(AFP) – Jun 21, 2010
ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia's ruling party and its allies won more than 99 percent of votes during last month's controversial legislative polls, officials said on Monday.
Partial results announced shortly after the May 23 polls showed Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) ahead in all areas, including the capital, where the opposition came out on top in 2005.
"Of the 547 seats available, the EPRDF won 499," National Electoral Board chairman Merga Bekana told reporters.
All but two seats were won by opposition and independent candidates, with the rest going to EPRDF-allied parties.
The two blocs have also secured near-total victory in polls for regional councils, grabbing all but one in 1,904 seats scattered in Ethiopia's nine regions, the official figures showed.
The Horn of Africa nation's main opposition parties have all rejected the results saying they were riddled with fraud, but their appeals were subsequently turned down by the electoral board and the supreme court.
The Medrek coalition had filed an appeal demanding a re-run, arguing that its supporters had been subjected to intimidation and its observers barred from polling stations during election day.
Merga dismissed the claims.
"These elections were carried out peacefully and fairly. We had taken corrective measures when for the handful of justified complaints," he said.
"I assure you that the board handled all complaints fairly, but the appeal from Medrek and another group lacked evidence and was given a deserved response," he added.
Meles, who has led Ethiopia since 1991, had been widely expected to win in the face of a weak opposition and after months of what rights groups described as shrinking political freedoms.
The 55-year-old lost only 266 votes out of nearly 45,000 for a seat in his native Tigray region, while his wife Azeb Mesfin shrugged off her rival by a lesser figure to maintain her position in parliament for another term.
Both the European Union observer mission and the United States have said the polls did not meet international standards.
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