News / Africa

Ethiopia Opposition Leaders Call for New Vote

Ethiopian opposition groups are rejecting election results that show the ruling party and its allies winning nearly every seat in parliament.

The eight-party Medrek coalition and the separate All Ethiopians Unity Party each issued calls Wednesday for a re-run of Sunday's vote.

Provisional election results show the ruling EPRDF coalition and allied parties taking all but three of 537 parliamentary seats.  Medrek has won only a single seat, from the capital, Addis Ababa.

Medrek chairman Beyene Petros said the coalition wants a new election in the presence of independent observers.

Both Medrek and the AEU party say their observers were blocked from entering polling stations on Sunday, and in some cases beaten.  

The United States and the European Union have both criticized the election as falling short of international standards.

Ethiopia's government and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi have said the election was free, fair and democratic.

Also Wednesday, a Medrek leader, Merera Gudina, said two opposition members have been shot dead and at least 100 others arrested in what he called a post-election government crackdown.  

Government Information Minister Bereket Simon denied the opposition is being targeted.  He said one man was shot and killed after he stormed a polling station where votes were being counted.

Sunday's election was the first in Ethiopia since a disputed 2005 vote that led to violent unrest.  Government security forces killed nearly 200 people while putting down demonstrations after that poll.

Human rights groups say Ethiopia's government took steps to ensure it would score a clear victory in this year's election.

Human Rights Watch said the ruling party used threats and control of state media to pressure voters into supporting the EPRDF.  Ethiopia rejected that criticism Tuesday and said the rights group should not try to undermine the Ethiopian people's will.



Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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