Wednesday, April 06, 2005

EU Poll Observer Quits After Ethiopia's Bias Accusation

A senior European Union election observer monitoring Ethiopia's third democratic ballot has quit after the authorities accused him of bias, an Ethiopian official said Monday.

Siegfried Pausewang pulled out after the chairman of the National Election Board said he had been unjustly critical in the past and "lacked objectivity."

Pausewang, who said he had been observing elections in Ethiopia since 1991, insisted he would of remained objective, but he concluded it would be better that he leave at the end of the week

Three U.S. organizations helping to improve democracy in Ethiopia were ejected from the country last week after the government accused them of operating illegally.

All the elections have been convincingly won by the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front. The EPRDF and affiliated parties hold 519 of 548 seats in the federal parliament.

More than 25 million of Ethiopia's 71 million people have registered to vote.

Opposition parties have already accused the government of not providing a level playing field for the May 15 national elections.


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