Ethiopia conducts peaceful, logistically challenged polls
Election board chief says she expects complaints to multiply when results start coming in
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Monday’s general elections in Ethiopia attracted a voter turnout that took doubters by surprise and it was largely peaceful and successful, though logistically challenged, according to the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE).
More than 37.4 million Ethiopians were registered to cast ballots in the sixth parliamentary and regional council polls held in most parts of the country.
The high voter turnout could not be managed by 6 p.m. (1500GMT) and the NEBE had to extend it by three hours to 9 p.m (1800GMT). Now counting and posting of results are taking place at polling stations level that will then be coalesced to constituency level.
Ethiopia has a total of 547 constituencies; each constituency votes for one representative for a five-year term in the House of Peoples’ Representative, the lower chamber of parliament, whose members are elected in a direct, secret ballot. The House of the Federation, the upper chamber of parliament, has 112 seats.
Regional state councils determine the number of members who can be elected to state councils. However, regions are required to pass a final decision on the number of state council members six months before the commencement of candidates’ registration. Representation in the House of the Federation is according to the population of regional states.
The country managed to conduct the cleanest polls when compared to earlier polls, though with some reported handicaps.
As many as 9,175 candidates were fielded by 47 political parties, while 125 joined the contest independently in the polls conducted at more than 49,407 polling stations across the Horn of Africa country.
Logistical, security hurdles
But voters in 78 of 547 constituencies in the country will have to wait until Sept. 6 due to logistical, security and administrative hurdles.
But even in some places where elections took place as scheduled, there have been some logistical hurdles that delayed voting in Sidama regional state one day.
In Sidama, the latest and 10th regional state in Ethiopia formed just a year ago, more than 3 million people are voting for their representatives today due to some hiccups created in the supply of ballot papers, according to the NEBE.
In a press briefing Monday night, NEBE President Bertukan Medeksa said logistical problems also occurred in Benishangul and Gambella regional states, disrupting voting briefly, but were later solved.
Displaying exhaustion from a long day of overseeing the voting process, she said the NEBE will release preliminary results within the coming 10 days, adding she expects complaints to multiply when results start coming in.