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Provisional results show Ethiopia's ruling party set for clear win

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-24

Ethiopia's ruling party was on course for a landslide win in Sunday's national election, according to provisional results published on Monday.

REUTERS - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's ruling party won a national election according to provisional results, the electoral board said on Monday, a victory that would extend his time in office to nearly 25 years.

Political analysts said before the result a convincing win for the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front would give the former rebel leader the chance to accelerate development in Washington's main regional ally and improve its democratic record before Meles quits as planned in 2015.

"Definitely, at this point the EPRDF has won, definitely," Merga Bekana, chairman of the Ethiopian National Electoral Board (NEBE), told reporters.

The provisional results were based on returns from 75 percent of the country's 43,500 polling stations.

The EPRDF crushed an eight-party opposition coalition known as Medrek in the Horn of Africa nation's largest region, Oromia, which has been a hotbed for opponents. NEBE said the EPRDF had won 3,927,673 votes, eclipsing Medrek with 117,790.

In the capital Addis Ababa, the EPRDF had 403,621 votes ahead of Medrek's 264,607 and was set to win 20 out of 21 seats with two left to declare -- reversing an opposition whitewash at the last election.

The 2005 poll descended into deadly riots when the opposition said it was cheated of victory after a campaign which captured the imagination of many.

Analysts said there was less chance of violence this time because many opposition supporters believed they had little hope of winning and the 2005 riots were crushed, but some said if international observers condemned the poll critics might be emboldened to take to the streets.

Meles told Reuters in an interview on Sunday his party would win as it had presided over seven years of double-digit growth and had begun to reform the political and judicial landscape.

While nearly 10 percent of the population relied on emergency food aid last year, the government has invested heavily in infrastructure and Meles now wants to step up power production, improve telecommunications and develop industry.

European Union election observers said Sunday's poll was peaceful and calm, albeit with some claims of irregularities that needed to be checked. They said the election showed Ethiopian citizens wanted their democratic rights respected. (Editing by Myra MacDonald)

Date created : 2010-05-24


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