Cancelled twice last year, polling stations opened in Ethiopia on Monday for national and regional elections in the greatest electoral test yet for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who sees it as his commitment to the country’s democracy after decades of repressive rule.
Security forces are deployed in the capital city Addis Ababa and in the country, to ensure a peaceful election.
Election Board Chief, Birtukan Midekssa, said voting that began at about 6am has been mostly peaceful so far, but that several opposition parties had complained their agents were beaten and their badges confiscated in Amhara region and the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region. She, however, made no mention of who was responsible.
Birtukan warned that “this will jeopardise the credibility of the election process and its result. Local officials and law enforcement officers should immediately take corrective measures.”
Last week, the Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed said the votes would be the “first attempt at free and fair elections” in Ethiopia.
While There are up to 40 million registered voters, TOS News gathered that war, insecurity and logistical issues in Africa’s second most populous nation means there will be no ballot in more than 100 constituencies of the 547 across the country.
A second round of voting will take place in September due to delays from voting registration problems and simmering ethnic violence in a fifth of constituencies.
No date has been set for voting in conflicting Tigray region’s 38 constituencies. Since November, the government has been fighting the region’s former governing party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).