ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (Abaypress)-Ethiopia’s ruling Prosperity Party was proclaimed the overwhelming victor of last month’s national election on Saturday, ensuring Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed a second five-year term.
According to Ethiopia’s National Election Board, the governing party won 410 seats out of 436 in the federal parliament, leaving dozens of seats empty after one-fifth of districts did not vote owing to violence or logistical issues. Ethiopia is likely to create a new government in October.
The election was a key test for Abiy, who came to power in 2018 following the resignation of the former prime minister amid huge demonstrations. Abiy supervised significant political changes that earned him a Nobel Peace Prize the following year, but opponents accuse him of reversing course on political and media freedoms. Abiy has also received widespread international condemnation for his handling of the Tigray war, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.
The poll in June, which had been postponed twice due to the COVID-19 epidemic and logistical problems, was mostly peaceful, although opposition parties accused the government of harassing and intimidating voters. In the Tigray area, there was no vote.
The poll has been lauded by Abiy as the country’s first effort at a free and fair election, but the US has labeled it “seriously flawed,” citing the arrest of certain opposition figures and instability in regions of Africa’s second most populous country.
Birhanu Nega, the leader of Ethiopia’s largest opposition Citizens for Social Justice party, was defeated, with opposition groups winning only 11 seats. The Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party has filed 207 election complaints with the electoral authority.
The election was boycotted by popular opposition groups in Ethiopia’s Oromia region, the country’s largest federal state. In a number of constituencies, the ruling party ran alone.
During Saturday’s announcement, the president of the electoral board, Birtukan Mideksa, noted that the poll was held at a time when Ethiopia was facing problems, but that “this voting process has ensured that people would be ruled via their ballots.”
“I want to affirm that we were able to have a credible election,” she continued.
The voter turnout among the more than 37 million individuals who were registered to vote was slightly over 90%.
After the collapse of Ethiopia’s previous ruling coalition, which was controlled by Tigray MPs, the Prosperity Party was founded. Disagreements over that choice sparked the first tensions between Abiy and Tigray leaders, which culminated in the region’s war in November.
Though Abiy suggested in 2018 that Ethiopian prime ministers will be limited to two terms, it is unclear if he will follow through.