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Ethiopia's Ruling Party Leads in Over Half of Election Results Released

Official election results released Friday from more than half of Ethiopia's constituencies indicate a lead for the ruling party.

The spokesman for the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia, Getahun Amogne, tells VOA results from 307 of the country's 524 contested seats are now official.

The major contenders in the May 15 elections are the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, and the opposition groups Coalition for Unity and Democracy and United Ethiopian Democratic Forces.

Mr. Getahun says the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front has captured 139 seats, the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy, 93 seats, and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces, 42 seats.

The board is currently investigating allegations of electoral fraud in 140 constituencies. Mr. Getahun says the board is expected to rule on those complaints within two weeks.

"The decision will be either upholding the provisional results or ordering re-election," said Getahun Amogne. "If reelection is ordered, it will take again another week for the reelection. Those which do not require re-election, the election board in that week will announce them as official results."

The committee investigating the election complaints includes members of the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy.

Media reports initially indicated that the coalition had pulled out of the investigating committee late Thursday. The coalition later said it had only threatened to withdraw because of complaints it had about the process.

VOA was unable to reach the coalition for comment.

Last month, provisional results indicating a victory for the ruling coalition sparked violent demonstrations and mass arrests of people, who accused the ruling coalition of massive vote rigging and other fraud.

The ruling coalition and two opposition coalitions then signed an agreement to end post-election violence in the country.

Also last month, Human Rights Watch had issued a statement warning that opposition members and students all across Ethiopia were increasingly at risk of arbitrary arrest and torture by the government.