Ethiopians cast vote in historic general elections

Ethiopian Flag: Ethiopians cast vote in historic general elections.

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes on Sunday, May 24th, in the country’s fifth general elections. The general elections consist of both national and regional elections.

The 2015 elections are historic for Ethiopia because these are the country’s first elections since the country’s longtime leader, Meles Zenawi, died in 2012. Meles Zenawi was Ethiopia’s Prime Minister from 1995 until his death in 2012.

Meles Zenawi was the Head of Ethiopia’s current ruling party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), since its formation in 1991. The EPRDF is a coalition of regional parties. Zenawi is credited with having built the ruling EPRDF coalition into a powerful political organization.

Ethiopia’s current Prime Minister and Chairman of the EPRDF, Hailemariam Desalegn, has been leading the country since Zenawi’s death.

Desalegn previously served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs under Zenawi from 2010 to 2012. Desalegn also served as the Chairperson of the African Union from 2013 to 2014.

Ethiopia is a federal parliamentary republic, with the party or coalition that wins the most seats in the 547-seat parliament forming the government. All seats were at stake on Sunday but Desalegn is expected to remain in power.

During Ethiopia’s election five years ago, the ruling EPRDF won 99.6% of parliamentary seats. The EPRDF won all but two of the seats in the 547-seat parliament and one of the two the party failed to win went to an ally.

Just like in 2010, analysts do not see much of a challenge for the EPRDF in the just concluded elections and the EPRDF is expected to maintain its hold on power.

More than 38 million registered voters were eligible to cast ballots on Sunday. Ethiopia has a population of 96 million people.

Voting was set to commence from 6:00 AM with all polling stations open until 6:00 PM. Nearly 250,000 election observers were assigned to monitor over 45,000 polling stations.

According to the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia, provisional results will be disseminated in a week with final results to be released on June 22nd.

The elections are expected to hand a landslide win to Desalegn’s EPRDF which boasts of delivering strong economic growth.

In power for almost a quarter of a century, Ethiopia’s ruling EPRDF has overseen the transformation of the country into one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and Sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth biggest economy.

Ethiopia’s GDP is expected to grow by 10.5% in 2015, according to the World Bank. The country has registered impressive GDP growth for several years, ranging between 6% and 12%, depending on source data.

Ethiopia is the second most populous country (Population: 96 million) in Sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria.

The government of Ethiopia follows an integrated 5-year development plan, the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), which aims to achieve 11.2 – 14.9% GDP growth annually, as well as achieve the Millennium Development Goals and attain middle-class income status by 2025.