|Election officials count ballot papers in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, May 16, 2005|
A spokesman for the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia says the board could delay announcing official election results beyond the July 8 deadline if investigations into election irregularities take longer than anticipated.
National Electoral Board spokesman Getahun Amogne tells VOA the announcement of official results of the country's May 15 elections will depend on the progress the board makes in its investigations of election irregularities.
"The investigating teams are expected to leave Addis Ababa on Wednesday, so they will have a week's time maximum, to come up with their findings," he said. "So there is a question here, 'will these committees be able to come up with their findings in a week's time?'"
Mr. Getahun says the board intends to release official results on July 8. But, he says, investigators could be delayed by the large distances they need to travel and the remoteness of certain locations where irregularities have been reported.
If that is the case, he says, the board could either delay the announcement of official results on July 8, or release uncontested results on that day.
Provisional election results indicate a victory for the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front.
Earlier in the month, students, members and supporters of opposition parties, and others held demonstrations protesting the provisional results, accusing the ruling coalition of massive vote rigging and other fraud.
Initially, the National Electoral Board said it would investigate complaints in 299 constituencies, but later reduced that number to at least 136 constituencies.
Mr. Getahun says the other complaints were dismissed due to insufficient evidence.
He explains that opposition members and others dissatisfied with any board ruling can make a submission to a hearing that the board will be holding later this week.
The government and two opposition coalitions signed an agreement in recent weeks that spells out how to address irregularities and other complaints arising from the elections, and commits all sides to ending recent post-election violence.