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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

EU Expresses Concern Over Vote Counting in Ethiopian Polls

The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU-EOM) said Wednesday it was concerned over Ethiopia's counting of votes in the May 15 parliamentary elections.

"The people of Ethiopia demonstrated a high sense of citizen responsibility and patience on the voting day and during the vote counting at the polling stations, where order and transparency prevailed," the EU-EOM said in a statement.

However, the statement described as "irregular" the way in which release of the results is being handled by the electoral authorities, the government and the political parties.

The statement said the EU-EOM regrets the announcement on May 16 and May 23 of victory by the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) in the absence of any results having been made public by the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE).

NEBE is responsible for the administration, conduct and supervision of all elections in Ethiopia's federal and state constituencies. It is scheduled to announce final official results on June 8.

The EU-EOM statement also described as "irregular" the fact that ten days after the elections, NEBE has only released results from 121 out of the 524 constituencies.

It resented the manner in which the state-owned media have been releasing provisional, unofficial results mainly showing the partial victories of the EPRDF in a number of constituencies and regions across the country, while ignoring press conferences or any other statement about results made by opposition parties.

"Regarding the EU-EOM preliminary statement of May 17, the state-owned media reported the positive side of the statement while disregarding any critical comments," the statement said.

"These practices, taken as a whole, are seriously undermining the transparency and fairness of the elections," the EU observer mission said, adding that "they also risk increasing the scope for manipulation and consequently putting in doubt public confidence in the process."

Meanwhile, NEBE continued to release the results it receives from various constituencies.

NEBE said it has received the preliminary results of 270 constituencies across the country up until 7 p.m. (1600 GMT) Wednesday.

The NEBE preliminary results indicated the ruling EPRDF party was leading the May 15 parliamentary elections with 165 seats it secured.

People's Daily Online

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