Opposition might challenge Ethiopian vote count in court
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Members of Ethiopia’s opposition said they might contest the results of yesterday’s national election in court after reports of intimidation and vote-rigging, hoping to avoid the violent street clashes that marred the last poll five years ago and left nearly 200 dead.
The election in Africa’s third most populous nation is being closely watched by international observers, and by critics who say the US-allied ruling party has harassed voters and challengers. The European Union’s chief election observer said yesterday the vote was largely calm although there were reports of irregularities.
The Ethiopian Election Board said it had received no complaints and would begin releasing results today. The poll will probably lead to a new decade of power for Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who seized control in a 1991 coup.
The largest opposition bloc, Medrek, complained of intimidation soon after yesterday’s vote began. Spokesman Negasso Gidada said some of his party’s observers had been blocked and arrested in northern Ethiopia, and others had been intimidated in southern Ethiopia.
“We think we may not accept the results,’’ he said, emphasizing that the party would settle any election irregularities by appealing in court. But Negasso said his party would not refuse to participate in the government if elected, as some opposition leaders did in 2005.
Another opposition candidate, Hailu Shawel, also said observers had been turned away yesterday in different parts of the country.
Government spokesman Bereket Simon, however, said he was not aware of any election-related problems.