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Ethiopian Opposition Claims Victory

Ethiopia’s main opposition parties say they’re on course to win the parliamentary elections – contradicting the ruling party’s claims of victory. The ruling party says it’s won more than half the vote in last Sunday’s polls.

But the opposition – the Coalition for Unity and Democracy, CUD, and the United Ethiopian Democratic Front – say that’s not true. They say initial results show they’ve taken more than 200 seats in about 250 constituencies where counting has been completed.

Ethiopia’s National Election Board has not confirmed any results, saying a provisional tally will be announced on Saturday. Final results are expected June 8th.

The European Union and the United States have cautioned both sides to wait for final results.

Sahilu Baye is a member of the Central Committee for the Ethiopian Democratic Unity Party, one of the four parties that make up the opposition CUD. Mr. Sahilu says the opposition is doing well in rural areas, which the government says is its stronghold. He told English to Africa reporter William Eagle that the opposition’s conclusions are based on the receipts agreed upon by officials and observers at individual polling stations.

Yesterday, a spokesman for the ruling EPRDF party told VOA that it also used polling station receipts – but reached the opposite conclusion. The ruling party says, for example, that it has carried much of the rural vote - - which observers say make up a majority of the electorate. It also says it has carried three of the largest regions – Amhara, Oromia, and Tigrinia.

Opposition spokesman Sahilu Baye says government authorities intimidate rural voters to support the ruling party. He also alleges fraud. The EPRDF spokesman accuses the opposition of trying to have it both ways: saying the elections were fraudulent, but supporting tallies that show anti-government forces winning, especially in towns and cities.