Brussels 21.06.2021 Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (pictured) is facing his first real test at the ballot in what is Ethiopia’s first multi-party election in 16 years, albeit one riven with conflict, jailed opposition figures and parts of the country unable to vote.
Abiy said he expected the poll to be peaceful, tweeting ahead of the vote that it would be Ethiopia’s “first attempt at free and fair elections.” But some Ethiopians and political analysts disagreed with the Prime minister.
Abiy was appointed, not elected, but vowed to hold the most credible elections Ethiopia had ever seen to secure a mandate for his reform agenda.
The ruling coalition that preceded him claimed staggering majorities in the two previous elections, which observers said fell far short of being free and fair.
The poll was postponed from August 2020 to June 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of Abiy’s opponents declared him illegitimate when his term expired in October.
The election was postponed the second time to June 21 because of logistical setbacks, including delays in voter registration and a lack of electoral officials.
The war in Tigray, and ethnic unrest elsewhere, is expected to make voting impossible in large parts of the diverse country of 110 million.
The atmosphere was peaceful at one Addis Ababa polling station visited by CNN on Monday, June 21, morning. Several Ethiopians waiting patiently in line said they were voting because they hoped it would help move the country in a more democratic direction.
The European Union has long withdrawn its election observation mission to Ethiopia, citing the government’s uncooperative stance in fulfilling “standard requirements” relating to security and the independence of the observer group.