May 17, 2005
A tale of two victories
"The EPRDF has won seats for the federal parliament in the southern region, Oromia, Amhara, and Tigray, that would enable it to form the next federal government," said a statement read out live on state television by an EPRDF official.
"But in Addis Ababa, EPRDF has lost the election for the federal parliament and regional council," he added. [Here is the full story.]
Meanwhile the opposition held a press conference (pictured), underlining their wins in Addis Ababa - including a clean sweep of the city council. (What happens next for Addis Ababa's high profile and generally popular mayor Arkebe?) There were rumours that the combined Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) also made significant gains in other towns and cities including Nazareth and Dessie.
Hailu Shawel, head of the CUD, said: "As a whole the fight has been carried by the Ethiopian people themselves. It is against big odds that whatever we achieve has been achieved. We have heard news of our success in the urban areas ... sent to us by our candidates and their supporters."
The opposition parties continued to make claims of intimidation and election fraud. And international observers continued to insist that they had found no evidence of any widespread irregularities.
Yesterday, election observer and former US president Jimmy Carter said: "We believe that Ethiopia has made tremendous strides towards democracy in the last several months, including more open debate, greater political participation, large rallies, and enormously high voter turnout on election day."
There were some criticisms:
- "The campaign denigrated in the final week into charges and counter charges of engaging in "hate speech". The EPRDF's likening the opposition to Rwanda's interhamwe is as, or more, regrettable as are some opposition slurs against the Tigrayans in the ruling party."
- One particular area of concern was in Hossana, where unrest occurred in the rural areas of Soro and Bure. In Soro, crowds became restless with delays. In Bure the Carter Center saw a number of underage voters.
- In Dessie, crowds tried to push into one polling station after becoming restless.
Behind it all is unease about Meles Zenawi's decision to ban public demonstrations for a month and take control of the police under his direct control. It was an odd note to strike a day after a peaceful election. "We are concerned about a decision by the government of Ethiopia to ban post election demonstrations, and our embassy is monitoring that situation closely," said US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.
Posted by aheavens at May 17, 2005 4:43 AM
no breakdown of seats won by either side from the rural areas? There's a lack of figures of any sort. It's also amazing how little info is coming out of western media ( :) - yeah, i know. it's of little consequence to the West, but it's still somewhat shocking to re-realize). They're repeating eachother. How many pple did CUD field? How many did the opposition field? What areas have the observers been to - rural, urban? There were only so many of them, and the country isn't that small.
Posted by: tobian at May 17, 2005 3:19 PM
COMPARING THE INTERHAMWE COMMENT WITH "SOME" MEMBERS COMMENTS ABOUT TIGRAYANS IN THE RULING CLIQUE IS UNFAIR AND NOT BASED ON FACTS. FIRST, PLEASE PROVE TO ALL OF US WHERE THIS CONCENTRATION ON TIGRAYANS CAME FROM THE OPPOSITION OR AS U PUT IT "SOME" OF THE OPPOSITION. WHO ARE THESE SOME? SECONDLY, EVEN ON THE ASSUMPTION THAT SOME MAY HAVE STRAYED, HOW CAN IT BE EQUAL TO A SITTING GOVERNMENT SHOWING DEAD TUTSI'S AND IMPLYING THE SAME FAITH FOR TIGRAYANS IN ETHIOPIA. THAT IS BEYOND BELIEF. YOU ARE COMPLETELY OFF THE MARK
Posted by: MICHAEL HAILU at May 17, 2005 7:52 PM
Hi Mike - I probably didn't make it clear enough in the entry that the comparison between the interhamwe and the Tigrayan comments were made by the Carter Center - not by me. I have now added quote marks to make that clearer.
Also, could you turn your 'caps lock' button off when commenting on this site. It makes it look like you are shouting.
Posted by: Andrew at May 18, 2005 4:41 AM