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Ethiopia to hold legislative elections

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Ethiopia to hold legislative elections

Ethiopia Voters
Photo: AFP

Twice-postponed legislative elections will begin today in 445 of Ethiopia’s 547 constituencies.

The elections are Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s first since coming to power in 2018. His domestic liberalization campaign promised a turning point in Ethiopia’s democratic journey, and an Eritrea peace deal won Ahmed the Nobel Prize. Nonetheless, long simmering ethnic tensions have persisted, and a months-long conflict in the Tigray region has resulted in thousands of deaths and accusations of human rights abuses. Due to voting irregularities and ballot defects, Ethiopia’s remaining 102 constituencies will vote in September.

Although Ahmed tweeted that today will be Ethiopia’s “first attempt at free and fair elections,” various parties of Ethiopia’s fractured, ethnically based opposition are boycotting them, claiming voting should be delayed due to the pandemic and instability.

This election represents a national referendum on confidence in Ahmed’s leadership. Although the Prosperity Party (PP) is leading polls, members of Ahmed’s own Oromo ethnic group, and citizens hoping for meaningful democratic reforms, feel betrayed by his presidency. Expect Ahmed’s PP to prevail, albeit with a smaller majority than before and without improving Ethiopia’s strained ethnic tensions. Allegations of fraud are highly probable, with boycotting opposition parties likely refusing to acknowledge the results.

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