Sunday, May 22, 2005

UEDF: Ruling Party Destroys Ballot Boxes

The opposition United Ethiopian Democratic Forces (UEDF) said on Sunday the ruling party was destroying ballot boxes for a possible recount in constituencies where it had been defeated, and called on the other opposition parties to forge unity for a joint action.

Dr. Beyene Petros, vice chairman of UEDF, said the ruling party of Mr. Meles Zenawi had since the first day of elections on May 15 denied opposition election observers access to many polling stations. He said election monitors were either barred from observing vote counting, or threatened and detained.

In an interview with UEDF PR personnel, the opposition official said: "We need to forge our alliance, our unity among the opposition forces to block attempts of the ruling party to walk over the people's verdict and declare itself a winner."

Meanwhile, the National Electoral Board (NEB) released results on Sunday, stating the ruling party EPRDF has won 45 of 82 seats, while the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) took 32.

NEB said Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has been re-elected to parliament from his home town Adwa, in the northern Tigrai region. Meles was the only candidate after death threats forced UEDF candidates to drop out of the race. NEB said the ruling party was now ahead of the main opposition contenders.

With partial returns continuing to trickle in, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) said results from 73 constituencies showed Meles's party with 37 seats in parliament compared to the opposition's 36, AFP reported on Sunday.

Many observers question why the electoral Board cancelled a scheduled announcement of country-wide poll results and shifted to an inch-by-inch disclosure that may drag up to June 8.


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