Home | News    Friday 27 May 2005

Ethiopia electoral body orders poll rerun in six constituencies

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ADDIS ABABA, May 27 (AFP) — Ethiopia’s electoral board said on Friday it had ordered a rerun of polls in two southern states after verifying complaints of a raft of malpractises in six of the country’s 547 constituencies.

"The board passed the decision of re-run of elections at 16 polling stations, which are under six constituencies after verification of complaints by contending parties in the area," said Mekonnen Wondmu, National Electoral Board of Ethiopia’s (NEBE) registrar of political parties.

He explained results for the May 15 general elections for areas had been cancelled after it verified that there were disruptions, under-age voting in two southern Ethiopia states, namely Southern People’s Nations and Nationality Regional State and Oromia Regional State.

In addition the board verified claims that gangs broke into some polling stations and went away with ballot boxes, confrontations as well as violent confrontations, he told AFP.

Mekonnen neither said when the rerun would take place nor which parties lodged complaints, but another board member said there were so many complaints the chance of releasing results on June 8 as planned was slim.

The announcement came as the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) held the lead in the hotly contested May 15 parliamentary polls with preliminary results in from 65 percent of the country’s 547 constituencies.

The board said late Thursday that EPRDF had won 207 of the 357 constituencies from which it had received results.

After the polls on May 15, the board said it had expected to release a preliminary overall tally from Ethiopia’s more than 30,000 polling stations on May 21. It then shifted the date to June 8, but on Friday voiced doubts.

"The board is trying to announce the final result as scheduled on June 8, but it does not seem to be viable," NEBE’s spokesman Getahun Amogne told AFP.

Getahun explained it may take more time to investigate the electoral complaints being forged by rival parties.

"The sheer volume of the complaints and the time it may take (to investigate them), plus the need to agree on the modality of the investigations, which has yet to be decided, by the joint forum of the parties makes it June 8 unlikely to be the day to announce the final result," he explained.

Getahun explained that parties are yet to agree on the membership of the joint forum, which is tasked with verifying complaints.

"Parties are yet to agree on who should be included in the investigation, such as; do we have to invite the foreign observers and others," he said, explaining it would be decided on Saturday.

The delay by NEBE in releasing results, premature victory claims by both the ruling party and opposition as well as post-election pro-government bias in the state media coverage were all criticized by the EU observers this week.

"These practices, taken as a whole, are seriously undermining the transparency and fairness of the elections," the EU observers said on Wednesday.

"They also risk increasing the scope for manipulation and consequently putting in doubt public confidence in the process," they said.

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