Ethiopia's ruling party wins election landslide

Dr. Merga Bekana, National Ethiopian Electoral Board Chairman, reads on 27 May 2015 in Addis Ababa the preliminary results of the 5th Ethiopian General Election which took place on 24 May 2015 (AFP Photo/Zacharias Abubeker)

Ethiopia‘s ruling party and its allies have won an overwhelming majority in parliament in weekend elections, the country’s electoral board announced Wednesday.

The EPRDF, in power in Africa’s second-most populous nation for over two decades, were widely expected to secure a near clean sweep of parliament, and the outgoing chamber had just one opposition MP.

According to preliminary results, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn secured all 442 parliamentary seats so far declared out of the 547 seats up for grabs, said Merga Bekena, president of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia.

Ahead of Sunday’s polls, which African Union observers said passed off without incident, the opposition alleged the government had used authoritarian tactics to guarantee victory.

But government spokesman Shimeles Kemal celebrated the win as the result of Ethiopia’s economic advances.

“Voters have credited the ruling party for the economic progress it introduced in the country,” he told AFP.

“They want the continuation of this policy. In view of the weak, fragmented opposition and the lack of viable alternative, it was very likely that the ruling party would win in a landslide.”

According to the electoral board, the EPRDF also took back the only seat that was held by the opposition, securing all 23 seats in the capital Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia has experienced near-double-digit economic growth and huge infrastructure investment — making the country one of Africa’s top-performing economies and a magnet for foreign investment.

According to the government spokesman, “voters have made stability, peace and security vital in their decision and for the past two decades the ruling party has secured stable and reliable security.”

Ethiopia’s former leader, Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012, was succeeded by Prime Minister Hailemariam, who has said he is committed to opening up the country’s political system to allow more space for opposition parties.

The African Union had deployed 59 observers for Sunday’s polls, but European Union and Carter Center observers, who were present for the 2010 vote, were not invited.

On Tuesday, the AU observer mission said the elections were “credible” and “generally consistent with the AU guidelines on the conduct of elections in Africa.”

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