Ethiopians to vote in delayed election

Fragmented opposition cries foul

The country's fragmented opposition parties won just 11 seats. Birhanu Nega, leader of the main opposition party Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (ECFSJ), says his party filed more than 200 complaints with the electoral body over the vote.

Ethiopia, Africa's second largest country, has more than 37 million registered voters. The Election Board says turnout was just over 90%.

Five more years for Abiy

The victory means a second five-year term for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was appointed by the country's ruling coalition in April 2018, after his predecessor Hailemariam Desalegn stepped down amid widespread protest.

Abiy's appointment was preceded by his election as chairman of the coalition officially known as the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). He established himself as a political reformer and received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end his country's war with neighboring Eritrea.

Now, however, critics say he has begun to backtrack on political and media freedoms.

Dissolving a coalition, fracturing a country

Abiy dissolved the four-party ruling coalition EPRDF to form the Prosperity Party in 2019. The move led to a falling out with the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which had dominated the coalition for nearly three decades.

The situation erupted into armed conflict last November, leaving thousands dead and displacing some 2 million people. The United Nations (UN) has warned of famine in the region. Abiy's handling of the bloody conflict has garnered intense criticism.

Voting is currently scheduled to take place in the Harar and Somali regions in September, where it was postponed over to security concerns. No date has been set for voting in Tigray.

js/aw (AFP, AP, Reuters)