Sunday, May 29, 2005

Ethiopian Opposition Rejects Ruling Party's "Victory Claim"

Ethiopia's leading opposition parties on Saturday rejected the ruling party's "victory claim," saying nothing would change the situation before the outcome of investigations into widespread rigging were known.

The Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) and the United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) have accused the ruling party of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of irregularities in 159 constituencies some of which have now been listed as seats won by the ruling party.

The National Electoral Board (NEB), which the European Union has already disqualified as having "lost control of vote counting," said on Saturday the governing group had won 271 of 524 seats.

Basking in the afterglow of election victory which, among others, denied the ruling party of all 23 seats in the nation's capital, CUD dismisses the electoral board's latest report as unsubstantiated.

"We've already submitted substantial evidences of rigging in 139 constituencies. Any claim of winning the elections will not be accepted before the irregularities are investigated," CUD spokesman Debebe Eshetu told Ethiomedia.com by phone. "What has been stipulated in the electoral law was to release the final outcome of the elections on June 8. Now what they are doing is releasing bits and pieces in a bid to confuse the Ethiopian people and weaken the spirit of the opposition. We see this approach as an obsolete strategy which would have no meaning in our times."

Backing up CUD's protest, United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) Vice President Beyene Petros told AFP: "Since some of the seats that went to the EPRDF are contested by us, we need to have a ruling on our objections before accepting these results."


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