By BEREKET DEREJE JUNE 26, 2015
Ethiopia’s ruling front swept virtually every single seat in the general elections held last month, according to final results released on Tuesday.
Many who hoped to see more than one opposition seat in the House of People’s Representatives — as is the case with the outgoing Parliament — witnessed what may only be the worst.
The preliminary results released on May 28 showing all of the seats going for the ruling Revolutionary Democrats, made it apparent that it is unlikely to see oppositions gain more Parliament seats than last elections in the finally tally.
But this year’s elections have swept out the opposition from the Parliament altogether. Not even the single seat it had held in the outgoing Parliament is spared.
The outstanding constituency in the southwestern Bonga district, which is delayed after clashes between candidates’ supporters, is as well won by the ruling front, according to reports that cite early results.
This will secure a 100% victory for the ruling front and its allies, a first in the nation’s short election history.
Major opposition parties had rejected the elections even before the final results were announced, claiming the election process was fraudulent.
The only election observers sent from the African Union however, concluded that “the Parliamentary Elections were calm, peaceful, and credible as it provided an opportunity for the Ethiopian people to express their choices at the polls”.
Days before the elections, Ethiopian activists took to the Internet and conducted a poll to survey the public’s opinion on the ruling front’s performance on key issues. The online poll, which is criticized by some for being slanted to generate a certain response, ran contrary to the actual election results — displaying a strong disapproval rate for the Revolutionary Democrats.
The Amharic service of Voice of America is also conducting a post-election opinion poll via its website. The poll asks visitors if they believe the 2015 elections were free, fair and credible, to which respondents thus far cast an overwhelming “No.”
No major reactions were observed from Western governments on the latest vote results, apart from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office which urged the Ethiopian government “to increase diversity in parliament and ensure the voices of all citizens are heard.”
But the US State Department has refrained from stating a position thus far. In the June 22 press briefing, Spokesperson John Kirby said the Dep’t isn’t in a position to comment on the particular election, but that the ruling party’s sweep is well noticed.
The US administration is being criticized for President Obama’s planned travel to Ethiopia this July as the first sitting US president. Human rights activists say the President’s visit will send the wrong message to a “repressive government”, which just concluded parliamentary elections that were “widely denounced as unfair”.
This is the second time for the ruling front and its allies to win in a landslide since the highly contested 2005 elections. It earned 99.6% on the previous elections.
North Korea, Turkmenistan and Cuba are also among the countries where, in recent years, leaders got elected with nearly 100% votes.