Ethiopian elections held peacefully despite challenges: AU

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The African Union says the 6th national elections in Ethiopia on 21 June were held in a peaceful, orderly and credible manner. But the preliminary report of the 65-person member observer mission, led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, notes that there were operational, logistical, security and political challenges that were observed in the polls.

Due to limited personnel, the AU observer team deployed observers in only two cities during the voting day.

Ethiopia’s 6th national Parliamentary elections under way:

It observed voting in 249 polling stations. The team says while over 100 electoral constituencies had the votes delayed because of insecurity and logistical challenges and the fact that most will have to vote much later in September, this doesn’t affect the credibility of the polls.

“The circumstances that prevailed and making it not possible for the elections to take place at the same time, is understandable and I would say that in fact, insisting and going into elections at this point in time in spite of the situation is an act of courage and an act of belief in democratic process which the government and people of this country should be commended for,” says Obasanjo.

Tigray unable to vote

The AU has also noted the Northern region of Tigray may not be able to vote because of the ongoing conflict there. Recent reports show an airstrike has killed dozens of people in a part of the region.

Dr Awol Allo on Ethiopia’s 6th national parliamentary elections:

Obasanjo says the insecurity in the area of about five million people, shouldn’t be used as a reason for polls not to happen.

“Let me put it this way, there should be no people in IDPs at all, if the situation should have been what it should have been, no security problem, no conflict and all that. But what will be the percentage of people in IDPs compared with the people who have the ability to cast their votes. It will be not worthy I would want to see, but if that is the situation, it will not impact the elections, maybe a little but there are no perfect elections anywhere and this one cannot be regarded as absolutely perfect.”

Societal divisions

The AU has asked that the government of Ethiopia to urgently takes measures to heal societal divisions through national reconciliation.

The mission is advising political parties to strengthen women participation and representation within party structures in leadership positions and as candidates.

The AU is also calling for calm as other areas where polls were delayed are set to cast their vote in September.

In total, 46 political parties took registered to contest in the elections, including that of Prime minister Abiy Ahmed, while over 37 million people registered to vote.

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