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Opposition: Ethiopia, a 'de facto One-Party State’

Ethiopian opposition groups announced Wednesday they are rejecting the results from Sunday’s parliamentary elections.

Merera Gudina of the Medrek coalition told VOA the National Electoral Board should conduct another election because the last one was massively rigged by the ruling EPDRF.

The Ethiopian Electoral Commission Wednesday released results from 98 percent of the voting precincts.The spokesman of the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia, Mohamed AbdulRahman, told VOA the results show that the incumbent ruling party of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the EPDRF, won 499 of 536 seats.

In the capital Addis Ababa, traditionally an opposition stronghold, the EPRDF took 20 of 23 seats. Five years ago, the opposition held all the seats in the city.

The opposition lost heavily in areas previously known to carry the majority of its support. In Addis Ababa, Medrek won only a single seat. This has been translated by many analysts as a sign that the ruling party rigged the elections.
“The whole process is completely fraud,” said Medrek’s Gudina. He added that the opposition was united in rejecting the election results. Medrek officials say that their poll officials were blocked from accessing polling stations and, in many cases, were harassed and intimidated.

The European Union observers have said the election fell short of international standards.

Government spokesperson Bereket Simone said that the opposition was free to reject the results and that there were mechanisms to handle such complaints. “We have no qualms if they want to continue with all these legal wrangling” He said.

The Ethiopian government has maintained that the elections were free and fair “It was the will of the people,” election board spokesperson Mohamed Abdulrahaman said. There is no indication that the government will hold a rerun. Gudina said that this would not stop the opposition from seeking recourse. “In this country there is no separation of powers…all the institutions are controlled by one party…it has been a defacto one party state.”