Ethiopian general election, 2010
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politics and government of
A parliamentary election was held in Ethiopia on May 23, 2010.
The National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) reported that a total of 29,170,867 people were registered to vote in this election. There was a total of 4,525 candidates running for the open positions—which included 546 seats in the House of Peoples' Representatives; 1,349 of whom were members of the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), 374 members of parties loosely aligned with the EPRDF, 2,798 members of opposition parties, and 4 independent candidates.
Run-up to the election
The incumbent party EPRDF and opposition parties have signed Election Code of Conduct. They have agreed on time allocation of public media, though the opposition leaders are complaining the time allocated to them saying that it is unfair for the ruling party to take the highest share of the time. Very recently they have started campaign debate that was transmitted on the public television, ETV. One opposition party, the All Ethiopian Unity Party (AEUP), expressed its serious concern and walked out of the debate requesting the debate to be transmitted live and with the presence and in front of the public.
Based on the violence associated with the previous general election, on 13 April 2010 the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert "before and after national parliamentary elections scheduled for May 23, 2010, and recommends against all but essential travel to Ethiopia during this period." The travel alert pointed out that "U.S. citizens [should] ... maintain a high level of security awareness at all times and avoid political rallies, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind. U.S. citizens should avoid polling places on election day, and be aware that authorities will strictly enforce specific prohibitions such as photography at polling stations."
Activists of opposition parties have expressed their concern that the election will lead to violence and that their supporters will be arrested and imprisoned. Beyene Petros was reported to have claimed to United States diplomatic personnel that "EPRDF cadres in Eastern Wolaita" attacked opposition party leaders and vandalized their cars when they attempted to register candidates in that part of Ethiopia. Opposition leader Merera Gudina has stated that because the ruling EPRDF now controls all local administrations, this election will be a struggle to prevent Ethiopia from becoming a one-party state. 
According to early results released by the election board, the EPRDF was on course for victory, leading the vote count in all of Ethiopia's regions. The chairman of the election board, Merga Bekana, announced that the EPRDF had "definitely" won the election following its lead in 9 of 11 regions that had reported results, including the former opposition-dominated region of Oromia. Human Rights Watch claimed the results were affected by government intimidation of voters over a period of months. European Union observers stated the election was "peaceful and calm" but noted there were claims of irregularities. 90% of eligible voters turned out for the election.
Preliminary results, with 11 election districts not yet having reported results, are as follows:
- EPRDF: 499 seats
- allied parties: 35 seats
- opposition parties: 2 seats
Opposition groups have rejected the election results, with both the Medrek coalition and the separate AEUP issuing calls for a re-run of the election. Both opposition groups say their observers were blocked from entering polling stations during the election on Sunday, May 23, and in some cases the individuals beaten. The United States and the European Union have both criticized the election as falling short of international standards.
However, Ethiopian government officials defend the results as accurately reflecting the mood of the people. The Ethiopian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Berhanu Kebede, claimed that voters had rewarded Meles Zenawi and his party for their achievements. "The government has registered successful development and growth polices. There has been double-digit growth for the past seven years. Primary school and health sector coverage have greatly improved. There has been more investment in infrastructure in the past 10 years than in the previous 100."
On 21 June 2010, the NEBE released the final election results, which confirmed the preliminary results from the previous month. The EPRDF won 499 of the 547 available parliamentary seats, opposition or independent candidates won two seats, and EPRDF-allied parties won the remaining seats. Additionally, the EPRDF won all but one of 1,904 council seats in regional elections. The opposition had filed appeals with the election board and the Ethiopian Supreme Court, but both appeals were rejected. On July 20, the Court of Cassation, Ethiopia's highest court, rejected the opposition's final appeal.
European election observers said that the election fell short of international standards. According to Human Rights Watch the government had a strategy to systematically close down space for political dissent and independent criticism.
According to Amnesty International the final report of the EU Election Observation Mission highlighted violations of freedom of expression, assembly and movement of opposition party members; misuse of state resources by the ruling party; and a lack of independent media coverage. The Prime Minister described the report as “useless trash” and the Chief EU Observer was not granted access to Ethiopia to present the final report.
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