The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, has expressed on Monday his “gratitude” to the political parties that participated in the last legislative elections, held on June 21 and marked by the offensive in the Tigray region (north) and the increase of insecurity in several parts of the country.
“I met this morning with heads of political parties, a week after the sixth national elections, to express my gratitude for their contribution to allow peaceful elections in which Ethiopia was the winner,” he said.
Thus, Abiy has indicated through his account on the social network Twitter that during these meetings “they have discussed their analysis of the challenges and shortcomings that arose during the electoral process, as lessons learned to strengthen the nascent democracy”.
Abiy’s words have come a few days after five opposition parties that went to the polls filed complaints about the electoral process. The protests were issued by Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice, the Ethiopian Social Democratic Party, Balderas for Genuine Democracy, the Afar People’s Party and the Amhara National Movement.
Thus, all of them accused Abiy’s Prosperity Party (PP) of interfering with the process and some of them even advocated for the repetition of the elections in some of the states of the country, as reported by the Ethiopian daily ‘Addis Standard’.
“The elections were not free, fair and democratic,” said Balderas for Genuine Democracy, who accused the PB of interference in Amhara, Oromia and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) regions. As such, it argued that “the elections have reduced hopes for democracy.”
For its part, the Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice (Ezema), the main opposition party that went to the polls after the boycott formulated by other formations, stressed that “the elections were marked by many challenges, even before the results were announced”.
The African Union (AU) observation mission affirmed last week that the parliamentary elections were “peaceful” and “credible”, although it underlined the existence of “challenges” at the security level, in view of the conflict in Tigray and the increase of inter-community violence.
“The mission concludes that despite some operational, logistical, political, security and COVID-19-related challenges, overall, the pre-election and polling day processes were conducted in an orderly, peaceful and credible manner,” it said in its report.
“There was nothing, in the mission’s estimation, to distract from the credible conduct of the elections,” it said, before calling on “all actors” to “remain calm” as the vote-counting process continues and to resort to legal channels should they wish to lodge any complaints.
The parliamentary elections were held on June 21 after two postponements since August 2020 — the first due to the pandemic and the second due to logistical problems and are the first since Abiy took office.
The elections are seen as a plebiscite on the figure of the prime minister and the margin of maneuver he will have will depend on the margin of difference with which his party, the Prosperity Party, wins. Abiy has stressed that he hopes to win support for his reform efforts, which include plans to amend the constitution.