Ethiopia's Abiy Ahmed wins June election with huge majority

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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has won a landslide victory in the country's delayed elections with his Prosperity Party securing 410 out of the 436 contested seats, the election board announced on Saturday.

The results give Abiy's party an overwhelming majority in the federal parliament and another five-year term in office.

Abiy described the 21 June vote as a “historically inclusive election”, in a statement on Twitter, adding: “Our party is also happy that it has been chosen by the will of the people to administer the country.”

The prime minister said the vote was the country's first free and fair election after decades of repressive rule.

However, a fifth of the country did not vote due to insecurity and logistical problems as well as a boycott by the opposition.

Opposition leader Berhanu Nega said his party, Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (Ezema), had filed 207 complaints after observers in several regions were blocked by local officials and militiamen.

The state-affiliated Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said there were "no serious or widespread human rights violations" in stations it had observed. But its commissioner Daniel Bekele said that its preliminary report had documented "incidents of attacks on candidates and supporters, election workers and security officers in Oromia, Amhara and SNNPR".

Polls could not be held in the war-torn Tigray region where the UN has alerted to thousands living in famine conditions.

Another round of elections has been slated for 6 September in regions where voting could not take place, but no date has been set for Tigray.

A new government is expected to be formed in October.

First test

The election was the first test of voter support for Abiy Ahmed, who promised political and economic reforms when he was appointed prime minister by the governing coalition in 2018.

Within months of taking office, Abiy lifted a ban on opposition parties, released tens of thousands of political prisoners and took steps to open up one of Africa's last untapped markets.

He now faces international pressure over the war in Tigray and accusations from rights groups that his government is rolling back some new freedoms, which it denies.

Abiy's newly formed Prosperity Party faced a fragmented opposition of dozens of mostly ethnically-based parties. The opposition parties Ezema and the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) each won less than 10 seats.

Voting in the Harar and Somali regions was delayed until September over security concerns and problems with ballot papers.

Tigray

No date has been set for voting in Tigray, where the military has been battling forces loyal to the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the region's former ruling party, since November. The fighting has displaced two million people, killed thousands and led to mass hunger. The United Nations has reported famine conditions in the region.

The UN World Food Programme recently began moving aid into Tigray once more, though on Saturday there were reports several trucks had been blocked.

At the end of June, the TPLF seized control of most of Tigray and the regional capital Mekelle, eight months after the conflict erupted.

The government announced a unilateral ceasefire after days of TPLF advances.

The TPLF has presented a list of seven demands that it says are a precondition for a ceasefire, including the withdrawal of the military and its allies from parts of Tigray currently administered by the neighbouring region of Amhara, which also claims the land.

(with newswires)

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