World, Africa

Ethiopia general elections 'credible': African observers

African Union Election Observation Mission acknowledges operational, logistical, political and COVID-19-related challenges

23.06.2021
Ethiopia general elections 'credible': African observers An electoral official throws votes on a table from a ballot box during the closing of the polls at a polling station in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on June 21, 2021. ( Minasse Wondimu Hailu - Anadolu Agency )

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia

The African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) on Wednesday described the general elections in Ethiopia held amid a pandemic and a host of political and security challenges as credible.

A preliminary report read out by AUEOM head Olusegun Obasanjo, who is a former Nigerian president, said the “overall the pre-election and election day processes were conducted in an orderly, peaceful and credible manner.”

“There was nothing, in the Mission’s estimation, that distracted from the credible conduct of the elections,” the report said.

The statement, however, said there were “some operational, logistical, security, political and COVID-19-related challenges."

More than 37.4 million Ethiopians were registered to vote in the 6th parliamentary and regional councils elections on Monday.

“The Mission observed the voting processes in 249 polling stations, or which 76.3% were located in urban areas and 23.7% in rural areas,” it said. “Voting took place in a largely peaceful atmosphere, with long queues reported in 79.9% polling stations throughout the day.”

Ethiopia has 547 constituencies. Elections were held in all but 78 constituencies, most of which will see the conduct of the elections in the second phase scheduled to take place on Sept. 5.

“International and domestic observers were granted unrestricted access to the polling stations and were allowed to conduct their duties without interference,” the report said.

It recommended that the international community "continue to support the strengthening of democratic institutions in Ethiopia and encourage and support the Ethiopian authorities to undertake national reconciliation initiatives.”

Asked to comment on the fact that some media houses described the voting as chaotic, Obasanjo said: “If a particular media wants to see chaos in orderliness, what can we do?”

“We don’t regard the election chaotic and illegitimate,” Obasanjo said. AUEOM will release the final report on Ethiopian elections in three months.

The elections took place within a context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing conflict in the Tigray region, the international border dispute with Sudan, and the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

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