Ethiopia’s ruling party won a landslide in a landmark parliamentary poll, results showed on Saturday, ensuring a new five-year term for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, despite a brutal war in the northern region of Tigray.
Abiy hailed the outcome of what he described as a “historic” election — the first time he faced voters since being appointed prime minister in 2018 following several years of anti-government protests.
The winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize had hoped to frame victory at the ballot box as a mandate for political and economic reforms, and military operations.
However, the poll was held in the midst of the grueling conflict in Tigray that has battered Abiy’s global reputation and raised fears of widespread famine.
His Prosperity Party won 410 seats in the federal parliament out of 436 where elections were held, according to results issued by the National Election Board of Ethiopia, which said there would be a rerun in 10 constituencies.
The figures showed opposition parties and independent candidates won a small number of seats.
In a statement on Twitter, Abiy described it as a historically inclusive election, adding: “Our party is also happy that it has been chosen by the will of the people to administer the country.”
The vote was meant to affirm a promised democratic revival in Africa’s second-most populous nation, with Abiy vowing a clean break with repression that tarnished past electoral cycles.
The ruling coalition that preceded him claimed staggering majorities in 2015 and 2010 polls that observers said fell far short of international standards for fairness.
A more open contest in 2005 saw big opposition gains, but led to a lethal crackdown on protests over contested results.
This time, the polls were delayed twice — once for the COVID-19 pandemic, and again to allow officials longer to prepare.
Nevertheless, voting did not go ahead in about one-fifth of the country’s 547 constituencies because of ethnic violence or logistical problems. A second batch of polling is due to take place on Sept. 6 in many of those left out.
However, there is no election date set for Tigray, where fighting marked by myriad atrocities raged for eight months before federal troops withdrew at the end of last month in the face of rebel advances and Abiy’s government declared a unilateral ceasefire.
The situation remains precarious in Tigray, with analysts warning of potential further fighting and some world leaders denouncing a “siege” blocking desperately needed aid for a region where hundreds of thousands face famine.
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