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Some Ethiopian Constituencies Likely to Have Election Reruns

Election officials count ballot papers in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, after Sunday's third election in Ethiopia's 3,000-year history Monday, May 16, 2005
Ethiopia's National Electoral Board says it is likely that there will be reruns of the May 15 elections in some constituencies where there have been complaints of election fraud. The country's Supreme Court has also overturned a lower court decision barring the board from announcing provisional election results.

National Electoral Board spokesman Getahun Amogne told VOA he is fairly certain that teams investigating election irregularities will recommend that voters go back to the polls in certain constituencies. "So, definitely, there will be reruns in some of the constituencies because there might be irregularities. [In] how many of them [constituencies] are we going to have reruns? This will be entirely decided upon [in] the submission of the report by the committees," he said.

Mr. Getahun says that, by the middle of next week, the board is expected to announce the constituencies in which reruns are to be held.

The board is also to indicate whether or not it would be ready to release official election results on July 8. These results were originally supposed to be announced on June 8, but were delayed for one month so that the board could investigate election complaints.

If investigations are incomplete by July 8, says Mr. Getahun, the board could either announce uncontested results or wait until complaints have been sorted out and release all results at a later date.

Provisional election results of the May 15 elections indicate a victory for the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front. That sparked violent demonstrations and mass arrests of protesters who accused the coalition of massive vote rigging and other fraud.

The opposition successfully argued in high court that the board should be barred from releasing results until all fraud allegations have been investigated.

The board's Mr. Getahun said Ethiopia's Supreme Court has overturned that decision. "As long as these results are released as provisional, the board did not see any illegality in announcing those results. But, unfortunately, the Higher Court decided against the NEB [board]. The NEB did not see any legal ground on that decision. That is why the board had appealed to the Federal Supreme Court," he said.

VOA was unable to reach opposition officials for comment. Opposition and human rights officials had previously told VOA they thought that many provisional election results are tainted by fraud.